Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sunrise over Tokyo...

I woke up at 5:30 this morning & decided I should just stay up. After all I am going to get my wake up call in an hour anyway and that would be just enough time to fall into a delicious enough sleep that I wouldn't want to get up. So I'm watching the sun rise.

Light - I never really thought about it until I started traveling internationally. It can be so different in other parts of the world. Holland was where I first noticed it - it's like it was thinner there, more delicate. It's hard to explain, but I feel my inner painter dying to paint in this luminous blue light - regardless of how many,many years it's been since I had a paint brush in my hand.

Day One in Tokyo, part 2...

...O.K., back in the room now for the night. Where was I? Oh, yes - changing trains was almost more then I could handle. Here's how it went. Go to the ticket machine. Everything's in Japanese. Then I find the"English" button. Too bad there isn't an "Idiot" button. The English pulls up a chart an says "Press the ticket you want to buy" with a screen full of prices ranging from 130 yen up. Not what the value gets you. So what do I want to buy? Well, the cheap ticket, of course. So sometimes you put your ticket in the slot and it sets off an alarm because you didn't buy the right price ticket. Sometimes it sucks your ticket in & doesn't give it back. A couple of times when I was trying to figure out what platform I needed to go to, an agent just gave me money back, because I guess I overpaid? So - for the train switching I got stuck between 2 sets of gates (it ate my ticket) and there were no ticket machines (that I could find) and no helpful transit employees. I was captive for about 15 minutes (which can be mildly panic inducing when you can't communicate) until the transit guy returned to his post. For some reason he gave me 150 yen and waived me through the gate.

Jen gave me some invaluable tips before I left, like buy a map of Tokyo before I go (because, guess what - none of them over here are in English - thank you Jen!) and buy a compass so you can figure out the map. I picked up Tokyo's 25 best and found out about Roppongi Hills from there.

So it's a neat area - "a stunning new precinct with an urban art gallery, a dramatic observation deck, shops, public art, tranquil open spaces & busy plazas". Sounded great & it was on the same side of the city as the Harajuku district, so that was my next destination.

It was very tranquil walking through, until I came upon the "public art" - which is a gi-normous metal spider.

Once I got over my initial reaction (I thought we needed another sculpture with an even bigger shoe hovering over it) I decided I really liked it. The scale is fantastic.

"Dramatic observation deck". Understatement. I knew I had to head to the top as soon as I saw the building.

That's 54 stories, baby. Sweet. No glass elevator, but it was awfully speedy. And before I realized it I was at the top. Now the first thing I did was cheat - the gallery was at the top too & I checked out the gift shop & saw what kind of stuff was in the exhibit (not that great) & made the judgement call to spend all my time there soaking in the city on the observation deck & just skip the gallery. As far as the eye could see in every direction - city. It left me speechless.

Wow. Seriously. Just wow.

After the last subway drama, I took a cab back to my hotel. I ran into Bill Downey in the Family Mart (he kind of stands out here) and said hi as I was grabbing a bottle of water and a coke zero (at least I thought it was water - I guess I was so busy chatting I didn't read the bottle which said "bottled sweat" (I don't think that translated well) - turns out it tastes like a Lemon DaSani.

We all met in the hotel lobby & headed over through the mall to the attached convention center (this complex is huge - it houses a hotel, the convention center, a mall, an indoor theme park, an aquarium, a theater, a planetarium, an observatory & a museum). There was a large contingency from Sun-K (the Japanese distributor hosting the event), our translators and the other teachers. Let's see if I can remember all the other Americans who came over to teach: Lisa Bearnson (CK), Lance Anderson (Rusty Pickle), Becky Fleck (Basic Grey), Donna Downey (Simple), Brian Tippets (CK), Kamei Smith (FontWerks) and Britney Mellen (CK). There will be over 200 attendees from all over Japan, Asia & even Hawaii. We'll all be teaching 3 two hour classes a day for the next 3 days. I *love* my adorable translator Aya (pronounced eye-uh). I'm looking forward to a fun time with her. I got side tracked...our hosts took all of us out for dinner..and we ended up eating Mexican food. Now, it was good - but let me tell you, Mexican food in Tokyo is very different from Mexican food in Texas! The folks from Sakura and Tsukineko were there and it was very nice to meet them as well. I also met Dee from Scrap the Planet - who I will be teaching for on Monday.

All in all, it was a pretty awesome day. I'm going to turn in now, since I have a busy day ahead of me. I'll do my best to remember to take pictures tomorrow (I didn't at the dinner tonight, but Aya will be sharing her photos with me). Arigato for reading and I'll keep you posted...

Day One in Tokyo, part 1...

There's an intense blue light that bathes everything and makes it a glowing pale blue...I tried to do it justice in the photos - red really stands out in this light. It's kind of magical.

