Hello 2021 !

· Art, Illustration

The year 2020 has just ended… and what a year! Whether from an emotional or physical point of view, it’s been the most unusual and unsettling.

From this strange year, I mainly measure my luck to have been able to preserve my and my family’s health. For the rest, I am rather happy to have been able to adapt to changing and sometimes uncomfortable situations. Even sacrificing a little of my freedom and human interactions, I cannot decently complain about this year 2020. I hope that if it was more difficult for you, you will find the strength to get back on your feet…

 

A SWEETER 2021…

Anyway, here we are with 2020 behind us and at the beginning of this first page of 2021 : it is more difficult for me to formulate wishes given the year that has just passed and not knowing what will be the most appropriate for the coming one…

Anyway, I would like to wish you a warmer, sweeter and easier 2021. The health-love-happiness package is even more actual and I hope that 2021 will be synonymous with freedom and well-being for you and your loved ones.

 

2 CARDS AT YOUR CHOICE

Now a tradition on this blog, every year I draw a greeting card in order to send you my greetings by mail. This year, it’s not one but two that I drew! (2020 will have had the merit of inspiring me!)

I wanted to symbolize what we all probably missed: escape and travel! I don’t know if 2021 will allow us to go around as we wish but I hope that this map will bring us luck!

Thus, I chose to draw the 2 destinations that I miss the most right now and that I would like to see again in real life as soon as possible: Japan and Great Britain. So I wanted to immortalize a fantasized winter scene of Tokyo and London under the snow: Yakitori restaurant or English tea room? Between the two my heart hesitates!

 

A GREETING CARD DEDICATED TO YOU

Here is the time for you to participate in the small traditional greeting card contest that I do every year. To try to receive a greeting card autographed by me it will be necessary to :

  • leave me a comment below
  • tell me which destination you choose (London or Tokyo) and the thing you hope for most for 2021!
  • all this before January Tuesday 5th at midnight (Paris time)

I will choose 20 people to send my greetings to! This greeting card is the modest gift I can offer you to thank you for being so faithful for more than 13 years! The years follow one another, do not look the same but you are still with me <3 THANK YOU! (English translation by Quiterie)

 

EDIT : Thanks for your sweet comments and wishes below this post. Here are the people who will receive a greeting card by mail : thanks again for entering my traditional contest and happy new year !

 

Marc Sainlot : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 11h45
Julie A : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 12h19
Perrine : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 12h25
Samantha : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 12h35
Clement : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 12h58
Jones Coralie : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 13h15
Celiane : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 13h37
Lauriane : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 13h39
Emma : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 14h04
Gaëlle : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 14h10
Morrisset : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 15h15
Julie : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 15h30
Nadine : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 15h53
Alexandra : Commentaire du 1er janvier à 23h47
Marion : Commentaire du 2 janvier à 0h11
Aurélise : Commentaire du 2 janvier à 16h48
Nadège : Commentaire du 4 janvier à 0h30
Léonor : Commentaire du 4 janvier à 12h55
Pauline Montauze : Commentaire du 4 janvier à 23h29
Sarah : Commentaire du 5 janvier à 23h43

 

Illustration ©Tokyobanhbao, all rights reserved

Five senses #18

· Decoration, Fashion, Food

Back for a new “Five senses” article but Christmas edition! This year, Christmas will be a little bit special but we must not forget to please our 5 senses… So here are a few inspiring ideas that I hope you will enjoy and help you to live a Christmas period as magical as usual!

 

SIGHT

Vermont White Spruce Tree Balsam Hill

 

I installed my tree on November 15th, too early? Maybe, but since this year has forced us more than ever to stay home, we might as well enjoy ourselves… especially since I have the impression that we’ve been talking about Christmas since the end of September!

Anyway, mid-November, I was delighted to find my artificial tree (in which I invested last year) and the decorations that adorn it.

Nutcrackers Christian Ulbricht
Tree star Ferm Living
Heartshaped golden ornaments IKEA

 

No big change since the absence of travel and wandering in the stores pushes me to be fine with what I already have in terms of Christmas decorations. Only one novelty: these few golden heart-shaped balls ordered online, which allow me to temper a little bit the red/British dominance of my tree.

 

SMELL

Does a fake Christmas tree mean no smell of tree ? Not really… because I compensate with candles with woody scents to keep this natural spirit.

