Monday, January 31, 2011

Back to the Earth

During these cold winter months I miss gardening; I miss talking to my worms and digging my hands through rich brown soil.  I miss participating in the growth cycle of all sorts of different plants and I miss benefitting from their growth - the fresh-cut flowers, the vegetables, the cheerful greenery...

But I'll settle for these encouraging articles about other people enjoying the process! I love these kinds of stories of people who are expanding their lives to include more conscientious lifestyle choices and community building. And I'll also settle for the scrumptious act of dreaming and planning what will be peeking through my dirt come spring.

Good bye January... hurry up and come spring! I'm ready for you!

Friday, January 28, 2011

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).

a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.

if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


What a difference a year makes! Happy birthday to the sweet girl who has brought so much joy to her MamaM.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bundle Up for Free Admission to Utah's Hogle Zoo on Wednesday, January 26th!

For those of us who live in Utah - it wasn't too cold outside today, was it? Hopefully, the weather will last (or improve) for this Wednesday when Hogle Zoo offers free admission. Supposedly the zoo is a different experience during the winter because many of the animals who live in cooler climates are much more active.

Hogle Zoo offers free admission the last Wednesday of every month from November to February so if you can't make it in January, maybe you can plan for February. For more information about Hogle Zoo, click HERE.

Deal of the Day! $20 for $40 Worth of Organic, Natural, Green, and Eco-Friendly Products from Abe's Market

Just thought our readers might be interested in today's deal from Mamapedia (another daily group buying site) - $20 for $40 worth of goods from Abe's Market which is an on-line natural goods store. Click HERE to get the deal. Unlike Groupon, I believe that this deal lasts for several days but there is a limited quantity available. Just remember to always read the fine print (like when the certificate expires or if it can be used on shipping) and check out the website for Abe's Market HERE to see if the have products you are interested in.

kokeshi love

I recently finished knitting a little kokeshi doll for Mayumi - a late Christmas present and a project that I've had in the works for almost a year. I purchased it as a kit from Purl Soho during my last trip to NYC.

I have a soft spot for these little limbless dolls. The historical purpose of kokeshi is a bit ambiguous - some believe they were used as massage tools, some say they represented children who died, some say they were good luck charms. I gravitate towards the theory that they embody a wish to give birth to a happy, beautiful baby. I am always looking for some good fertility mojo!

In the spirit of my kokeshi love, here are some lovely little creations I came across on the web:

from Asial's shop

from temple7e

from labeba

from 26Seven

Let me know if you find any other kokeshi creativity out there!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

3 Things: Pet peeves

It's been a while since we wabisabi mamas have done a 3 things post, but it's time for a comeback. Today's topic: pet peeves.

1. Long toenails: Wughh! Long toenails creep me out! I hate it when my toenails are so long that they crush against my shoes or get caught on a blanket when I move my foot across it. I usually keep mine excessively short (probably someone else's pet peeve) and am never satisfied on the rare occasion I get a pedicure because the aesthetician never files them down short enough. And I'm sorry, but I just don't think toenails should be long enough to get a french manicure.

2. Willful ignorance: There's this super-right guy at work who always forwards me ridiculous political e-mails. Besides being a completely inappropriate action for the workplace, does this guy really believe that stuff? Obama is not a Muslim and who cares if he is!

3. Merge-before-the-merge-ers: Utah drivers have a special place in my heart relating to this matter. They just don't understand the merge, which is fine with me, because I get to pass the sometimes miles-long merged traffic lane until I get to the real place where the merge is supposed to occur. At that point, I sometimes get angry looks from the already-merged drivers who don't want to let me in (mad that they weren't smart enough to merge at the merge?). It is honestly confusing.

What are your pet peeves?

Friday, January 21, 2011

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).

a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Deal of the Day! $20 Amazon Giftcard for only $10!

Has everyone else discovered social buying sites like Groupon and Living Social? Well, today on Living Social, you can get a $20 Amazon giftcard for only $10!! That is 50% off!!! Click on the link below if you are interested:

Disclosure: I do get credit if you click on the personal link above but if you just want to get it on your own, just sign up for Living Social and see today's deal - I think it is nationwide.

Oishii: Miso soup

Don't you love going to Japanese restaurants and starting off with a steaming bowl of miso soup?

I think many people (including me) get  intimidated by Asian foods because they are not familiar with the ingredients, but this soup is actually very easy to make. It does involve a couple of ingredients that might not be available at your local grocery store, but don't get scared! I found this website that gives a great basic overview of the two less-familiar ingredients needed for miso soup: dashi stock (the Japanese version of chicken stock) and miso paste. The recipe I linked to also includes wakame, or dried seaweed, but you don't have to use that (I prefer my miso soup without seaweed). 

