Tried

You can travel Japan with bath salts!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: this girl’s crazy. But I’m not talking bath salts in a drug-induced, face-eating way. I’m talking about bath salts used the way they’re supposed to be used: in a bath!

You see, I came across a series of bath salts called “Tabi no Yado” at the drug store the other day that I decided to give a try. The theme of the series is to feel like you’re taking a journey to several hot springs in Japan by trying out the 13 included sachets of salt in your own bathtub. This, to me, sounded awesome. After all, I was never super huge on visiting hot springs or public baths in Japan (though Chad is practically obsessed). Whereas at the public bath I often feel self-conscious at generally being the only foreigner (and at the custom of being completely naked, no less), at home I can just relax and enjoy myself (and also listen to a podcast!).

IMG_1978There are four different packs in the Tabi no Yado series, and I chose the one pictured above. I primarily chose it because I thought the picture was cool, but it also said “shittori,” which means moisturizing, so I thought that sounded nice as well.

So far I’ve only tried the yuwaza packet, meant to imitate yuwaza hot springs in Niigata (packet pictured below), which was a “milky” type bath salt that smelled subtly of cherry blossoms. While some of the other salts included in the box should produce vibrant colors, this packet just made the water cloudy in a rather dreamy, relaxing way. The scent wasn’t too overwhelming, and I felt so nice during and after! I had to ask myself why I don’t take the time to relax in a bath more often!IMG_1979I know that I’ll definitely continue to “travel” around Japan with my Tabi no Yado bath salts, and that I’ll be trying other types in the future, too. What are your favorite ways to treat yourself at home in a spa-like fashion?

xx Caitlyn

P.S. For an at-home, easy-to-make bath scrub, check out Ariel’s Coconut Sea Salt Body Scrub post here !

Food & Cooking · Party

Wine and Cheese Night

Next weekend, Chad and I will be moving to a more long-term apartment, and we are super excited! We’ve been talking about how nice it will be to set up a routine in our new neighborhood, to explore together, and to start having friends over. One thing we’ve been talking excitedly about is hosting another wine and cheese party, which got me to thinking I should share pictures from our last one! Now, in advance, I must apologize for the blurry photos, but to my credit, we WERE leaving for Japan in only a few days, and we were also drinking delicious wine!

IMG_1743Throwing a wine and cheese night is a really fun way to get friends together, try delicious wine and cheese, and still keep the cost relatively low for the evening. We asked each guest to bring a bottle of wine and/or cheese, and we provided fruit, chocolate, crackers, bread, summer sausage and olive oil. We also contributed a bottle of Pinot Noir and some Aged Havarti.

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As you probably know, although I like drinking wine well enough, beer is more my forte. I barely know anything about pairings for wine, etc., I just know that I like dry reds (and that unfortunately dry reds tend to make me break out! *cries*). This was a fun way for me to expand my horizons!IMG_1748

Havarti is probably my favorite cheese, though raclette comes as a close second!

IMG_1749 IMG_1752 IMG_1761 IMG_1767 IMG_1772As the evening progressed, so did a couple selfies…

IMG_1784 IMG_1793…and apparently Chad thought it was necessary to balance wine glasses on Ariel’s head…IMG_1912It was really nice so many people were able to make it out–not only for enjoying the wine and cheese, but so that we could say goodbye before leaving (and give away some of our kitchen foodstuffs we were going to be parting with!).IMG_1913
Before the next party, I’m going to research the pairing we choose a little more so I can try and sound really impressive and snobby πŸ˜‰

What’s your favorite wine and/or pairing?
xx Caitlyn

P.S. Take a look at some of the other parties we had over the last year in the links below!

A Raclette Party (via Amanda) – you KNOW you want to know what a raclette party is!
A Ramen Party – click to learn how to make amazing pot stickers with your friends!
A Hobo Stew Party – sort of like potluck stew πŸ˜‰
An Oktoberfest Party – amazing food & beer, and fun dessert!
A Parisian-Themed Baby Shower – so beautiful and sweet! You’ll love looking at the food and decor!

Around Town

Around Town: Paul (a bakery)

IMG_1904Last weekend Chad and I stumbled across a bakery/cafe called Paul in Shinjuku, and from the amazing smell permeating the air alone, I knew I would have to visit soon. Fortunately, “soon” came this afternoon. We were trying to decide where to go for a walk, and I asked, “How about we walk to that bakery with that giant heart thing?”

IMG_1902IMG_1948These sandwiches looked just like the ones we had in France…

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IMG_1950The massive heart “thing” (a palmier) I had my eyes on last weekend can be seen above on the bottom shelf!Β  IMG_1951 IMG_1953Drooling yet?

IMG_1954IMG_1963I loved the look of this bakery, both outside and in. Gorgeous glass windows showcased bread and a few pastries to view from outside, and the glass cases inside tempted us with everything else. Additionally, the ceiling was made of really pretty wood, there were simple prints throughout the bakery, and very subtle splashes of soft color.

IMG_1956After arriving home for the day, I researched a little bit about Paul and found out that it is a chain that started in France. The corporate history is kind of neat, and there’s other information on the international site if you’re interested, too.IMG_1957Chad and I decided to split a raspberry frangipane tartlet, and it was quite lovely.

IMG_1958 IMG_1960 IMG_1961The balance of the almond crust with the creamy cheesecake-like filling and the juiciness of the raspberries made for a delightful afternoon dessert.Β  IMG_1964We decided to get the chocolate covered palmier to go for tea time later. Apparently, palmiers are made with puff pastry in a similar way to croissants, but without yeast. You know how much I love a good croissant, but I also really appreciate the light, flaky, crunchy texture of a good palmier. And now, rather than referring to them as heart-things, I will remember the actual pastry name!

