Thursday, January 31, 2008

Never was any good at chemistry but...

I took one chemistry class in high school and I can't really say that I enjoyed it. I learned more about my friends, Doug and Kris, chatting at the back of the class than about the elements in the periodic chart.

Yet, here I am 25 years later (AAAAACK!), trying to make the most of a couple of the elements on that chart. Etsy printmaker Jenn of azuregrackle put together a project assembling the work of 96 different printmakers from around the world, with their interpretations of the elements.

You can see the whole incredible table here:
I'm proud to say that I did two elements (eep!), Magnesium (12) and Argon (18).

I was rather terrified to participate initially because I figured my skills in carving were pretty basic compared to the crazy talent of the other printmakers. I was right. Oh well, I did my best and was happy with what I came up with and the project as a whole is all the more interesting with the variety of ideas and prints. I am surrounded by beautiful work in this chart. Go ahead, click on that link above and have another look...

The project has been noticed too, featured on Neatorama a few days ago, and yesterday on BoingBoing!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I stunk...

Last year at this time I was in Edmonton, Alberta visiting my sister and her family. I discovered this wonderful soap made by a small, but ever-growing company in Alberta, called Rocky Mountain Soap The original store is in a small town near Banff and Lake Louise, called Canmore. This is a shot of the "Three Sisters" mountain peaks, taken from the car as we left Canmore.

You can also find the store in Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg. You can imagine how heavy my bag was when I returned from Edmonton last year - and how great it smelled when I opened it! This is my favourite soap of theirs, Mountain Dew, which is a mix of spearmint and kelp - very fresh and yummy.

My husband and I have been using hand-made soaps, i.e. soaps with no preservatives or chemically stuff for a couple of years now and like trying different ones. We like supporting local craftspeople, so we always buy some at the craft shows I do.

Luckily as well, we found some super soap makers on Etsy!!!

I’ve tried a few, but here is by far my favourite (bar none - haha!) because of her wonderful service and make-us-smile soap. Great lather and texture, wonderful scents, generous bars. My husband enjoys them as much as I do and he’s fussier than I am about the scents (doesn’t like smelling too flowery or sweet). Our fave soap maker on Etsy: Currently in active use in our shower, this gorgeous bar:

Because I mentioned that I was in the lovely province of Alberta last year at this time, here is me on frozen Lake Louise. That's the hotel at the other end - sorry, it was a misty day, so the hotel and Rockies are a little veiled.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Paper, paper, paper, rat

You probably know that I love paper. I just love it. Which is why I tend to hoard it. I've been calling myself a paper hoarder, but I also don't have a storage system or shelves that can keep large sheets of paper readily accessible and visible. One day when I have a humungous studio, they will have a lovely home and they will be seen. And I'll probably live up to my "paper hoarder" title by still not using them! I took these sheets of bingata that I bought in Tokyo, out of my zipped up portfolio after almost four months of confinement. I'm sure they're happy to see the light of day.

I’m very happy with these cards, made with my favourite paper, with the glossy raised crests, or mon, printed on them.

This paper in the gorgeous eggplanty purple is just so saturated with colour, I want to lick it. I didn’t though.
And I'm rather excited about this, a limited edition pendant, made with a current Canadian stamp. Canada Post has issued a New Year’s stamp every year since 1997 to correspond with the year and the animal in the Chinese lunar cycle. 2008 is the year of the Rat, the first year in the cycle and the last stamp in this series. It was designed by Toronto illustrator Harvey Chan. These stamps are already sold out in many postal outlets, but I got my hands on some! You can read more about the stamps here, and find the pendant in my Etsy shop!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Giving your all...

I have to start by saying that I have never been a fan of Céline Dion. At all. I know she is a talented singer and performer, but her music is just not my cup of tea.

We just watched the documentary on her new dvd and I cried through much of it. If anyone questions her presence and power as a live performer, as a professional, as a leader, as a comedian, as a motivator, as a genuine human being, this is something to see.

I know there are many Céline lovers out there who must cry when they see her, and I guess this is normal since I know I cried when I saw James Taylor, Sarah MacLachlan, and both times I saw Paul Simon in concert. I love their music, their songs, their words, so being emotional seeing them makes sense. But I cry when I see Céline perform. I cried upon seeing several parts of this video, I cried the times I saw her on Oprah, I cried when I saw her being interviewed.