I started this morning tackling the Tokyo subway system...

There were, um, complications...I had to turn around a few times and had some issues with overpaying & underpaying for tickets...but I figured if they can do it, I can do it.

So here's the train & a shot from inside it:

I got off at the Harajuku district. I loved it! Seriously - I could have spent the whole day there (not to mention all my money!) I got some cool gifties for Amy & Meg (some above the knee "original" Lolita socks, some fun leg slouches & harajuku district t-shirts) and some more 3-d flower rings for me - apparently they're the rage here. I ended up lunching at McDonalds (hey, it's the hot spot there). Here are some photos from my harajuku adventure:

I always take pictures of grills/grates in cities - they all have such distinct markings, I think this is the prettiest one I've seen yet.

After that I got back on the subway & even changed lines *drama* and ended up in Roppongi Hills. Which, I guess I will need to blog about later I need to freshen up & meet for a rehearsal with my translator for my CKU-Japan class & then we're all out to dinner with the CKU & Sun-K folks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Good morning Tokyo!!!

I woke up at 8:45 am, feeling like this was my own time zone...awesome. It's so bright here - I'm loving the light. My "official duties" start at 6 pm - so I'm off to explore...

LIVE from TOKYO!!!!

Wow...I did it. Jen was coming down with a nasty case of flu & had to stay home at the last minute, so all of a sudden I was headed to Tokyo alone. I was a little nervous at first, but I'm downright fearless now. Here's what I know...

I'm posting this on Wednesday at 6 AM Dallas time, which is Wednesday at 9 PM in Tokyo.

Somehow I handled the time warp totally in stride (I may be taking that back in the morning, but I think I totally have this). We took off at noon & I managed to sleep from 2 PM to 9 PM (Dallas time) more or less straight through. We landed at 4:30 PM at Narita & I felt refreshed, but not wired.

I did manage to change my cash, but I can tell the jet lag is kicking in a little, because I have such a sluggish time doing the conversions (example: the bus to the hotel was 3,000 yen which sounds astronomical until you realize it's only $30 - for a 1 1/2 hour ride).

I made it through customs & got all my bags and navigated out of the airport & got on the right bus with no problems.

I think I way over packed. Again.

Tokyo is HUGE. No one prepared me for the sheer scale of this place.

So here I am, on the 35th floor at the Sunshine City Prince Hotel. Here's my view:

Um, my hotel is attached to a mall! HELLO - they should tell you about these things up front. After scoping the restaurant in the hotel (Chinese food entree 9,000 yen. I just stared at it and kept redoing the math. Yep, that would've been a $90 plate of Sweet & Sour Chicken). So, I headed for the mall food court. I'm so grateful Jen warned me about some of the everyday things here - like having to order from the plastic food in the window...

I had something on "hot stone" - my waiter made sounds like sizzling flesh and pantomimed me burning myself horribly and pointed at my bowl and said "no!no!" when he served me. All I could think of was "it's cooked" - sweet. Maybe I'll get brave & do sushi tomorrow...

Um, it took me a while to find, but I got a map to the mall - but I can't read it because it's in Japanese...duh.

I must remember to blog about the toilet another's very complicated. I kind of like it. I filmed some channel surfing (the television shows are wild when you have no clue what they're about) - but it was too long to go on you tube, so I will try another day.

I think I'm going to take a long shower, take a Simply Sleep and go to bed - I'll keep you posted!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Next stop Tokyo...

I leave in a little over 12 hours first trip to Tokyo & I'm pretty excited. Here's what you need to know.
  • I will not have access to my personal email. If you need me, please email my work address:
  • I get back Wednesday the 5th. I may not have time to respond to everything/anything before I bounce back out...I head to Canada on the 6th or 7th. Just think of me as coming home on the 10th.
  • If you need something Luxe related, please contact our offices.
  • ManHandled shipping is temporarily halted while I'm gone.
  • Compared to home (DFW) I will be 15 hours ahead. Hard to wrap my head around...the flight will be 14 hours.
  • I will try to blog when I'm there. When I'm awake, not teaching or not out exploring :)
  • I have a guidebook, map, compass, common phrasebook & a"wicked" phrasebook, the recharger for my camera batteries, oatmeal, an umbrella, the goop that makes my hair look good, a purse full of buttons & a new bottle of ibuprofen. Yep, I'm ready to go.


Not many contemporary novels have me laughing out loud & talking to the characters ("don't you dare - he's a scoundrel" - you can imagine the odd glance I got from Matt). But AustenLand, was just wonderful. I got it from audible for the flight to Japan, but started listening while doing laundry, then listened after Matt went to sleep, listened on my way to work, on my errands after work...and, well I finished it already. It was wonderful. If you're an Austen lover I highly recommend it.