Let me know if you give it a shot and how it turned out!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Meditation: Love & Light & MLK

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK, today we honor you. Last year we went on a pilgrimage to find your influence around our city. Today, we meditate on your words, your spirit, your example, and your legacy. It has been an interesting start to the new year; there has been more gun violence on our doorstep, wars that are continuing to be fought, deepening economic woes, and lots of personal tragedies and suffering all around. Some would say that things are dark and grim, but if that is the case, only the more reason to be a light unto others, a city set on a hill. Only the more reason to set a standard of love and compassion in our families and communities! MLK, thank you for your contributions to our country and to the world.

Today is a national day of service. What are you doing to honor the spirit of MLK?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I am Tiger Mom, hear me roar?

I know this has probably been over-blogged, but I can't help but jump on the bandwagon and throw in my reactions and two cents on this. A few days ago my dad sent me this article from the Wall Street Journal with the subject header "Wow."

If you haven't read it (or even heard about it), you should read it - it is fascinating and very provocative. It is written by Yale law professor Amy Chua and discusses her "Chinese" philosophy of strict, regimented, no holds-barred parenting. Printed just as her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother hit the bookstores, you could consider it brilliant marketing since all the debate and uproar has shot the book up the bestsellers list. But I think this shake-up is timely in other aspects, too - at least for me. I struggle with how I will approach raising (and homeschooling) my child. So this has given me the opportunity and fodder to examine my own approach to parenting.

Just as a side-note; I was raised by a Japanese mother and it was nothing like the "Chinese" parenting described in the article. It wasn't quite the "western" paradigm either. Expectations were there to succeed, but there was never any belittling...

But to be perfectly honest, I sometimes wish my parents had been a bit more strict and pushed me a bit harder. I don't say that in a critical way - my poor mom carries enough guilt and regret about her parenting as it is (she is crazy - she was/is a most wonderful mother and so was/is my dad). But no parent is perfect (though we expect them to be, don't we? And some people can never quite forgive their parents for that). I know I have so much to learn about how to be a good mama, but I assume the Chinese model and the Western model are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps a better method is finding a way to integrate the two paradigms? Strictness with compassion? High expectations with room for fun?

One of the most interesting thing to me in this article was this quote:
Western parents are concerned about their children's psyches. Chinese parents aren't. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.
I actually had to stop and ask myself what I assumed about Mayumi's psyche, and though I would describe her as a tough kid, I think I behave as if I'm terrified that I'll cause some psychological damage that will result in years of expensive therapy. Oh, that is bad, isn't it? I could never condone calling your child garbage, but the strictness and the emphasis on hard work and achievement is something that I think is missing from my own parenting. I've noticed I'm too quick to give in when Mayumi is whining or crying. I'm so afraid that she is going to be unhappy in the present moment that I'm unable to see the bigger picture and understand that sometimes I have to be the tough one and not indulge her whims and fancies all the time, for her own good.  So, in addition to trying to create a more tranquil and less rushed environment, I am now trying set stronger boundaries and expectations of proper behavior in our home (in a loving and compassionate way, of course). It's only been a few days, and it is a constant struggle, but I think we're starting to see some changes.

But not allowing her to participate in sports and school plays? Now, that is a little extreme... (so says this actress!). The troubling thing for me, in this article, is not just the demoralizing that can go on, but the over-emphasis on academic achievement. Mayumi is only three years old and though we participate in some informal "schooling," I'm a big believer that an important part of development is play and exploration. I don't think academic prowess necessarily makes you a successful person. To me, success is about knowing how to find your happiness. What good are straight A's and a high salary if you are miserable? For some counterpoints to Chua's article you may want to check out this article from the Examiner about pushing preschoolers and this oped from about letting kids play. Fascinating stuff.

Forgive my rambling, but it helps to clarify my own thoughts and who knows? Maybe you can shed some light on this stuff for me, too!

Friday, January 14, 2011

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).
a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.
if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend, full of discovery and adventure!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Free National Parks Weekend

On this long, MLK weekend, you can enjoy free entrance to all national parks. Many national parks are already free but there are some that do charge entrance fees, so go HERE to check out which national parks are in your area and ENJOY!

I'm lucky to live in a state with one of the most national parks in the country (Utah; California is first) although I won't be able to enjoy it this weekend because I'll be going out of town (plus, it is so ridiculously cold). If you can't make it to a national park this weekend, check out all the other free weekends available throughout the year.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Poetry Perfection

The smell of ink is intoxicating to me - others may have wine, but I have poetry.  
~Terri Guillemets

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.  
~Christopher Fry

Part of our Christmas/New Year celebration is reading/writing poetry. Okay, it's something that we do year-round, but it is especially important now.

