August 31, 2009

Favorite Blogs (お気に入りのブローグズ)

Everyday I take a moment to have a nice cup of coffee and visit my favorite blogs, it's one of my happy moments. I love seeing crafty, hand made, and aesthetically pleasing things. These blogs have it all and then some.

{image from Lovely Package}

The first one is Lovely Package. Everyday they have some beautiful, special, or well designed packages from all over the world. Today they have a minimalist coffee packaging from Japan; the simplistic nature is a far cry from most coffee packaging in the West. I already smell the coffee!

{image from 暮らしのかたち}

Another cute blog is 暮らしのかたち(Ku-la-shi-no-ka-ta-chi), translated directly---the form of life. Toshi, the blogger, likes to go find and try different Zakka stores and cafes all over Japan; taking pictures along the way. This blog makes me homesick. The blog is in Japanese, if you don't read Japanese, you probably won't be able to get the info to go visit the places. But he does have good pictures, so even just looking through the pictures is worth it. You can see many unique cafes and stores in Japan.

Finally, my all-time favorite is lovelydesign. I always find that Sharilyn not only shares her design ventures, but she also shares the design transformations of her own home. It's such a pleasure to be invited into someone's world like that. I really treasure her site!

The best thing about these blogs is that they're a great place to discover independent sellers and exceptional crafts. I've done some of my Christmas shopping from different stores found on each of these blogs. This year, there will be some unique gifts under the tree!

August 24, 2009

My First Print Gocco Project (初めてのプリントゴッコ)

I remember at least 10 different Print Gocco commercials in Japan while growing up. These two (from 0:14 to o:43, the rest of the commercials are not for Print Gocco but done by the same actress..., sorry, I don't know how to edit this video I found from YouTube) are from the 90's and are the ones I remember the most. I didn't own a Print Gocco at that time but I still remember the melody and the happy, funny commercials.

Print Gocco
(プリントゴッコ pronounced 'Pu-rin-to Gok-ko') is a Japanese color screen printing system developed in 1977 by Noboru Hayama. Resembling a toy, the compact and completely self-contained printer is clean, quick and easy to use. Gocco became immensely popular in Japan and at one time nearly one third of households in Japan owned a Print Gocco. The reason it became popular in Japan was because it's our custom to send out New Year's Cards (年賀状) and Summer Cards (暑中見舞い) to friends, family, colleagues and even business clients. It's a National Event (国民行事)! With Print Gocco, you can easily design and make as many cards as you want inexpensively. It's fun to do with your family and friends.

Unfortunately, on May 30, 2008, the Riso Kagaku Corporation (理想科学) announced that it will stop making Gocco printers in June 2008. They blamed the sharp decline in demand for their printers on the increase in use of home computers and printers. This means when I want one in 2009, I can't just ask my family in Japan to get one for me at the regular price but have to go on eBay and pay extra money to get one.

Finally I got my Print Gocco! It's a PG-11. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

Place the original on the sticky pad.

Voila! My First Master.

Mix inks to get the color I want.

Apply the ink to the master.

My First Gocco Printout.

I have to admit that I was a bit too greedy when I made the master. I wanted to use the screen to its max since it is not that cheap, I didn't want a full screen with just my business card on it, so I planned ahead with layouts on my masters: I had a front and a back side of my business card, as well as a return address I could print on my outgoing mail. The mistake I made was that I spread them out too much the corners got cropped, the 4 corners of the image burned on the screens were not crisp enough to make a good print. I should have keep the original no bigger than 4" x 6".

Below I attached a helpful video for beginners, just in case you are interested in how the Print Gocco works.

August 13, 2009

[shikisai] alternative T-shirts (Tシャツブランドーシキサイ〕)

Shikisai (シキサイ) is a alternative T-shirts brand established by the Japanese Duo-Designers Noto-Fusai (デザイナーデュオ能登夫妻). Fusai, a Japanese word, means husband and wife. This couple explores alternative possibilities of T-shirt design, through the use of black print on a white surface. The designs on these T-shirts are from the everyday things around us, like water coming out of a faucet, the loose shoe lace you tie and untie, the snap button on the umbrella you fasten and unfasten...etc, very much everyday life. What seems far from art, design or fashion. But once it is played on the stage of a "white t-shirt" starring "black print", it leaps to art, design and fashion. The scenario is not difficult at all, but by incorporating the interactivity, one can easily enjoy the designers' intent, excitement and sense of fun.

{images from Shikisai}

I specially like these two: the window blind, and the messenger bag. But I am not so sure whether it's a good idea for ladies to put on this window blind T-shirt. Well, I guess you are better off just keeping your blind closed or at least half way down, even when it's a very nice sunny day!

August 5, 2009

Last Chance Antiques & Cheese

We visited Tannersville while we were in the Catskills. It's a cute little town, everything is colorful there. Many of the store fronts are being painted in bright colors that you would not normally see such as bright pinks, blues, and greens.

{Inside of Last Chance Antiques & Cheese}

We had our lunch at this also cute restaurant called Last Chance Antiques & Cheese. This casual spot is part restaurant, part antiques, gifts, and gourmet foods shop. It's decorated with hanging musical instruments and antiques, and it has a deli with a few tables and an enclosed patio dining area.

{Onion Soup}

{Chile Soup}

{French Dip}

The food? EXCELLENT!

August 3, 2009

Weekend at Cuomo's Cove

We spent a 3-day-weekend in the Catskills. This time, instead of staying with our friends, we stayed at this lovely Cuomo's Cove in Windham, NY.

{Private Deck}

{Out Door Jacuzzi}

{Majestic Catskill Mountain Views}

Our suite had 2 bedrooms & 2 bathrooms with a full kitchen complete with microwave and dishwasher. From the sliding glass doors in the living room we could step out onto our own private deck where we found our barbecue and private hot tub! I have to admit that it was a little bit tough to choose between relaxing indoors in front of the fireplace and sitting in the hot tub under the stars. We managed to do both! We brought back steaks and vegetables and grilled them while the sun was still out (aren't the long summer days wonderful). While we were waiting we enjoyed the view of the Catskills Mountains at sunset. Then we brought the food in and ate our dinner indoors in front of the fireplace. We loved the barbecue! Can't believe that just simply grilling the meat and vegetables can make them tasted so good!

After we digested our food, we went out to sit in the hot tub to enjoy the pitch black but quiet mountain view under a sky full of twinkling stars.