I think it's because she gives her all and you can really feel it. And she's honest about everything. She's hardworking, expressive and funny, and so generous and you can feel it. I guess that's why people all over the world love her so much, there is just something very special about her. So that even if her music on its own doesn't touch you , everything else about her does so that eventually the music isn't so bad either!

There are a lot of talented people out there, but it's not just anyone who can accomplish the monumental feats that she has. It's what you do with your talent that sets you apart, and it's realizing that your true value is not just in what you do, but who you are as a heart & soul person. I think Céline Dion recognizes her talent as simply a wonderful gift to share with and inspire others.

People who give their all make me cry. When we went to Japan this past October and Kodo's apprentices performed for us, JF and I cried. Sobbing, hard-to-catch-your-breath, pathetic crying (caught on film!). But it was because they were giving 250%, offering us their all and more, and there is nothing more moving than being offered such a treasure.

So I'm still not a fan of Céline Dion's music, but I really admire her work and family ethic, and her as a human being. It's inspiring that someone with a career on that scale can keep things balanced and in perspective. And still give her all after all these years being in a very tough business.

Surely I can do my best to give my all, whether it's in my creative work, or teaching, or playing taiko or in being the best partner to JF. That's the least I can do, right?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dinner with friends ...

I woke up this morning to find this sushi platter pendant sold from my Etsy shop; nothing nicer than waking up to a sale, yay! I think I have one more of these left and I'm not sure I'll make more, so it may end up being a limited edition version. I'll see how my schedule goes this week.

... Hmmm, upon rethinking, I've made the decision to continue making them. Yes, I will. I think my first coffee of the morning helped me come this important decision.

Last night we went to dinner at a friend's house. He and his girlfriend moved into this great appartment a few months ago and after lots of hard work painting and sanding and decorating - wow, it looks amazing! What a gorgeous place to live. They overlook Parc Lafontaine, a beautiful green space in the midst of Montreal - actually a white space in the winter (the photos on that link are on a blog by some French expats now living in Montreal). I should've taken pictures of the view. If I lived there, I'd just be sitting in the bay window looking outside all day and never get a thing done (even lovelier at night).

We had raclette and fondue, mmmmm! It's frightening how much food you can keep scarfing down when you don't start out with a plateful of food in front of you, and you just keep putting little veggies in the fondue pot and cheese & potatoe on the raclette grill. After around two hours of talking, raclette, fondue, chitchat, raclette, fondue, more raclette, blabla, cackle, fondue, bit of raclette, talking - ♪ ♫ la dee da dee dahh ♫ ♪ Time flies and oh lala, you've eaten waaay too much. Did I take a photo of this lovely feast? No.

I did take a photo of the brownies I made for dessert though. Not terribly exciting, but so yummy. It's the recipe for brownies on the Baker's Chocolate box. Here it is, so you can try it (I added in my modifications in brackets):

Baker's One-Bowl Brownies:
4 squares (4 oz) Baker's Unsweetened chocolate,chopped
3/4 cup butter (I like demi-sel)
2 cups white sugar (I used 1 and a 1/2 cups - plenty sweet!)
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

Lightly grease a 9"x9" or even 8"x8" baking pan (package says 13"x9", but this would make the flattest brownies in town). Microwave chocolate and butter on medium for 2 minutes or until melted. Stir in sugar until well-blended; mix in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, and if you like, some chopped pecans (I prefer smooth brownies). Spread in pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until done; unlike cake, your toothpick shouldn't be dry when you test a brownie - it should be just a little sticky. I would even check it at 25 minutes since all ovens are different - you definitely don't want them overcooked! I threw on some dark chocolate chips as soon as it came out of the oven so it all melted - made it even more evil. You could also ice them or sprinkle icing sugar on them when cooled.

Sooo yummy and the easiest thing to bake!

Friday, January 25, 2008


It's Friday morning and I'm very relaxed - relatively speaking of course.

Relative to yesterday, when at this time I was already a little sweaty and a little clammy from nerves. We performed for the artists and staff of the Cirque du Soleil at their headquarters here in Montreal. A new show will be opening at Tokyo Disney this summer, the first resident show outside of North America. A theatre has been built especially for this new show, since it is scheduled to be there for the next ten years! Yesterday the Cirque was introducing its Tokyo performing artists and crew, and hired our group, Arashi Daiko, for a bit of noise.

