Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Please click on the link above and vote 5 stars for me.

The stamp design was developed from an art piece I did called Unprepared In Wellies.  I switched up a few of the words and made it fit the concept; keeping in mind the fact it needs to fit onto a small stamp, titled FORECAST HOPE.

This is for mental health awareness, Canada Post stamp competition, and the more votes I get the more awareness!!!  Please send this to anyone you know and tell them to click 5 stars for my stamp design.

As most of you know mental health awareness is very close to my heart and I hope to make a difference in any way possible.  

Thank you for your time and spread the awareness:)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Trip To Japan 2

I am back to talk about the second half of my trip to Japan.  After arriving in Tokyo from Kyoto and Hida Takayama as per last blog post I spent a few days in Tokyo and I was off again heading towards Koiwai Nojyo (farm) to spend two nights at the Ihatov Hananosato Pension (it is like an inn).  The color of changing leaves on the mountains were beautiful and completely worth traveling in the cold wet weather.  

A picture with the couple who owns the Ihatov Hananosato Pension (Inn).  Their quaint home is on the Koiwai Nojyo (farm) property, very warm, cozy and homely.  The garden outside looked beautiful full of organic self grown vegetables, fruit, wildflowers and trees.  They have a chicken coop from which they get all of their eggs, the milk products all come from the Koiwai Nojyo, they've got a little hut for ferrel cats that want sheltering from the cold, two very well behaved and old deaf dogs (one 15 the other 17), and a whole array of wildlife (owls, bears, etc.)
The couple were very kind and friendly, the food was AMAZING and more than enough!  It is also a wonderful place to stay if anyone wants to go skiing or snowboarding in the mountains 8 minutes away during the winter. 

Mr. Nozawa who was kind enough to take us around for the whole day to tour the farm, talk about sustainable environmentally friendly operations and importance of preserving supporting and promoting wilderness, taking us on a drive to many sights including the Aoyagi Samurai Manor Museum.  Then it started to pour like mad so eventually we made it back to the Inn.  He was ever so giving I can't thank him enough.

Off again on the train, then on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Shirakawa then onto the local Tazawako-sen train headed to Ofunato.
The long train ride to Ofunato was never ending but probably the best way to see the traditional life and scenery of Japan.  The train ride is irreplaceable, especially with the experience of local kids trying to speak in English and being totally curious.  Little things make these experiences memorable and that much better.

Then finally the ocean is visible through the mountains; oh my gosh my ears, I don't know how many tunnels we went through!  and then we arrived at Ofunato.  I got to the hotel quite exhausted from traveling all day and after going into the room I hear an extremely awful tone deaf karaoke singing guy down the hall; Hahaha, have to laugh, there was a large group party that night and they all went home no later than 12am, couldn't complain as they seemed to have had such a grand time.  

Up very early the next day to get a taste of the daily catch; although I do not eat raw foods, I like seeing all the different species of fish and ocean wildlife.  What an experience, completely overwhelmed with early sun light, clean air, smell of the ocean, and the sound of sea gulls; I can't ask for anything better!!!  Hahaha.  I just wish I could've worn my wellies, the ones I got in England! 

So many FISH, we eat so much fish it's not even funny!  Aww poor little fishies.  
Anyways, I decided to go eat breakfast where all the fishermen usually stop to fill their bellies and caffein levels... for some reason seeing all those fish I felt like having more of a western style breakfast with toast and tea the the like but due to misunderstanding and translation error I ended up with a very traditional Japanese breakfast; miso soup with a fish head poking out and staring back at me, two whole boiled plain squid, a plate of completely raw squid, katsu-don (a japanese dish with fried pork cutlet and onions in egg on top of rice), and the works.  I couldn't stop laughing inside and had a great time trying the fresh breakfast special.  I was full and although I still do not eat raw food to this day, it was delicious.   I mean how much more fresh can it get!?

This was like a day out of my kind of ideal day just pottering along the water looking at all the sea creatures and life just happening.  The schools of tiny little fish shawling in the inner harbor was fascinating!!!  I have never seen so many fish!  Then all of a sudden this larger fish comes out of the crevices of rock and chomps on one of the smaller fish, little flashes of scale glitter down to the ocean bottom; predation!!!  Okay, enough said, I will not bore you with my love and enthusiasm for wildlife.

I walked through the town and had a great day pottering around.  Later on I met up with those who live in Ofunato and went around seeing the sights.

Then I left to go back to Tokyo the next morning.
I couldn't have asked for a better time, I had so much fun and these memories will last forever!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trip to Japan

I was in Japan for three weeks and during that time I smashed in as much as I could do.  Tokyo was my home base where I stayed at the Keio Plaza Hotel; if anyone connected with them reads this, please get rid of the pay per 15 min. internet access as in this day and age I believe it should be free (especially what I was paying for the room).  

Anyways from there I left to go to Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawa, Hida Takayama, and onsen (hot springs) for four days.  Traveling on the shinkansen (bullet train) was so fast and convenient they should have that everywhere.  Since having been to Kyoto before I tried to go to all the shrines and temples and historical places I haven't visited.  I have never seen such deep gorgeous shades of green!  Nature is in huge abundance outside of Tokyo, but even then Japanese culture places huge emphasis on natural on goings and aesthetics.  Water flows out of natural springs and sounds beautiful and soothing against a backdrop of green moss and wise trees.

Irasshaimase~ to my blog:)  hehe.

My parents and me in Kyoto

I am obsessed with the Ojizo-sama, and me trying to be one...

