Out of quarantine

Had to abruptly go to Norway for a family emergency in November. Booked a ticket on the 17th and sat on a plane two days later.

It’s been 3 years since I was able to go home, and while it wasn’t a happy circumstance bringing me back, it was good to see familiar places and people. Hugging my family and friends. Feeling a twinge of baby fever upon seeing my cousin’s new baby. Making spring rolls and dancing around my best friend’s kitchen. Having my aunt’s two huge great danes in my lap. Being hated by my mom’s new kitten unless she was too sleepy to notice it was me. Feeling homesick and looking at houses thinking about moving back to Norway.

The timing was terrible though. A couple of days into my two-week stay in Norway, omicron happened which made me a nervous wreck the second week, constantly checking the news and border control pages to see if they’d allow me back in Japan.

Spoiler alert; they allowed me to come back in, but I had to stay 3 days at a quarantine hotel eating cold bentos morning, lunch, and dinner. I like rice, but not for every single meal. And the remaining 11 days I could quarantine at home, given that I didn’t step outside, which they would routinely check through an app.

On Sunday (yesterday) I was finally free to venture outside, and I went to get a haircut, bought a novel, got donuts, posted my long overdue christmas cards, and went for a walk in the woods savouring the fresh air and the feeling of stretching my legs out fully for the first time in two weeks. Swearing to myself I won’t take this freedom for granted again. But like with colds and blocked noses, it will quickly be forgotten until next time.

Falling behind

I have a mountain of correspondence to reply to and must apologize to all of my penpals.

I had planned to try to catch up this weekend but,

Saturday we were gone most of the day, and when we got home I barely managed to get a shower before going to sleep. I went to bed with my hair still wet, even though Teddy always gets cross about that. But what is a poor girl to do? Hairdryers aren’t the best for your hair and with this length it takes forever, and with a desperate need for sleep I wasn’t in a state to wait up another 2-3 hours for it to dry naturally. Sometimes you just have to go to sleep with wet hair.

Sunday I slept in, till the ungodly time of 11:30! And even having slept until this late, I didn’t even get up and make breakfast or do anything before closer to one o’clock in the afternoon. Usually unheard of for me but Saturday was a long day so I guess it can’t be helped. I spent the day cleaning, studying, watching Gray’s Anatomy, and planting. We had some more plastic bottles so I made some more planters.

We also went to the homestore and I got some cat-friendly plants for the living room. I want to make the apartment into a jungle. With plants everywhere, but I have to think about Darjeeling as well, don’t want her to get sick, nor mischevious and making a mess.

I would like to be able to write letters on weekdays, but finding the time to sit down properly and give the letters the attention they deserve is difficult when your after work schedule is full of trying to catch up on house stuff, like grocery shopping, cleaning, making dinner, and getting to bed in a timely manner.

Let’s face it, I have become a boring adult (tear).

I will do my best to get in some writing time this week (this weekend Teddy is having his second shot of the vaccine meaning we will be at home and so I will have time to write between taking care of him). I also want to get a headstart on christmas cards that I got a little while ago (and that I need to get more of, I only thought about my penpals, not my actual family when I was buying them 🙈)

At the border of Niigata and Gunma; Tanigawadake

Saturday morning, again at 3am, we got up to be on our way to Tanigawadake with Teddy’s family.

We took the ropeway (which might have been the first time for me), and then the skilift (that didn’t have a bar like the one I used last time years ago when going snowboarding) to get to the top and see all the mountains, including Mt. Tanigawa, surrounding us on all sides. Such a stunning view, an experience to behold.

Teddy is saying we will climb (!) Mt. Tanigawa next time, but I am not so sure, it might take too long at my fitness level (crying)

We went and had some soba afterwards, with tempura, and soba-yu, and soba tea, and soba tea pudding. Everything soba, except the tempura. As I lived in Nagano when I first moved to Japan, I do love soba.

On the way back we chanced upon a foot hot spring and some autumn leaves at a little roadside station, the foot bath was really refreshing!

Maybe I will think about climbing Mt. Tanigawa, one day…

Friday morning, reading, plants, and lately

This morning I managed to wake up (yesterday I did not), so I can have a relaxing morning. I like to get up early so I can do nothing for about two hours. Sometimes I will do some cleaning or some yoga, but that’s on the rare occasion that I am perfectly rested and have the energy.

Lately it is cold, so the first thing to do is turn on the heaters to heat up the rooms and to make a cup of tea. Since I woke up with a bit of a sore throat today I decided to make peppermint tea.

I am rereading Murakami’s 1Q84 lately. Darjeeling is in the window looking at the birds outside, making her little meowy noises.

After being inspired by a tiktok I am trying to grow some greens in my humble kitchen and they are sprouting a bit! I also got some more mini plants to greenify our space a bit. They’re not good for Darjeeling so I am keeping them in rooms she doesn’t have access to. The teapot pot is so cute though! I love it and want another hundred more.