This year, I have the pleasure to collaborate with the French perfumer Estéban to discover the “Noël nature 2020” collection and this last one is not totally unknown to me since last year already, I used their candle “Sapin exquis” to accompany this festive period (I had received it in a box of our personalized advent calendar!).

 

The perfume of this “Exquisite fir” is “an ode to the magic of Christmas, to the warm and gourmet moments spent around the tree”… quite a program!

It is difficult to write you down the scent that is currently embalming my apartment but I would say that this description is quite faithful to what you can imagine: Woody, ambery scents with a little greedy note, sweet but not too much.

This exquisite fir exists in the form of a candle, an indoor spray and a fragrant bouquet. I love the discreet, elegant and golden/woodsy presentation of the whole… matching my Christmas decorations! The wooden fir tree shaped bouquet is a good way to keep the fragrance going all day long without having to light a candle and adds a warm decorative touch.

Fragrant bouquet, indoor spray, candle “Exquisite fir”
and candle “Blackcurrant cherry” Estéban Paris Parfums

 

This year, I discovered the other scent of this “Natural Christmas” collection: “Blackcurrant cherry”. Here, we move away a little from the tree and we totally abandon ourselves to the greediness of blackcurrant and cherry coated with almond notes. I am seduced.

And also totally seduced by the eco-responsible commitment of the brand. Indeed, Estéban manufactures its scented products in the south of France, with carefully chosen components (100% vegetable wax, pure cotton wick, phthalate-free vegetable alcohol) and recyclable packaging. In addition, the majority of their products are refillable (perfume stems, bouquet refill, candle refill).

This year, the brand also made a commitment to donate 1% of revenue from the Exquisite fir and Blackcurrant cherry collections to associations that protect the environment. Nice approach, isn’t it?

 

TASTE

Xmas tableware Villeroy & Boch
Cakestand Absolument maison (already seen here)
Bredele “moelleux” biscuits Maison Alsacienne de Biscuiterie

 

Christmas is not only a joy for the eyes or the nose but also for the taste buds! Last year, I brought back some delicious bredele from Colmar and since this year we can’t travel far, I ordered some online at the same place: the Maison Alsacienne de Biscuiterie. I could also make some myself, you would say to me, but I am not sure I could make such a large variety and especially not sure to make such good ones!

So I have chosen a packet of moelleux (almond-based) but I will certainly place a larger order with shortbread or other Alsatian specialties to accompany the month of December.

Xmas tea Compagnie coloniale (Merci Lionelou <3)
Black and green Christmas tea Dammann Frères (Merci Jérémy <3)
Thé nouveau (green tea) Mariage Frères

 

Besides that, Christmas also means Panettone, shortbread cookies, clementines and other sweets… that it is nice to accompany with a little tea!

Here are the Christmas teas I have in my cupboard at the moment. I’m also looking to stock up on Christmas herbal teas to vary the pleasures, so if you have any references to recommend, let me know!

 

HEARING

Advent calendar made by myself last year

 

Christmas is back with its playlist of course! Every year, I take pleasure in listening to and adding to the Christmas playlist that I’ve been making on Deezer for a few years now.

It includes a mix of classics and pop sweets to spend a Christmas season in rhythm: Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, the Jonas Brothers, Backstreet boys or Tom Chaplin alongside Franck Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald or Elvis Presley. I hope you’ll find it useful to accompany your cookie baking or your “gift-wrapping” sessions!

 

TOUCH

Sweaters Close (already seen here)
Cashmere sweater La Redoute collections (already seen here)
Ballerinas Carel (already seen here)

 

December and the Christmas season mean for me the return of warm and soft sweaters! Still no novelty around here but a tribute to my most comfortable and durable sweaters!

I’m happy to find my little collection of cashmere sweaters that I’ve had in my wardrobe since 2015 and that are almost as good as new, even after several machine washes (wool cycle of course)!

This red sweater is also one of the best quality investments I could make: from 2017 and not a single pilling on the horizon. The cream-colored one is doing very well too. All this to tell you that when you try to privilege quality, it still remains after several years! (English translation by Quiterie)

 

Article written as part of a paid collaboration with Estéban Paris Parfums
This article also contains an affiliate link

Slow life in Otoyo

· Food, Illustration, Travel

As I told you last time, it’s time to slow down the pace since the programme of today fully illustrates what the “slow life” or sweetness of life is… Japanese version!