We got to the community centre where we practice and store our taiko (drums) equipment, to sing through the pieces a few times and go over any last minute problems. The three of us performing were all a little distracted from nerves, and from the images of horror going through our minds - what if I forget what I'm supposed to play? what if I trip and fall? what if my bachi (drum stick) goes flying out of my hand? what if my pants fall down? what if I poke my eye out? what if I actually do vomit this time? Ok, so maybe I'm the only one whose mind wanders that much...

Upon mentioning how nervous we were at playing for THE Cirque, someone at our community centre adamantly said, "@*!#*$! They are the SAME as you and me, they are just human beings." Hmmm. Absolutely true. That simple statement really helped me breathe and enjoy a little. Odd, isn't it, how you can get so wrapped up in feelings of fear that can totally change how you perceive reality.

The Cirque's building is huge - a complex of offices, studios for designing, set building, costume sewing, creating, and huge practice areas for the performers. The main practice area was where we set up to play; we arrived in time to see some of the performers practicing before their lunch break. Wow.

We first played for some of the organization's directors who were having a meeting - we were told that we would be "waking them up a bit"! My bachi didn't fly into the crowd, and my pants stayed up, but the jingly bells attached to my okedo (portable drum worn over the shoulder) DID fall off. Hey, things happen, right? We paraded and played into the Cirque's three cafeterias to announce the introduction ceremony, inviting all the employees to attend. Fun! People who were simply trying to eat and talk over our clatter finally gave up when they saw we weren't stopping. Too much loudness to ignore.

Our set went well too, I think. The audience seemed to enjoy it. Phew. Phew...Phew! The best part of our experience was being fortunate enough to get a mini preview of some of the new show. This baton twirling/tossing/juggling guy from Japan did his beautiful routine, and a trapeze team did their crazy thing. Fear? FEAR?!!? What the heck is that?

All this was filmed for documentary purposes so maybe you'll see us in a Cirque dvd one day - hahaha!.

Since the new show is obviously top secret, we were not allowed to take any photos of our visit; I did, however get this shot of the dummy in the loading dock, who I take is used for examples of what NOT to do when working with the Cirque's heavy equipment and machinery - you'll note he's got no hands and one foot is going in the opposite direction. This is why they don't let the artists near the machines ;) ("Back AWAY from the electric saw...")

So our performance went alright, the sneak peek we were privy to was amaaazing, and highlighting it all was the warm and professional welcome we received. From the moment we arrived, we were well-taken care of; we had help unloading our equipment, someone keeping us up to date on schedule changes, and guides throughout the building complex so that we wouldn't get lost. An overall great experience with a wonderful organization who seemed to truly appreciate us too, so we were in turn able enjoy our experience !

Our next lofty goal: to get to Tokyo in the next couple of years and see this new show ☺

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How much cream can you drink?

So this was my breakfast about an hour ago. Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, orange juice & multivitamin (don't look for it, already swallowed) and coffee. I took this photo because I wanted to get a shot of the ONE LITRE container of coffee cream we have now graduated to. Mwahahahaaaaaa... JF said he felt like my brother, Doug, when he bought this big container yesterday, since my bro and his wife are major coffee drinkers, who easily go through one litre of cream per week. My husband doesn't drink coffee, but he now drinks Postum and likes cream in it. Postum is a cereal drink that's supposed to sort of, kind of taste like coffee - but it just tastes brown (coming from a coffee drinker).

This is my breakfast to prepare me to play for the Cirque de Soleil! Four hours and counting down. I'll let you know how it goes... eeep!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Toebitter tabi: an Etsy find

I'm going to try and feature a favourite from Etsy, at least from time to time. This is my second feature, and every time I look at these guys, I want them.

These are Toebitters Tabi socks. Tabi have traditionally been worn in Japan with a sandal that goes between the big toe and the rest. These ones, in a wonderful salmon-coral, are made by zerkahloostrah on Etsy. No, I don't neeeeed them, but yes, I waaaaant them.

There are also tabi with soles, that can be worn like shoes, that we wear when we play taiko. Very comfy once you get used to them. A member of our taiko group is cooperating by showing you the bottom of her foot here:

Here's another pair by zerkahloostrah, this time for men. The texture and deep green colour are great. You'll be surprised at how happy your big toe will be to have a little time on his own.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New banner

Did you notice my new banner?

