holidays

loving: Made by Mary necklaces

For two Christmases in a row, my gift request has been a customized necklace from Made by Mary – and I have a growing wish list of styles, so I wouldn’t be disappointed to receive another one! READ MORE

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kiwi kale smoothie recipe and this week’s meal plan

What did you eat over the holidays? In Japan it’s traditional to prepare an elaborate collection of osechi ryōri in advance and pull them out for oshogatsu (New Year’s day) celebrations – and then for easy meals over the next few days, rather than cook on a day meant for resting. I like the idea, but don’t love all of the classic osechi flavors so we decided to go rogue this year and skip it altogether. READ MORE

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2018 fukubukuro (and what I bought at LeCreuset instead of a Lucky Box)

Over the years I’ve had limited success with fukubukuro (lucky bags) and generally try to avoid the crazy lines that accompany New Year’s bargain season here in Japan.

This year I tried the online application system for a Starbucks fukubukuro and failed to get a ticket, so I thought about reserving one of the Lucky Boxes that LeCreuset was offering instead. READ MORE

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easy DIY Christmas Gifts to make with kids

We’ve gotten into the habit of letting the kiddo make (at least part of) the gifts he gives to family. Starting when he was just a toddler, we set up easy projects for him and they’re always a hit. If you want to do something with your little ones, there’s still time! Here are a few quick and easy ideas that could be pulled off this weekend: READ MORE

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our Advent calendars this year (spoiler: they’re picture books and Duplo!)

We always end up with a chocolate calendar, even on the years I swear them off, but this season we’re trying out a few popular Advent trends to see if one of them sticks around and becomes a family tradition.

Our first countdown to Christmas is this basket of children’s books. I had originally thought of wrapping them and putting them under the tree, but then I realized how much paper (and time!) that would take. Instead, I evicted our board book collection from its basket and refilled it with holiday books numbered from 1-24. Tie a red ribbon around it and we’re done! READ MORE

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Kinder Advent calendar & this week’s meal plan

Do you do a chocolate Advent calendar? In our house, we usually get one but since the kiddo is so little, he has to share the chocolates with mom or dad (one of my better ideas, I must say). And because the chocolate is a treat for the adults too, we try to get a good quality set that everyone can look forward to after dinner. In the past we’ve picked up something nice at Costco or the Lindt shop at our train station, but this year one of mochi’s sisters beat us to it and definitely scored major “cool aunt” points by arriving from Germany with a giant one filled with Kinder surprise eggs. I think building the little toys is at least as exciting for the kiddo as eating chocolate, so he’s loving it! READ MORE

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creamy tomato gnocchi & this week’s meal plan

Did you celebrate Thanksgiving last week? If so, I hope you had a great one! We made a little feast, including this pumpkin pie and the pecan slab pie from Smitten Kitchen‘s new cookbook and both were great. The kiddo loves baking, so it was nice to have the day off to slowly prepare everything together. He also made our cranberry sauce and is so proud of it!  READ MORE

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Thanksgiving in Tokyo & this week’s meal plan

This year marks my 13th Thanksgiving since moving to Japan. It’s probably my favorite family holiday, which makes it my most homesick weekend as well. Over the years I’ve celebrated in every way from turkey delivery at work to fancy course menus, and with anywhere from one other person to several dozen. These days we mostly celebrate as a little family, enjoying a comfort food feast with all the sides I love and as close to a turkey as I can manage. Luckily, Thanksgiving Day coincides with a Japanese national holiday this year so we’ll have all day to prepare together. Our little guy loves to bake and help mix things (and is actually old enough to be helpful now!), so I think it will be extra fun.  READ MORE

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piñata how-to (with lots of pictures!)

Let’s be honest, making a piñata is a bit of a process – there are a lot of steps and a lot of waiting around for things to dry – but it’s not difficult! Since they’re not easy to come by in Japan, if I want a piñata I have to make it myself.

Whether you’re looking for a handmade touch or have no other option, I hope this tutorial helps you make one too! READ MORE

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Halloween books (and our favorite bilingual books for toddlers!)

When I decided to write this post I imagined myself gathering a small stack of Halloween books from our shelves, but quickly realized that we only have two!

Oops. As anticlimactic as that may be, it was a good reminder that I need to finally order the two that have been sitting in my shopping cart: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara. Are there any others that you would recommend? READ MORE

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