Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Week's Yoga Practice [50 Minutes]

After starting a new job, going on vacation, and adjusting to new life schedules, I have recommitted myself to taking care of my health via my diet and my exercise. Sitting at a desk is no fun all day - and it just makes it more and more important that I take the time to do what is the best. This week I've been doing this sequence of yoga videos by Sarah Beth.

As you may notice, most of the videos are very helpful for back pain caused by sitting at a computer all day. I also have minor scoliosis, so the neck and shoulder stretches are lifesavers.

(Note: in all of them I skip the final savasana until the last video.)

Yoga for Flexibility 




Yoga to Lengthen & Strengthen the Lower Body 



Yoga for Upper Back Tension 




Yoga for Neck & Shoulder Tension




Bedtime Yoga Practice 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What I Wore to Lady Gaga's artRave



Last Tuesday I got to go see Lady Gaga for the third time! I will be the first to admit that Artpop was not the most amazing album, buuuuut I know for a fact that Gaga puts on one of the most fun shows I've been to AND I love spending time with my baby sister. Ellen and I have gone to the last three Gaga concerts together and it's the best every time. Last time we went (and Anika was with!!) was right in the middle of February, but this time was deliciously warm.

My vision for this outfit was definitely a sexy-not-scary mime/bat. I found the bat ear headband that I got from Forever 21's Bats & Cats collection right before I headed out the door and they definitely were the icing on top of my outfit cake. What do you think?



Darling grown-up Ellen and me before the concert. Before I sweated off my drawn-on freckles! (Worth it.) The show itself was a blast - even if I don't love listening to the album on it's own yet, they were all pretty fun to dance to. (I do love GUY, Gypsy, and Do What U Want.) Favorite parts of the show - SWINE, definitely. Also loved Telephone, of course. The show was a liiiittle Artpop heavy, but whatever. The only song she played off of Born This Way was the title track, so that was kind of a bummer. No Judas?! Here is a video from her concert in PA when she was wearing my favorite costume of the night.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Haul Post: Craft Supplies from Okadaya and Tokyo Hands in Shinjuku, Tokyo

One of my main goals this last trip to Japan was to buy as much cute crafty stuff I could get my hands on. I think I did alright. The two main places I bought stationary and yarncraft items were both in Shinjuku: Okadaya and Tokyu Hands in the Takashimaya Times Square mall.

photo from BlackCabbit.wordpress.com
 
Okadaya

Finding Okadaya is pretty simple. This site here has great pictures and directions. Exit the Shinjuku Station from the East Exit. You will see the big Studio Alta building. Go down the street to the left of that and Okadaya will be right there on your left. There are two buildings across a little alley from each other with the Okadaya logo on it. One is fabric only and one has the craft stuff. If you walk into one and it has makeup stuff on the first floor, that's the crafty one you wanna be in. Check out the floor guide (it has English, too!) and pick the floor you want. I spent my time on floor five, filled with yarn, crochet and knitting books and accessories.



Top row: Spectre Modem yarn in three shades of purple; Noro Kureyon yarn.
Bottom row: a Kumamon phone charm crochet kit; Clover brand pom pom makers; a needle felting kit with book and all materials needed.


It was so incredibly nice up on this floor - the coziest and inviting craft shop. The music was soft, the workers were nice, and the floor was arranged in a way that you kept discovering new things on different displays or endcaps. I could have stayed there forever, but I was with other non-crafty people and my budget was running a little low (this was on one of the last days on our trip). All of the stuff pictured above was under ¥5000, though! Not bad for all of that stuff. I haven't decided what I want to do with the yarn, yet. Any suggestions?

photo from wikipedia

Tokyu Hands

Although I haven't posted about it much lately, my Filofax game is still strong. When I visited the stationary floor of Tokyu Hands in the Takashimaya Times Square building in Shinjuku, I knew that I would have my hands full of new tape, stickers, and pens immediately. And I did. It is pretty easy to find and to get to - you'll see the big Times Square sign from the east side of the station. Here is a map and floor guide.


Top row: Zebra Mildliner highlighters (only ¥500 a pack!); washi tape; heart stickers; Liz Lisa Sliccies pen (with spots for three ink cartridges).
Bottom row: Kitty to-do list post-its; Matyroshka page markers and post-its; mushroom themed post its; kitty stickers; three Sliccies ink cartridges in pink, purple, and dark blue.