I originally started blogging with the idea to talk about new creations, and to throw in the occasional bit about life and my other passions (taiko, cats, food etc.), but it's ended up being kind of half and half - on my creative work and on everyday life.

The old subheading for tatsuko: paper, polymer & ponderings was "jewellery, paper goods and enjoying the process," but since life often takes over and I just write what I want to write about, it's now been revised to "appreciating creative bursts and enjoying the process." A little more general.

Ok, so not a huge change, but it took me a few modifications before deciding on this one. And I added some photos of my work to the banner as well; three very significant pieces for me: my sushi jewellery, which first got me into making and selling jewellery; a photo pendant of my late mom (circa 1946) who still inspires me and keeps me going from the great beyond; and my "Happy Thoughts" greeting card - you can read more about that card here .

Since you can't see the pendant of my mom in the banner too well, here it is. She looks like a movie star.

So I'm pretty happy with the new look.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sweet treats and monsters

My friend Julie came over yesterday, to make manju - little Japanese cakes that have anko, or red bean paste on the inside, and dough on the outside. We made two kinds - mochi manju which is made with rice flour dough and yaki manju which has a sort of biscuit/pancake-y outer dough (our faves!). The mochi manju turned out a little wonky, but the yaki manju turned out just fine. Here they are cooking on the grill:

The little black bits on top are kurogoma, or black sesame seeds. Mmmmm...

Not so hard to make, but just time-consuming, since each one is hand-formed - a bit of a pain, but fun when you have good company ☺ Oddly enough, the recipe we used is Julie's grandmother's recipe, which ended up in MY mom's recipe book, via my mom's sister who knew Julie's grandmother (did ya get all that?). Julie didn't know of this recipe, so it's kind of neat in a good karma kind of way...

And Julie came bearing gifts. Look at this amazing tote bag! The pocket on the front is quilted layers of Japanese material in this lovely pattern - I'm not a sewer so I have no clue of technical terms - all I know is it's wonderfully made, I can put a lot in it, and I looove it!

Here's a close-up of the pocket:

Also included in my gift were these Godzilla (aka Gojira) stickers which made me growl - with glee. I'm not joking. I'm a fan of the old Godzilla movies, their cheesiness, and the fact that you can pretty much see the zipper on the costumes. And besides, the original movie's "no nukes" message just makes sense to me. Raaaaaaawrrrrrrr.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Not just any show...

I've got a few minor open wounds and bruises to tend to today.

I'm a taiko player with Montreal's Arashi Daiko, and we perform throughout the year at various festivals in and around the city, community events, private parties like weddings, corporate events and charities. We are used to rehearsing - rearranging pieces for the number of players available for any given performance, and with the years you get more accustomed and comfortable with performing and being "on" for the audience. Our latest gig is making us a little more nervous however. We have been hired to play for the Cirque du Soleil, at their headquarters here in Montreal.

Yes, FOR the Cirque!

A new show will soon be heading to Japan and so the Cirque wanted to send the cast and crew off with a bit of bang and a little taste of Japan. That's where our services come in. There are only three of us who were available for this gig since it's at the lunch hour this coming Thursday and everyone else will be working at that time (the 3 of us are self-employed, with flexi-schedules). We practiced last night and this morning for this performance, and still have a bit of work to do. We'll be practicing a little tomorrow morning too, and then on Wednesday. Parts of my hands are a little raw. The scary part is having to perform in front of these amazing performers. I know we'll be fine, but eeeee, just thinking of it makes me slightly clammy...

I will definitely let you know how it goes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Custom work...

I've been working on a custom order of pendants for four little girls - two pairs of sisters - whose families will be separated for a couple of years due to a job transfer. The moms are best friends, the dads are best friends, their four daughters are best friends. Needless to say, this is going to be tough on both families.

To make the separation a little easier on the girls (ages 3 to 5), one of the moms asked me to design a necklace to express the powerful bond the girls share. I immediately had a bird in mind as part of this project, to act as a messenger between the girls. My birdies turned out exactly as I had pictured them in my little brain. Colours are hand-mixed Kato polymer clay, in pearly pastels.

The rest came together pretty organically. Four amazing little girls, four lovely hearts for the top part of the pendant. Turquoise symbolizes communication, so I added a small turquoise stone dangle from the birdie's underside to keep communication open and thus, the friendship ever-growing.