Have you tried any new cafes lately?
xxCaitlyn

Seen/Heard/Tried

Every day in January

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions because, well, I make resolutions all the time. That being said, I sort of unintentionally started some daily tasks with the beginning of the New Year that have turned into resolutions, and I have really been enjoying myself!

IMG_19351. Daily Art Journaling– You may remember that on my last Autumn Bucket List, one of my goals was to get back into art journaling. When we moved back to Japan, I thought it might be really hard to get started again without most of my supplies from back home, but I started using the book No Excuses Art Journaling by Gina Rossi Armfield, and it’s been really easy to do a little every day!

IMG_1933The concept is really cool: you basically use a planner for an art journal and spend about 10 minutes (or more or less depending on what you want!) on an entry a day that includes the color of the day, the weather of the day, the image of the day, and the word of the day. Then you do a more detailed “peek card” each week, as well as a more involved monthly page. I love it so far because it’s been helping me record things in a fun way while practicing some basic illustration and/or watercolor work.

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2. Yoga Practice– I have been doing yoga almost every day since we arrived in Japan. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s more challenging, but either way, it feels pretty nice to incorporate into my daily routine. I have been enjoying alternating between Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge, Erin Motz’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge (recommended by Ariel!), and Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown.

IMG_1925Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

3. Walking EVERYWHERE! – We have been walking for an average of one to two hours a day, with the very least amount of time being about twenty minutes. I love that you naturally walk more in Japan–even just to get from the station to work if you’re commuting by train. Today we went to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. It was really relaxing, and will be so beautiful come spring!IMG_1928IMG_1929This is called the Full Moon Bridge because the reflection in the water
looks like a moon. Something about that seems romantic to me
❀

I have been having a great time adding these things to my daily life, especially because they’re all very reasonable habits to incorporate that all make me feel happy. Do you make resolutions each New Year? What are some things you do on a daily basis for yourself?

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Take care friends! xx Caitlyn

Reviews · Tried

Flavor Fun: Starbucks Chocolate Orange Mocha

starbucks advert I couldn’t help but try the Chocolate Orange Mocha when I stumbled across it in Japan. As far as I know, this flavor isn’t offered in the states–at the very least not in Michigan, so I decided to share about the beverage here πŸ™‚IMG_1905

I got a tall size of the hot version of the Chocolate Orange Mocha, and it wasn’t too bad. A barista told me that they use mocha, orange syrup, espresso, steamed milk, orange-infused whipped cream, mocha again on top, and orange sprinkles. One of my former coworkers (here’s looking at you, Dona!) would kill me for saying this, but the orange sprinkles SERIOUSLY tasted like Fruity Pebbles cereal. I’ve got Chad to back me up on that. IMG_1907To be honest, the whole Fruity Pebble flavor going on with those sprinkles didn’t really do much for me, though otherwise the beverage tasted like a lightly sweetened hot chocolate with the slightest hint of orange. It almost felt like less pumps of mocha than standard were used, though I never put full pumps in my beverages anyway.

I’d have to say the beverage, for me, was sort of take it or leave it, but I definitely will be visiting the same Starbucks location again. After all, I got to meet a Japanese coffee master there, and the partners were all really friendly.

Have you tried any fun beverages lately?
xx Caitlyn

Travel

Comforts After Moving Far from Home

The first morning we woke up in our temporary apartment in Tokyo, there were some things that really made me feel happy despite being so far from home. These things continue to help me feel comforted, even when I get super homesick!COMFORTS

1. Trinkets I brought along give me a lot of comfort. For Christmas, my mom made me a charm bracelet that had a little coffee charm, an “I love my cat” charm, and more. That, along with some other precious gifts, makes me feel special from miles away.

2. Chad gave me a calendar for Christmas that has pictures of our kitties for each month. My friend Timothy took the pictures, and although I get really sad because I miss my kitties so much, I am really glad I can look at sweet photos of them all year long.

3. My French Press has been AMAZING since we’ve moved here. That first morning in Tokyo, I felt completely comforted by the smell of high-quality coffee poured into my cup, fresh from the press.

4. When we lived in Japan the last time around, I remember not wanting to hang up too many pictures or anything because I figured our living situation wasn’t permanent. I don’t know what the heck was wrong with me–having pictures all over our apartment makes me feel tons of love. This time around we’ve got plenty of pictures up around our apartment.

5. I know this may sound silly, but I am so happy to have Starbucks no matter where I go! I really found my third place when I was working for Starbucks (even though it was also my second place…!).

6. I love catching little glimpses of Michigan goods around our apartment. I have a sweet little pillow made for us by a friend, as well as the travel pillow pictured above, to list a couple items.

Other things that have made me feel at home right away? Books and crafty supplies, though I had to be quite picky about what I brought due to luggage constraints. We also brought quite a bit of–you guessed it!–coffee and chocolate.

What are some things that make you feel comforted or “at home” no matter where you are?

xx Caitlyn

Travel

From Michigan to Japan

Hi everyone! We’re starting to settle in as we start the New Year, though I’ll be honest: yesterday we fell asleep at about 3:30 PM and…um…slept until about 5:00 AM this morning. Oh jet-lag, you sneaky, sneaky disposition. We’ve been spending our time exploring the area we’ve been placed for the time being on foot, so nice big bowls of ramen for lunch and Asahi beer at night have been nice rewards. In case you’re interested, I’ve succumbed to my usual geekery and made an infographic about our transportation journey to Tokyo. Be sure to let me know if you’ve ever had a similar journey, or if you have any questions in the comments below.

Michigan to JapanNote: I don’t know why the arrows got all wonky, but I don’t have the patience to figure it out at the moment. Thank you for letting it go πŸ˜‰

Sending love!
xx Caitlyn