I've also recently heard (thank you audible) The Jane Austen Book Club and have been reading (on actual paper) Lost in Austen - which makes me feel all of 13, but so what? To replace my AustenLand, I just downloaded Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict...and also another audio book (non-Austen related - shocking) called Breathing Room which had very high marks. (and yes, I'm still reading Eat, Pray, Love in my spare time - lol) What's inspired this Austen-palooza??? Well, Colin Firth in a wet shirt. Um, sorry, lost my train of thought there. Meant to say the complete Austen series on PBS. I also have Pride & Prejudice on my Mp3 player right now can never get enough Darcy in your life...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Sense"-ational Sundays...

Our senses tell a story. I've committed to recording my 5 senses once a week to explore my sensory world. I challenge you to do the same. If you choose to do so, just blog your 5 senses every Sunday & let me know, I'd love to read them.


I watched I Am Legend this week...and I'm still a little freaked out. I have a love/hate realtionship with virus movies (Outbreak, 12 Monkeys, etc.). I love them because they seem more believable to me than other scary flicks, but they seem more real to me than other scary flicks!

Not Gonna Write You a Love Song by Sara Bareilles, Back to Black by Amy Winehouse & Brighter Than Sunshine by Aqualung.

Archer Farms deli salads. Yep - Target has fancy salads (only 3.99 and very filling) and I adore them! I've been picking them up this week since I've been a little too tired to cook, but have been craving healthier foods after so much time on the road. This week I've had the southwestern with grilled chicken with poblano peppers, the California Chicken (my favorite - grilled chicken, cranberries, walnuts & goat cheese), the steak salad with blue cheese crumbles and the club salad with grilled chicken & eggs.

Matt Adams. Can you blame me? I was out of town for ten days & I'll be leaving again on Tuesday. Lots of hugging, kissing and hand holding. :)

Smell of the week? The burning smell of jalapenos...I had (my favorite) jalapeno chicken from our Chinese delivery joint Monday night & Brandy, Jen & I had Mexican food at Mi Cocinas for lunch on Friday. I miss my spicy foods when I'm out of town...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

ETSY pick of the Week...PICKY PICKY

If you haven't figured it out, I love etsy for jewelery! I've bought a couple of pieces from PickyPicky and have corresponded with her as well. She's super sweet and makes such beautiful things! I love that she uses a lot of vintage & re-purposed pieces in her jewelery, very green. Here's a piece I have my eye on...a love-o-meter necklace that's reversible with French & English! Enjoy & happy shopping!

Catching random post

So many random things...It's been weird being out of the swing of regular blogging. I've quite missed it, but sleep seemed more important. :) So here goes - it may be disjointed, but here's everything I've been thinking about blogging about:

I'm finally reading Eat, Pray, Love and am really enjoying it. Because of the sleeping I'm still in the first section of it, but when I read it I'm instantly transported into her world in Italy. OK, confession time. So many of my friends have told me to read this book, and I never asked why...and I just assumed it was just another weight loss approach book. OK, stop laughing at me. With that title, what would you assume? If you have no idea what the book is about, it's, well, I'll call it a discovery journal, a true story. A woman (my age) goes through a divorce then takes a year to "find herself", spending 4 months in Italy (eat), 4 months in India (pray) and 4 months in Indonesia (love). Her writing style is so engaging. I can already tell it's going on my reread rotation.

The good news: my body is normalizing. Several of you know I had a stroke 2 years ago & lost the feeling in my left leg. I've conquered walking without a limp & get around really well. Well I'm happy to report over the last couple of weeks I have regained some sensation around my left knee. The docs said there was no predicting if/when sensation will come yay! The bad news: sweet Lord it hurts! God took good care of me, when I had my stroke I took a nasty fall and dislocated my left knee, tore my mcl & dislocated my ankle. Thankfully all that damage was on my numb leg. I figured all this out when I stepped off my front porch the other day and thought my leg was going to fall's not pretty. But I figure any sensation is good sensation & I know I will get used to it. Walking was so painful after the stroke, but it got better and I'm sure it will get better now too. My I.T.B.S. is back (with a vengeance) but this time I don't have pain meds to handle it. It flared up originally when I was having to constantly compensate for my left leg. It's just a mess. But it will get better. I know this is happening because I am getting better. And that makes it all easy to handle.

ScrapBowl was fabulous. I loved meeting so many talented & sweet scrappers. I miss the thai sweet chili chicken sandwiches I lived on at the convention center. My favorite memory? Hanging out with the other instructors in our hotel rooms after hours - sharing our projects, our stories, favorite websites, watching tv together, laughing, etc. I roomed with Shimelle & Jen and Tia was usually last man standing with us until about 1 am each night. I love Shim & Jen & much fun...