Not long now before I can eat some spinach! (Haha)

When we got home from the supermarket on Monday, we got home to a crime scene;

It had been on top of the dresser lately but now it is no more. Just the day before I had been talking about why I like it so much to Teddy, maybe Darjeeling got jealous. At least she didn’t hurt herself!

I have also picked up my studying again lately after getting (yet another) new textbook on the recommendation of my friend.

Yesterday I got some Japanese sweets at the supermarket because they were irresistibly cute!

It’s a mini pumpkin!!

It’s 7am now so time to get back to my book before I have to get ready for work.

Have a lovely Friday everyone❣️

Living koselig

The Danish «hygge» is now known by everyone I believe, but as a Norwegian it is more about ‘koselig’ for me.

Cozy, warm, content, pleasant, enjoyable, simple joys. There is no one word for it in English, nor Japanese.

I never finished the Hygge book (because I bought it in Japanese and got stuck at all the tecnical words for lighting and just never picked it back up oops), but I feel like the two concepts are closely related.

Imagine a cold winter’s day, sitting in front of the fireplace with a warm beverage in your hand talking to a good friend.

Or sitting in your favorite armchair with a good book and a cat on your lap.

Or going for a hike in the woods which is blanketed in autumn leaves, sitting down and having a snack on a fallen tree trunk.

That’s koselig.

I usually feel the need to make life koselig in the colder months, which is a lot shorter here in Japan compared to Norway.

Anyways, yesterday I got lots of koselig stuff.

A warm and cozy cardigan

A beverage is a must for koselig, a hot beverage in the cold months, and whichever you prefer for the warm months.

Last, but not least of my koselig item haul from yesterday;

This little pottery ornament light! Very simple but oh so koselig.

The warmth it brings to the room

It also creates a bit of a magical mood;

Darjeeling is also very koselig

I thought I wanted to be a minimalist, but I am starting to see that I want to be a koselig-ist haha. I want to live simply, but also to be surrounded by my favorite things that bring me joy and warmth, and at the same time not have too much stuff which will make tidying and cleaning a hassle. It’s a fine balance that I am still working on.

Cloudy with a chance of tsukune

My legs are still sore from hiking. Just the thought of sitting down or standing up makes me want to cry. But! It hasn’t stopped me from having a productive Sunday.

While waiting for my package to arrive, I sat down and wrote some letters. I’ve been feeling busy lately so haven’t sat down properly to write in a while (apologies to all my penpals).

Right before 12 my package finally came, I ordered it a month ago and have been waiting impatiently ever since.

I’ve been reorganizing the kitchen a lot lately, and this is the final piece (for now).

The kitchen before:

And after:

Tried rearranging the contents to have the heavier items at the bottom as it was a bit more wobbly than I’d like but it is still wobbly so… Maybe it doesn’t roll as smoothly owing to the fact that the flooring is quite soft. Anyways I am happy that I could fit a lot more in here than before! It has opened up a lot of space elsewhere too.

After assembling and organizing the new kitchen wagon/rack thing I finally sat down (painfully) and folded laundry from the past week, which Darjeeling decided was her bed;

For dinner I tried a new recipe from a new recipe book I bought; sweet and salty tsukune (chicken meatballs), with sesame spinach miso soup:

First time to make tsukune and it wasn’t bad! If I may say so myself.

All in all a good Sunday. Time to take a hot bath and get ready for tomorrow, hoping the soreness will fade overnight.

Yamanashi adventure

3am; we get up to start the journey to Yamanashi prefecture. With a cup of coffee with cocoa powder and my new trusty neck pillow from muji in hand I was ready to be on our way.

First we went to Hinatayama. We started out at the lower parking as the upper parking is a bit inaccessible unless you have one of those offroad cars or what you call it.

It took almost 3 hours to get to the top, because I am horribly unfit and feel sick with any kind of ascent (I can walk on flat ground for days). I thought of going back uncountable times but we reached it and I was so glad I hadn’t given up. It was freezing, but beautiful.

After having a snack we went on our merry way down, which was a lot easier than going up. I enjoyed it a lot. The fresh air, the sunlight filtering through the autumn foliage, the path littered with yellow leaves making the scenery magical.

Until about the last 50-ish minutes (that felt like the longest of the whole hike) where I had several blisters and what not, making each step painful, and I was tired and over the whole thing, just wanting it to end.

We made it down to the bottom in one piece, lifting my mood a great deal.

Next we went to get the Yamanashi specialty as we were ravenous; houtou

They had a limited autumn set that I had to get, with pumpkin houtou and chestnut rice!The chestnut rice was so sweet, almost like dessert!

