Monday, September 29, 2014

The Challenge

It's cool enough now in the mornings to just leave the AC off, open up the windows, and enjoy the breeze.  I can hear the ocean outside my window as I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee watching two white butterflies flutter around outside my window.  They linger outside in front of an ocean backdrop until about nine in the morning, as if they were hired by Japan to make my mornings seem magical.

Yeah--it's THAT ridiculous.

There is not a day that goes by when I don't feel lucky to have the opportunity of living here.  I sit on the porch and watch the sun set into the water and drool every single time.  It's not that I'm trying to rub it in, it's just that I'm still THAT appreciative of it.  (and I want all of my friends to come visit)

In the midst of all this "magic" I have managed to get into some sort of routine and start what most people call, "a normal life".

I drink my coffee, go to the gym, study Japanese, do my online courses, work on design projects and then hang out with Robb in the evenings.

We're exploring new activities all the time, for example, the wood shop in which we are not making furniture for our house.  Threw some seeds on the ground the other day and they started growing within 24hrs so we are going to start (an organized) vegetable garden as soon as we can.  We also started going to salsa lessons--in Japanese--which make it even more of a challenge since we first have to decipher what the instructor is saying before we can attempt to do it with our bodies!

Wood workshop

This photo was added to make you throw up.  TEAM HANSEN!

Robb using a Japanese hand saw

The newest project I'm working on is based on a pact that Robb and I made recently.  More than a pact, it's a challenge:  Go for one year without buying manufactured clothing.  I've decided to start making all of my clothes--and Robb's, too.  **

This challenge is meant to make me exercise my pattern making and sewing skills and provide us with one of a kind apparel.  I think it's also a good way to keep from buying random clothes when I truly don't need them, and to appreciate the value of the production process--how long and how much effort it really takes to dress someone from scratch.  We tend to forget in an age of inexpensive ready-to-wear-easily-available clothes how much time sewing requires and take mass production of t-shirts and jeans for granted (and probably paying much less than we should for them half the time, and then overpaying just for a label the other half ).  I want to pull away from that mentality of wanting more and start taking a look at what we actually need.  We've been applying this overall when it comes to purchasing food or things for the house.  It's refreshing keeping things simple and having an uncluttered living space that's easy to pack up and move.  No extra crap we don't need--it's the new motto.

It sounds like a difficult challenge, but then again, I moved out here almost three months ago with two suitcases and have managed to live just fine with what I have, with the exception of needing a button up shirt for a job interview last week, which I forgot to bring with me and therefore was forced to buy one at the last minute from the Exchange on base.  HUGE mistake.  That place has the worst selection of clothes I have ever seen in a store.  It's all either very high-end expensive brands OR what I call "old people clothes".

Luckily I don't live in Tokyo where I usually want to buy EVERYTHING (that I really don't need) at the fashion district--so, I think living in Okinawa and avoiding shopping malls which I naturally do anyhow, will keep me in line with the challenge.  Plus, I have a Pinterest board ready and full of ideas of clothes I have been wanting to make!

As for Robb....I am new to menswear BUT I definitely learned all about it in school, and I plan on making him some pretty bad ass stuff.


**NOTE: This does not include undergarments or socks-- I have no idea how to make these, and if I really need underwear on a whim I don't think I could quickly make a  pair!  I've also decided that if we need a very specialized item, such as a wet suit, we can also make exceptions.

My attempt to make government furniture a little livelier...

From our weekend bike ride, quick stop at Zanpa!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Yeah, I know, it's been a while...

It's been "hurry up and wait"for months now, and that's exactly how it felt when we got our house.  Three weeks we waited, and then suddenly we were rushing in here with government furniture, my suitcases and Robb's suits and surf boards and suddenly buying plates and cups and silverware and curtains and odds and ends and rearranging and cleaning and and and-- FINALLY some R&R in our beautiful little beach house : )

Part of our living room-- you can see our tatami room in the back

No joke, we are both from AZ and these are the tiles in our Japanese home--what are the odds?!

We LOVE this house, it's a perfect size for us and it's right in front of the beach--we couldn't ask for more!  Oh wait, that's right, our awesome friends live a few houses down so we just meet up at the beach and paddle out until we can't see land in front of us and watch the sunset together.  Yeah, it's that ridiculously happy here.

View from our front porch at sunset

R&R on the deck

Fixing up a bike on the deck

Last week started off with a bang with my first official Japanese lesson! I'm finally getting help because, let me tell you, learning Japanese on my own is not an easy task.  Getting through the alphabets was one thing, but after that I seemed to hit a wall when I realized how much I had to learn to become fluent and I kind of froze up with anxiety and made the effort to find a teacher.

I signed up at Kumon, which is usually a math and science tutoring center, but here in Japan they also offer Japanese as a foreign language.  It's a genius program, I think, because it lets you work on your own inside of the classroom so it's essentially work at your own pace and ask questions when necessary.  After every unit the teacher comes up to you and makes sure you understand the material, does a mini "test"so she knows if you're ready to move on.

The hilarious part about all of this is that because it's a tutoring center, I am sitting in this small classroom surrounded by 20 tiny Japanese children running around with papers, pencils and backpacks and always staring at me--the giant blonde girl towering over them--repeating basic Japanese words and slowly starting to read and write.

One little boy was trying to practice his English with me, and I asked him if he liked baseball and he started jumping up and down with excitement when I mentioned his favorite sport, SO... I'm pretty sure he's now my boyfriend.

My studio is slowly coming together.  It has an amazing view and I made my first dress for a good friend back home.  Can't wait to see how Japan influences my designs...

I  leave you with this little gem:  T-shirt from American Village
Retail price 700 Yen,  Life Advice: Priceless.