I realized, again, this week how much I love my job. Seriously.

Here's what else I love: Lush & Paper Source! I went to both last week & instantly remembered why I love these shops so much. Stacy got me to try the Lemony Flutter (which I'm loving) from Lush & a HUGE thank you to her for pointing it out to me! As for Paper Source? I'm still floating on a is coming to Dallas later this year!!! I got, well, paper - obviously (including the cherry blossom print, pictured)...but I also made an impulse buy - a charming eraser (like this) that says "do over".

Kits are coming! I have some left over kits from ScrapBowl & I will be selling them on my blog. They just need to get here & I need to be home for more than 5 minutes at a time. :)

Leaving for Tokyo Tuesday! CKU-Japan here I come!!! Here's some fun...the CKU-J blog entry about me, translated. Here's what I want to see outside of the event: some temples, the Tokyo fish market (Jen's told me we're having sushi for breakfast there one day - um, good thing I trust her) and totally the HARAJUKU DISRICT! I'm so stoked! I can't wait to see the mecca of Japanese punk culture...

I'm back on know what I mean. My break from caffeine was noble, but not long lasted. We still aren't buying 12 packs so if I want one I have to go to the store and get one, so it's extremely limited. My new love? Diet Coke Plus...

Things to do this weekend: make chocolate covered dried fruit for Jen's party. Go to Jen's party (remember fruit - trust me I've made things & left them at home before). Make another class sample for the Valentine edition of Out of Bounds (this will be sample #4, the other 3 are on walk-about). Finish unpacking from DC & pack for Japan. Go to Kinkos & get a ton of chipboard cut into 1 inch strips. Make to do lists for before I leave so I can pay the necessary bills & get the necessary meds/groceries, etc. TRY TO RELAX.

I almost forgot! I got the most fabulous screen cleaner for my computer for FREE! *click here* to get your own. Happy Saturday!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Super Kit Deal!!!

You may remember the 12 kits Luxe did in December with our launch of Luxe Limited...well, we're down to the final few & decided to do a fun promotion with them!

These 12 kits are all project based and include a ton of product & several include specific project instructions. Many of them were created by yours truly and the others were created by our other fabulous Luxe girls! All come with a short story that inspired the look & feel of the kit (fun).

When you purchase one of the remaining Luxe Limited kits, you will receive a FREE Luxe Girl's favorites kit (approx $12 value), which we will custom pick, especially to suit your tastes, based on what you ordered.

So shop Luxe Limited, because when these kits are gone, they're retired forever!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Space...

I have recently become a my space user...I've had an account for a few years, but never really logged on {as a matter of fact, it's still connected to an ancient email}. I recently remembered my login & checked it out & realized that it's all just html code, which {thanks to blogger} I'm pretty good at.

I changed the look of it today - it was a little on the dark side for my tired eyes. I loved this collage from One of my unofficial goals for this year is to learn how to do my own custom layouts...

If you're up in the space, go check it out. I'm always looking for more scrappy friends.

Friday, February 15, 2008

An update from D.C...

Life is good. Had a great show, came home to a perfect circus rose and a handmade card from my awesome husband and bounced from Dallas to Dulles in a matter of hours.

DC is awesome & I'm having a fabulous time. I'm not worn out {which I was a little afraid of} - I'm actually quite refreshed! I'm hanging out with some old friends & making some new ones - Shimelle & Jen, Margie, Donna, Stacy & Paula, Tia & Kristina.

Marirosa & Ashlie took the group of us out in a limo this morning to tour the capital building before we set up for Scrapbowl. We had a fab time {even stopping at Paper Source in Georgetown afterwards} & I wanted to share some pics from the day...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"Sense"-ational (and Short) Sundays...

My senses - the weary CHA version...


I HEAR: Jen sleeping.
I TASTE: margaritas, on the rocks, extra salt.
I TOUCH: my brown luggage every day, digging out my stuff.
I SMELL: coffee, the stronger the better...

I'll post more later!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Blogging as a procrastination technique...

Today I lost 168 freight. ScrapBowl finally shipped {ahhhhh - feeling of relief}. I still need to wrap up packing, but I'm procrastinating right now. We fly out at gosh-awful o'clock in the morning so I better get cracking! Next time I blog I'll be in Anaheim...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More from Transparently Yours...

Here are some shots of my other project from Transparently Yours {my transparency class for this year...or until I redo it}.This one is a matchbook album built with papers, the Luxe project die & rubs & transparencies. I just love this little thing!We'll see how this one goes when I teach it time-wise. Now that I look at the projects side by side this& the wild woman album may spin into 2 classes down the road...