The houtou was like a stew, or hotpot, with a wide range of different vegetables in a soup. There were huge chunks of potato and carrot in there too, so soft and delicious.

After eating till we felt like bursting, we went to the onsen to nurse our aches. We went to Hottarakashi onsen at the top of a mountain, just in time for the sun to set. Sitting in the hot water outside with the cool wind, watching Mt. Fuji flushed in pink; indescribable.

It was a lovely day off, and I am happy that I could experience Yamanashi a bit.

Today, the day after this adventure, I am taking it easy at home, as my legs are out of order like the day after leg day at the gym. I will see you again one day Yamanashi.

衣替え from summer to autumn

衣替え (koromogae) is the seasonal change of clothing, switching out the warderobe from one season to the other. The beginning of October is the perfect time for koromogae.

Darjeeling as (un)helpful as always.

I was able to do some decluttering as well, but not as much as I would like. I still get stuck on the «I might need this» or «I might want to wear this again one day».

This time I left the pieces that I didn’t wear last year in with the summer clothes in the storage box, so if I don’t reach for them this season I can hopefully declutter them next spring.

Now my warderobe looks like this;

I realized I mainly use greys, blacks, whites, mustards, and a tiny splash of pink. At least it’s not all black. It feels calmer.

I hope to be able to do a 100% perfect konmari one day. Maybe next year.

Tomorrow the weather will be lovely so I plan to get all the laundry done and even hang out the futons.

What do you do on sunny days off?

Long time no see

Last time I wrote it was spring, with its cherry blossoms and fair weather.

I was so excited about this but for some reason can’t get into it as I did with the first one, is it that different?

Now it is autumn, beloved autumn (let’s skip summer).

A lot has happened since spring, and some has stayed the same. I got a new job, which accounts for most of the changes in my daily life and wellbeing. Working from home should mean that I have a lot more time as there is no commute, but for some reason it was easier to get in reading on a commute than at home. I am still working on the work/private life balance.

I got my dream table, a table I had in a note in my evernote app years ago titled «future house ideas». I am living in the same apartment but the arrival of the table has brightened it more than I had imagined.

My plant keeps growing and I had to repot her a little while ago:

We have been hiking lately so I have seen some beautiful views;

I did some doodling from May on my new phone, mostly of Darjeeling, and opened up a little Redbubble shop! I found doodling on my commute was very relaxing, but I often missed my stop.

It is almost time to break out the autumn fashion, and as usual I couldn’t help myself getting some new pieces this year either;

It’s still just a little too early, a little too hot, to start wearing it though.

I am still writing letters, and being as obsessed with stationery as always. Been buying autumn stationery and stamps like there is no tomorrow;

I would like to blog more, but not sure how to proceed, what to blog about, how often etc. Maybe the blog will be updated more this fall, or maybe not, I cannot say for certain. I have so many hobbies but so little time.

How is everyone doing so far this year, as we pass into autumnal bliss?

Spring is in the air, and on the trees

The plum blossoms are blossoming and the weather is going from winter chill to warm and breezy (and back again to the chill). It is spring.

This year I started a new job, though similar with the old one it is just different enough to not have me dread going to work. (Last year was rough)

I am keeping busy and the house and balcony is slowly filling up with flowers as well. I was walking down the main street on my day off last week and was drawn to the flower shop, and left with a little bouquet. I’m trying to propogate my pothos but it’s going slow and I might not be doing it right.

I am still writing a ton of letters, and I recently started, not collecting but, getting my own stamps so that even the postage is cute. I do feel the tendency to hoard them and not use them for what they are intended but I try to keep it in check.

Also thanks to my lovely penpals, my list of books-to-read, outside of my usual sphere of Japanese lit, is growing. I am halfway through Aoyama’s お探し物は図書室まで and loving it, and I started Circe by Madeline Miller and will be reading the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, both recommended by penpals.

We got a tree for Darjeeling and she likes it, but finds it difficult to get down from the fourth step so we’re considering getting a second more climbable tree on the side

I would like to get back into studying this year, the textbooks on my shelf haunt me, but we’ll see. If only one could learn enough through just reading novels to pass N1 I would be so happy but alas. As they said in If cats disappeared from the world by Genki Kawamura; 「何かを得るためには、何かを失わなけれならない」(I think that’s the quote, it’s been years since I read it) meaning something like “no pain no gain”.

I still go to my piano lessons, though it doesn’t feel like I am improving much. But they’re only for fun anyway so. I’m currently practicing backnumber’s Happy End.

As I settle more into the new routine of daily life, I predict more tea and more books. And more walks. And more baking. I recently made chocolate chip cookies for the first time and they were addictive.

Just a little update before I head off to work. I would like to blog more but I don’t really know what to blog about. Maybe I’ll have a clearer vision in the future.

Until next time~

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