I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. The moms seem to like them; I hope the girls will too. Children are the scariest customers since they cannot or will not lie. We will see...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Call for submissions and coffee...

I took some time to take photos of some newer bookmarks I've been making and posted them in my Etsy shop. I'm never sure if a bookmark is something people will actually be interested in buying, but then I'm always surprised at craft shows - at one show they're a big hit and I run out, and at another they're left gathering dust in my display. Go figure.

I now cover them in these neat vinyl cases, so they are well protected and more sturdy than my previous design. And I've also done away with the little bead tassle for a cleaner look. These are a few of my "Fishies" bookmarks, and below that, a bookmark in action...

Rockport Quarry Books is publishing a book called 1000 Handmade Greeting Cards, and they put out a call for entries. I submitted several designs yesterday, so I will keep my fingers crossed! Here's my "Bundled Baby" card, along with one in my "Pudgy Waiting Cat" series, which I sent in, among others.

I don't think I told you, but some of my jewellery designs were accepted for another book in this series, 1000 Jewelry Inspirations, which is set to come out in June 2008.

I'm so excited! My sushi platter pendant and earrings were chosen, as well as my chiyogami pendant and brooch.

To nourish my creativity...!
I'm off to make another coffee before heading into my workshop for the day. My husband got me a Bodum French press last week since this drip coffee maker I got on sale before the holidays was small, cute and cheap, but didn't make very tasty coffee, especially when making only a cup at a time. The Bodum is great, since you let the coffee soak in hot water for a few minutes before pushing the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot with a filtered plunger; the result is a full-flavoured, heart-palpitating drink that makes me do a little jig! If you love coffee that actually tastes like coffee (as opposed to what I call "brown crayon water"), this is the coffee maker for you. I don't think JF knew just how happy this little coffee pot would make me.

Looking forward to my second happy dance of the day...

Friday, January 11, 2008

New cards for the new year...

Been working on some new card designs, with Valentine's Day coming up and it being the year of the rat and all. My Valentine that I just posted in my Etsy shop is not just for Valentine's Day. I got this amazing paper when I was in Tokyo back in October at this beautiful little shop, called Bingataya, and of course I've been hoarding the sheets until now. My workshop is undergoing a bit of a spruce-up and I've had these many sheets of new paper hidden until I had a nice tidy surface to work on... Well, the way I work, that is just NOT going to happen! So I took it out anyway and have this to show for it.

Yesterday I was carving some rat stamps. The first stamp was a hefty rat, and a little too real looking. Not what I wanted for a card. This little guy looks a little shifty, but that's what I like about him ☺ He's just looking towards the new year ahead - so many things to accomplish...

Took lots of jewellery photos the other day, but haven't posted a lot of it yet. I'm kind of wanting to hang onto these earrings since I love 'em! I guess I should just make myself a pair.

Well, I'm still in a productive mood, so I'll go and do a bit more work before heading out to taiko practice in a couple hours.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Year's at the cemetary?

Strange but true. As I explained in my last entry, bringing in the New Year was always an important celebration for our family, so we brought a bit of the tradition to my parents' and paternal grandparents' grave.

On January 1st Montreal was hit with a snow storm - only 20cm fell, but it was a pretty blustery 20cm. Driving was treacherous so instead of the 40 to 50 guests we usually have for our New Year's feast, were 11 brave (or a little crazy!) souls. All the food pictured in my last entry did NOT go to waste! LOTS of leftovers for everyone ☺

January 2nd's sky was a crisp clear blue. Blue like you can only get on a cold winter day in Montreal. The cemetary looked so pretty covered in freshly fallen snow - and then we traipsed in, ruining it! You can see JF below, starting to shovel the spot around my parents' grave.

You're probably wondering what we brought with us to leave at the cemetary. Below you can see the two white discs and a clementine (tangerine) piled on the wooden marker. These are mochi, or pounded rice cakes that are made and eaten at New Year's by Japanese and Nikkei (people of Japanese descent) around the world. This arrangement is called kagami mochi and the two piled mochi are supposed to symbolize the old and new years; I think the orange is supposed to be the sun (or the moon?). Smaller mochi are eaten in a special soup on New Year's morning, called ozoni. I also love it for breakfast or as a snack - delish! I'm sure the cemetary's resident foxes ate these ones much to the delight of my mom, who was a great animal lover !