Traditionally poetry was a part of the Japanese celebration of the new year. Probably the most famous form of poetry in Japan is haiku. A haiku consists of three lines: the first line contains 5 syllables, the second line contains 7 syllables, and the third line returns to five syllable. Rhyming is optional. Topics are usually from the natural world, but these days anything goes. It's easy and can be pretty fun, so here are some ideas for your own poetry reading:

- gather your friends and/or family together and make sure there is plenty of paper and pencils to go around
- have everyone write their own haiku on the same subject (everyone writes about winter, things they're grateful for, favorite goodnight story, etc.). Each one gets to read their poem aloud OR select one person to read them all and everyone can guess who the author is.
- poetry circle: everyone writes a haiku and then passes it to the next person who then adds on their own haiku in response. Read them aloud!

Last year my friend, Lindsay, celebrated her birthday with a poetry slam and asked everyone to write a poem in honor of her and to be prepared to perform it.  The results were both hilarious and inspiring!  Everyone should have poetry in their life!

The only problem
with Haiku is that you just
get started and then
~Roger McGough

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Little Cheeks giveaway winner

The winner of the Little Cheeks Boutique giveaway, according to Random Number Generator, is MaurLo.

Blogger MaurLo said...

Too cute! Love those ties...
January 1, 2011 10:29 AM

MaurLo, please let us know your e-mail address at so we can get you in touch with Little Cheeks to claim your $25 gift certificate.

Thanks to everyone who entered and "liked" the Little Cheeks Facebook page.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I like it raw

Honey, people. I'm talking about honey.

Some of you may remember a post I did back in November about eating better. One way I'm trying to do this is by eating more "supefoods," including raw honey. I didn't even know what raw honey was until recently when the hubs and I found a local company that makes it.

The owner educated us about the differences between raw honey and processed honey, and why the former is superior. Processed honey ("regular" honey) goes through a pasteurization process that heats it up to very high temperatures to get rid of impurities and make it easier to package. However, this pasteurization process also kills the yeast and enzymes that are beneficial to your body.

Raw honey, on the other hand, is not pasteurized and maintains high levels of antioxidants and enzymes that are good for you.

I'm actually not a honey lover--processed or raw (which really don't taste that different)--but mix it frequently into green smoothies or other foods where the taste is somewhat masked.

This is just a very small step in my renewed efforts to take better care of my body. Thought I'd share for those of you interested in doing the same!

Friday, January 7, 2011

{this moment}

a friday ritual (inspired by soulemama).

a single photo capturing a moment from the week. a simple, special, extraordinary moment. a moment to pause, savor and remember.

if you're inspired to do the same, share a link to your 'moment' in the comments!

wishing you a lovely weekend!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Three Kings Day to You!

Our second annual twelfth night celebration was last night. (you can read about our first one here). We invited some friends over to feast on traditional English Twelfth Night Cake (I totally burned it AGAIN!). Mr. Q was the lucky one to find the bean in his slice, making him the king of the feast and the recipient of good luck this new year. We LOVE this tradition and plan to continue it forever, though I need to perfect my cake-making skills (or find a new recipe... anyone?). It looked pretty though, right?

Our celebration of the twelve days of Christmas has been pretty low-key since we were all getting over colds and holiday fatigue. We came back from New England and just enjoyed some down time in our own home, which was lovely. We managed to get out a few times, once to introduce Mayumi to the joys of ice-skating.

We dined on traditional Japanese fare on New Year's Eve. Mom would've been proud of my udon nabe, omochi, and mikan (okay, they were just clementines, but close enough!). 

New Year's Day was so warm around these parts, that I was actually able to go outside and do some clean-up work in the yard. Cutting back some old plants and general tidying actually had me breaking a sweat - it was wonderful! And I had my favorite little helper working alongside me.

I also found some time to finish up a few projects around the house, including sewing some curtains for the guest bedroom and the playroom area. The guest bedroom curtains were made from a store-bought shower curtain (I loved the print) and the playroom curtains from a vintage sheet I picked up at the thrift store for $1.50.

We continued to enjoy Christmas music and all the decorations (which come down today because it's bad luck to keep them up past the 6th!). I'll have to do some more research to find some more meaningful activities to honor the twelve days of Christmas, but I'm content with the family time we had. Next year will come soon enough!

Hope you all have had a wonderful yuletide and are starting your year off well. May 2011 be a blessed and tranquil year for all of us!

Little Cheeks giveway - only two days left!