During or japanese road-trip, we left Matsuyama toward the prefecture of Kōchi and the district of Nagafuchi in the small town of Ōtoyo. The idea was to cut the road between Matsuyama and Takamatsu and what a wonderful step it was!

 

Small detour by Imabari

Before our arrival, I’ll let you admire some pictures taken on the way to Ōtoyo. At the beginning, we thought we would spend several days riding around Shimanami Kaido by bike (=a bike path that connects the town of Imabari to Onomichi, near Hiroshima).

But laziness makes things well, change of program! Instead, we were going to discover this hundred-year-old house in which we spent a night and which finally turned out to be one of my best memories of this road-trip.

 

However, we still made the detour to admire the bridge over the Seto Sea. If you have more time (and motivation than us) the crossing by bike can be planned in 1 or 2 days (depending on your physical performance) and it seems that the islands, villages and fishing ports crossed on the way are worth a look.

 

The guest house in the mountains

After this panoramic stop, we took the road again towards our lodging Oyamanoyado Michitsuji for the night, which was located at the end not far from the Oboke gorges that I showed you previously.

Once again, I would like to thank my SO who is at the origin of this find lost in the mountains… so lost that we had a lot of trouble finding the house, even with the GPS. But a call to the owners and with a nice neighbor coming to meet us, we finally arrived safely.

 

Welcomed by the smiles of Yumiko and her husband Daisuke, we immediately felt that we were going to have a good time.

The time to leave our things on the big tatami in the room, Daisuke showed us the house, which is more than 100 years old, decorated in a very simple and minimalist way but in which reigns a cosy atmosphere.

 

The view of the gorge is probably the main reason for this, not to mention the quietness of the place, but it is also disturbed by a (very) early morning crowing of the rooster.

 

The couple, who’d lived a few years ago in Tokyo, wanted to escape the stress of the city to reconnect with nature in order to raise their two boys in the most serene conditions possible.

Upon our arrival, the two boys, who soon returned from school, frolicked in the garden and settled down to do their homework on the living room table, not at all disturbed by the noise of our discussions.

Daisuke showed us the bathroom and toilets located in a small hut outside the main building. I have to admit that I begged my bladder not to get up at night (I already imagined myself stumbling on the small, dimly lit, gravel path half asleep) and my prayers were fortunately heard.

 

We also visited the surrounding fields: rice and tea cultivated in these heights. Everything that is consumed by the inhabitants is produced nearby: it could not be more local!

 

Yumiko invited us into her kitchen when she was preparing dinner. On the menu, tonkatsu breaded pork (pork from the neighboring farm) accompanied by rice, soup (Pink potato soup if my memories are good) and vegetables and herbs from the garden. Her husband was in charge of watching the rice cooking in a pot.

 

Watching Yumiko delicately carve vegetables and lemon, we talked and exchanged about our very different daily life, to the sound of the pork frying and the carrots and corn frying in the pan. As Yumiko speaks very good English, we didn’t have to use our hands or google translate.

 

It was then time to go to the dining table, sitting on the tatami. Itadakimasu! I still remember the crispy melting of the tonkatsu as well as the crunch of the vegetables, with that nice little fresh air that came to tickle us through the sliding door, as the sun was starting to decline outside.

 

We continued to talk about everything and nothing: kintsugi classes that Yumiko regularly practices (the art of repairing broken dishes with delicate dripping gold threads), their life in the countryside, Instagram…

Yumiko regularly posts selected pieces of her daily life on her account, which I find very pleasant to follow, since we can see the seasons just by looking at her photos of fruits and vegetables and the dishes she likes to prepare.

 

After enjoying a caramel flan (always homemade), it was time to take our futons to spend a sweet night. In the morning, the rooster committed to cancel any plans to sleep late, gave us a nice vocal demonstration, but it was not so bad since we had to get back on the road.

 

 

Before leaving, a salty breakfast with grilled salmon, miso soup and small vegetables, always so delicious!

 

A few souvenir pictures together, it was then the moment to say goodbye by warmly thanking Yumiko and Daisuke for their hospitality and for this so comforting evening.

 

The stage of the day was a little less touristy and stirring than in my previous tickets but staying in this guest house remains one of our most beautiful travel memories by the simplicity and sympathy that came out of it.

We continue to keep in touch and to follow each other via instagram and coincidence, we even met the next day in Naoshima since the whole family had decided to spend a few days in Takamatsu as well. See you then at the next step of the road-trip: Direction Takamatsu and Naoshima Island! (English translation by Quiterie)

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