And here's me with my tangerine colour jacket - hard to miss me! I was happy to be there ☺

With all that snow, Ebi the cat - my mom's cat - was pretty content to go and sit out on our front balcony. He and our first cat, Chibi, are taking their time learning to live with each other.

We are really happy to have him since it is like having a part of my mom with us; feels like he's really completed our little family. I'll write more about the cats' odd but slowly developing relationship in another entry. Bye for now!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year!

Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu!

I'm starting this year full of ideas and goals; so many new things I want to create, which means I have to make a schedule and stick to it. Clear goals and sales objectives will also be on my stick-to-it schedule.

This past holiday season was a great one, so I feel motivated to organize myself for this new year. I have to thank all my new and returning customers for shopping at my online shop,, and for coming to see me at craft shows. Pretty exhausted after a busy production period, but I'm feeling good now, finally getting over a couple bouts with the same dang chest cold.

The holidays were busy, seeing family and friends and not having much time at home. I get a little cranky going out all the time, since I can be a real mole, happy to spend days at a time at home. I just like "being in my stuff." Kinda glad to be back to my regular schedule now, and looking forward to getting back to work!

The New Year's Day tradition at our family house...
New Year's has always been a big celebration at my house. Christmas was warm & cozy and for our immediate family, and once that was over, preparations began almost immediately for Oshogatsu, or the New Year when relatives and friends would drop by our house for a bite and a drink, to welcome in the coming year. It was kind of a Japanese Canadian tradition to go from house to house of friends and family, stay awhile, eat a little, and move onto the next; some families were hosts, while others did the house-hopping. We've always been hosts, and I know my dad particularly looked forward to this day every year, since his brothers and their families always came over and enjoyed all the food we had prepared. It never seemed to matter that we had a very small house; everyone just crammed themselves in, piled their coats on my parents' bed, and took shifts coming to the table to eat. There was food wherever there was a surface to put it on, desserts on the living room coffee table, fruit salad and munchies on the wall unit shelves, soda, beer and wine chilling in the snow out on the back balcony.

The tv set was usually temporarily moved to a bedroom for that day where people could sit if they absolutely had to watch the football game (usually my brothers and their friends). As a child, I loved having so many people in the house; I was amazed that we could feed so many and I was always so proud that everyone commented on how delicious everything was. My mom and dad made everything from scratch as most Japanese Canadians did since there were no ready-made Japanese foods available in stores - until fairly recently.

When my dad passed away in 1993, there was no question in my mom's mind that she wanted to continue this tradition and she did it for 12 years before she passed away in the summer of 2006. This was our second New Year's Day without her, but my brother, sister and I who are together (my other sister and two bros are in Western Canada and do not make it home for the holidays) for New Year's have kept the party going in my parents' honour.

Here's this year's menu (I'm sure I'm forgetting something), which has remained pretty much the same since my dad's time - well, with some year-to-year tweaking:

  • variety of makizushi and nigiri zushi;

  • sashimi - this year blue marlin added to the usual maguro;

  • Japanese Canadian style chowmein;

  • tako (octopus)

  • kazunoko (herring eggs)

  • shirai (spinach and tofu salad)

  • kinpira gobo

  • bean salad (has replaced potato salad, which we always had for the newbies who didn't like Japanese food)

  • chashu (bbq pork)

  • Shoyu chicken

  • baked salmon

  • wonton

  • variety of pickles
  • manju, or Japanese red-bean filled sweets
  • fruit salad and mikan (little oranges, now replaced by clementines)
  • sweets galore

And here are some photos of our spread:

The table is ready!

Nigiri zushi -maguro (melt-in-your-mouth)

Smoked salmon, suzuko and masago sushi

Maki platter with inarizushi; next to it is blue marlin sashimi

My brother's secret tako recipe - cooked to perfection every time, NEVER rubbery! It was just taken out of the pot here, so it's still steaming...

Baked red snapper, its head and tail arched upwards for a yearful of good luck! He's resting on a new platter made by my potter friend, Yukari, who came over to help with preparations. She surprised me with that beautiful gift on New Year's morning, just perfect for our fish! You can see more of her work here:

Hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about our New Year's tradition; we plan to keep this going for years to come! Will write again soon :)