Only two days left to enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Little Cheeks Boutique. Learn how and see what you could win in this post.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Meditation: Grieving

Every great loss demands that we choose life again. We need to grieve in order to do this. The pain we have not grieved over will always stand between us and life. When we don't grieve, a part of us becomes caught in the past like Lot's wife who, because she looked back, was turned into a pillar of salt. Grieving is not about forgetting. Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain. It is a sorting process. One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them. One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again.
~ Rachel Naomi Remen

When our spirit tells us it is time to weep, we should weep. It is part of the ritual, if you will, of putting sadness in perspective and gaining control of the situation. . . . Grief has a purpose. Grieving does not mean you are weak. It is the first step toward regaining balance and strength. Grieving is part of the tempering process.
~ Joseph M. Marshall III
I've been thinking a lot about MamaD. For those who don't know, she lost her sweet mother-in-law to cancer last week.

My heart aches for PapaD and for little Lucy who won't have the benefit of growing up under her grandmother's influence. It's hard to find the right words to express my synpathy, to offer condolence. Losing a loved one is such a difficult thing to understand. My friend, Suzanne, recently lost her father and she is clearly still grieving and coming to terms with his death. She shared a profound thought a few weeks ago that has given her a little comfort and also shed some light on some of my own personal struggles: "it takes great faith to move mountains, but sometimes it takes greater faith to accept that the mountain will not move." We pray for miracles but sometimes those miracles don't come and we are left to make sense of it all. Passing through sorrow is inevitable and I suppose ultimately strengthens us in the end and makes the sweet moments in life all the sweeter. But for now it is okay to cry. To grieve.

I will cry with you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Year of Tranquility

Go easy. You may have to push forward, but you don't have to push so hard. Go in gentleness, go in peace.
~Melody Beattie
I have been pondering much on the subject of peace and mindfulness. I feel like I am always rushing, trying to be as productive and busy as I can be. I'm always saying to Mayumi, "Hurry!" and I have come to the conclusion that it is bad parenting and all-around bad living. As I re-examine my life and think about resolutions for this new year, I realize I really want zen. I want my home to be a haven and my life to be a reflection of peace. 

My friend, Teabelly, likes to start every January off with a theme that she centers her year around (this year is her year of LOVE). In that inspirational spirit, I am announcing 2011 to be a year of tranquility for me. I am going to put more effort into being mindful of all my actions, taking time to truly listen to and play with my daughter, practicing compassion in all of my relationships (especially with myself), avoiding over-scheduling and rushing around, and embracing the wabisabi moments that make up my days. I have already banished the word "hurry" from my vocabulary and I am shocked at the difference it has made in the atmosphere of my home and in my interactions with the people around me.
My mantra:
To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with an open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden, and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.
~William Ellery Channing
Let me know what your resolutions are, dear reader, and also be a good friend and remind me when I am exhibiting signs of pushing too hard. A gentle reminder here and there will always be much appreciated.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Laughter

The Japanese believe it is auspicious to start the New Year with a good laugh.  Waraizome, or "first laughter" is high on my list because not only do I need all the good luck I can get, it just feels good to laugh, doesn't it? So if you have a good joke or a funny story, please share.

I have one for you.  Over Christmas vacation my brother and dear mother took Mayumi to Chuck E. Cheese one evening so Mr. Q and I could go on a date (a rare occasion for us!).  As any child would be, especially during her first foray into the world of arcade games, she was full of wonder and glee.  At one point she turned to my brother and announced "Uncle Chris, this is so fun!  Maybe when you and Baba (her grandmother) go on a date my mommy and daddy can take me here!"

Oedipus anyone?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Giveaway! Little Cheeks Boutique

We are lucky to have a great giveaway by Little Cheeks Boutique this month. All you have to do to be eligible  to win a $25 gift certificate to this adorable children's shop is "like" the Little Cheeks Facebook page and leave a comment here letting us know you've done so.

Little Cheeks is run by the very wabisabi Nichole Enoch, who had always dreamed of starting her own business. Last November, Nichole turned that dream into a reality when she opened Little Cheeks with her husband. Little Cheeks offers unique clothes, accessories and baby items for girls and boys (important for this mother of two boys) with an emphasis on affordability--nothing in the store is more than $40. But you'd never guess by looking at what they offer:


When naming the boutique, Little Cheeks was actually not even on the short list, but Nichole kept finding herself saying to her little baby, "I just love your little cheeks!" The name was added to the list, a vote was taken and Little Cheeks came out victorious!

If you know some little cheeks that could benefit from cute new gear, enter this giveaway today! While Little Cheeks doesn't have an online store, you can find photos and prices of most of the items offered on the Little Cheeks blog or Facebook page.  Nichole will ship the item(s) directly to the winner.

Comments must be received by Saturday, January 8 at midnight EST.