How cute is all of this stuff? It was so hard to pick, trust me - all of this came to maybe ¥5000 or ¥6000. I'm happy with everything! I love love looooove the Liz Lisa tri-colored pen. The ink is so cute - I definitely will be buying more refills for it if I can find a good seller online. Also, I almost had a heart attack when I found the Zebra highlighers for more than half the price I was planning on spending on them on eBay. They're double sided! More more pictures:






This mini notebook is from the Can Do ¥100 shop that I loved to visit over in Nishi Shinjuku.


Color swatches using both the wide-edge side of the pen, as well as the thinner pointed end.


ALL the washi tape I got on this trip. I bought some at Tokyu Hands, the ¥100 shop I mentioned above, and LOFT in Shibuya.



The office supplies and stationary floor in Tokyu Hands was huge and I could have bought a ton more. There was a huge selection of cute stickers like that, tons of MT brand washi, and awesome post its. There were also a lot of other different styles of the Sliccies multi-ink pens - Hello Kitty, of course, but I saw Disney and One Piece styles, too.

Now I'm off to figure out what I want to make with my new yarn! Also - to research where I can buy more ink refills for my pen.
Monday, May 5, 2014

Menya Musashi Ramen in Shinjuku

menya musashi ramen in shinjuku

The number one new food we found this trip to Japan was Menya Musashi in Shinjuku. After we came home from our last time in Tokyo, I really regretted not finding and eating more ramen in the city. Which is weird, because, well - ramen is all over. So this time around, I knew that I wanted to eat and eat and eat those yummy noodles in delicious broth.

Enter Menya Musashi! I found out about the restaurant by Googling something like "really good ramen in Shinjuku" or something like that and this one showed up on a ton of lists. It wasn't too far from our hotel, so I knew we had to find it.

shinjuku tokyo menya musashi

Lucky for us, I have a good friend from Japan that used to work right around the corner from the ramen shop, so she let me know some pretty simple walking directions. Here is a link to the address on Google Maps.

Right before you cross underneath the bridge dividing East and West Shinjuku, locate the tall TANO building with the green dog pushing a shopping cart. (You want to be on the West/Nishi Shinjuku side of the train tracks.) Walk towards the TANO building (across the wide crosswalk and towards the building with the Evangelion pilot statues), and keep walking on the sidewalk directly to the left with the TANO building on your right. Walk a few more blocks until you see signs for Sakura House and a Sunkus conbini on the corner. Turn right at the Sunkus into the side street and you'll see Menya Musashi right away.

best ramen in shinjuku

As a non-Japanese speaker, it's a little intimidating to walk into a restaurant without seeing what's inside first. But I promise, you'll be ok! Push through the red curtains and walk up the couple stairs and you'll immediately see a ticket machine with photos of delicious noodles, as well as one long counter and friendly-and-loud workers in red shirts.

ramen restaurants in shinjuku tokyo

As you can see, the meals are not that expensive. The top left button will get you a ticket for the dipping noodles (tsukemen) and the one next to it will be a big bowl of noodles in broth. The yellow button in the bottom right is ビール - beer! Put your money in first, select your meal, and a ticket will spit out.

where to eat ramen in shinjuku

Here is the ticket I got for the second option. If all the seats are full, move all the way to the end of the area behind the counter and wait for the servers to take your ticket and tell you where to sit. If there are open seats, the servers will take your tickets and ask you some questions about what you're eating and then seat you.

I found a blog that told me some Japanese answers, but the handful of times that I went there the servers asked in English. I did try to answer the questions in Japanese, though - asari broth and nami size. The amount of travel websites that Menya Musashi is featured on has probably increased the foreign traffic in the restaurant by a lot, so they are more than likely used to gaijin visiting. They asked us what type of broth we wanted (stronger or lighter flavor) and what size (medium or large). Everything is delicious, so go ahead and pick what you want.

shinjuku tsukemen

The tsukemen (above) was very delicious, too. The pork that comes with both the ramen and the dipping noodles is pretty amazing (fatty and flavorful), but the eggs were my favorite. We loved it at Menya Musashi so much that we ended up eating there three times during our trip. It was inexpensive, fast, easy, and super yummy. The longest we had to wait for seats was only about 15 minutes, and that was because we were there right around lunch time.

menya musashi ramen in shinjuku

Menya Musashi ramen is named after a famous samurai and the decor of the restaurant is full of movie posters and art featuring double-handed sword-wielding figures. Another notable quality of the shop (one that is mentioned on many food blogs!) is the energy level of the chefs. The workers are shout in unison as the noodles are strained and poured into each bowl.

I definitely recommend visiting if you are ever in Tokyo. It's a short walk from the station (no more than 10 minutes) and is well-worth the money and time it would take to find it.
 
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