This is in Shirakawa

The taxi driver was a nice guy and he took us around the entire day.  I was freezing my butt off even with two hokaron (heated pocket warmer thinggies), and one big one that stuck onto your clothes or wherever you decide to put it... I should've been a giant heat radiating hot potato but nope I was cold.  The mountains were snow capped.

I saw many carp on this trip and each one has its own funny personality.  These were taken in Kyoto.

The onsen (hot spring) was so relaxing; I even scheduled a 60 min. massage; aaaaaahhhh, the tension I always carry in my neck and upper back were relieved for that night and next day, BREATHE~  The big baths are always a welcome especially as it was freezing and rainy in Hida Takayama.  There was a whole array of shampoos, conditioners, body soaps and face soaps to choose from; one smelled of sake, another said something about either it being used on horses or maybe it was horse oil... that sounds scary, but something to do with horses and their goodness for our hair...  and the hot springs water is so gentle and good for your skin, especially good if you have sensitive  and highly reactive irritable skin like mine.  It made my skin silky smooth.  And I always enjoy my time in yukata (casual kimono that the hot springs hotel/inn/resort offers) sitting enjoying a cup of green tea on the tatami floors, the smell of shoji doors, and all the goodness of traditional Japan.  
Somehow being relaxed and so comfortable with such excellent food (THE FOOD IN JAPAN IS EXCELLENT BY THE WAY) and a lot of it always makes me get up to silly and naughty things; yes, I am not all serious Marie all the time, I am quite the goof if you get to know me well enough.

Don't even ask...

An English man in full Yukata mode; hi-ya!

View from the onsen suite.  

I can completely relate to the traditional Japanese aesthetic, well, obviously I am Japanese, but you get my drift; I LOVE IT!

Then I came back to Tokyo checked back in to the Keio Plaza Hotel met friends and relatives, went on Yukata Bune one night with my uncle Ryu-chan and his family, this is Rino his daughter and me in the picture:)

Oi, Rino, genki kai?  Tanoshikatta neeeee~ hehehe.

Oh my gosh, this is going to be so long if I keep on going... so next post will be the next latter half of my trip, where I took the shinkansen (bullet train) again out of Tokyo to Koiwai Nojyo (farm), the Ihatov Hanano-sato pension/inn, Morioka, and to Ofunato.  More photos to come, I hope you enjoy, and if you have any questions feel free to contact me!  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Audio Technica Ear Phones

Today I decided to start working on a piece I stopped working on a while back and so here I was glueing away the slivers of beautiful hand made Thai paper, listening to great music on my new Audio Technica earphones I bought in Tokyo, getting into the groove of things or so I thought... Glue usually gets everywhere so when I had this little smudge on my sleeve I was not fussed (although I looked for where it was coming from I could not find the source), I kept going with glueing, another sticky smudge, !!! grrrrr !!!, where the F*** is it coming from!?, oh well, next squeeeeze; gloop-di-daaaa!!!!!!!!  All down my hand, arm, on my sleeves, on the new ear phone cable STICKY MESS!!!!!!!  Great, just great.  Even so I don't give a rats ass until I am finished pasting all the pieces in place; then when things have started drying a little I go washing up the mess, everywhere, peeling and balling pieces of freakin' glue.  

So do you ever get your new gadgets mucked up in whatever you are doing?  I am not surprised; this is so typically me.  But hey, my new ear phones are still like new; the glue cleaned up fine.

I woke up at 4am this morning, jet lag, oh but life keeps going:)

Smile, GRIN.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back in Toronto

I just arrived from Tokyo two days ago, am trying to sort out everything from the trip, and getting over jet lag.  I was in L.A. for a week then went to Japan for three weeks; so much went on while I was there and had such a wonderful time.  I will upload photos and update as soon as possible.  There are many things to do and share!  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Restless night with hot milk

Today I was able to take some photos of what I have been doing recently on the art front.  So they are as follows:

So recently I have been into the whole darks with gold look, especially navy...hmmm

Actual color much deeper more like below but hardly.

This is just something fun; I had sunflowers on my mind.  

So, I am still in the middle of these pieces, as well as others, but I feel drained lately and the colors and images are not coming to me as I would like so I am letting things BE.  It will come to me.  

I am also quite busy getting ready to go visit L.A. for a little 7 day stop, and then on wards to Tokyo for my Grandmother's first year memorial, as well as taking some much deserved time off with family for three weeks (while in Japan I'll be in Tokyo mainly but will be going to Kyoto, the hot springs somewhere in the mountains, Karuizawa, etc.).  This is the first time my boyfriend will be visiting Japan so it will be interesting to see how he thinks and feels about the culture.  Everything will come back to me once I'm there.  

Poor Clover, she'll be with a dog sitter for a month!  She is my little bundle of dark brindled Cairn Terrier cheer. 

Strangely enough right before the trip I have not been feeling to hot... far from it!  Uggh, I don't know what where when how why, this is the freakin worst time for this, and at 28, "why now god why now?"; acne on my face, more like crack-ne as its as if my acne is on crack!!!  What the #$%*???!!!  This is so frustrating and doesn't help my depression or anxiety what so ever.  GRRRRRR!!!  Great first impressions going to LA, huh!?  blah.  I wanted to enjoy the pool at my parent's condo but I guess not..... I feel out of control and I HATE that (although nothing is really under anyones control, ya know...but I'm just sayin).  

So no wonder I am not sleeping well; I've got lots in my head and heart.  Many things lurk in those deep dark waters of my soul; self awareness, being prepared, being (trying) grounded, deal with what comes, gain solutions and go with the flow.

I really should go to sleep.  Goodnight.