During the summer holidays in 2014, we made a trip to Hokkaido, Japan. Our first stop was in Hakodate, Hokkaido for one day before we headed to Sapporo. From Tokyo all the way to Hokkaido we took “shinkansen”, a bullet train. There is a whole another post to be written on our fun ride on different trains with JR Passes. The very first day in Hakodate was chilly even though it was already the end of June. Hot drinks at Starbucks in Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse area in Hakodate defrosted our freezing bodies. I loved how the interior of the Starbucks in Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse was decorated with a port theme.
I’m finally getting to my photos I’ve taken this summer. It took me a long time to get back to the blogging routine. Thank you so much to those readers who left me sweet comments on my instagram or Facebook page. Your words meant a lot to me and made me want to come back to blogging.
I feel like I’m not fully back yet. I had gone away from blogging for over two months. The summer time when I took a break from our expat life with a fabulous help at home and returned to the reality where I had to do everything on my own was a good wake-up call and eye-opening experience for me. During the summer, at the end of the day I had no juice to face my computer to blog or edit my photos. I was done mentally and physically. At the same time, it was great that I lived my life. I removed my blog filter and enjoyed every moment of my time with my family and friends without looking through my camera lens. It was needed and appreciated.
Here are my instagram photos which I took at the Starbucks in Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse area in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan.
Our trip to Hokkaido was an absolutely gem. It was just what we needed.
Now I have to work on more photos.
Before that, though, I have to reevaluate how I want to balance my life with blogging.
Style My Kid / Chuzai Living
Le Petit Society is an Asian base children’s fashion brand founded by a Singaporean couple, Robyn and Dylan. I had two wonderful opportunities to collaborate with Le Petit Society. My first collaboration with Le Petit Society came in May 2013 in this post. My second collaboration post came out in the recent past in July 2014 and you can find it here.
Soon after my post on Le Petit Society’s adorable Safari collection came live on my blog, Le Petit Society kindly asked if I wanted to be interviewed for their blog’s new column called “Style My Kid”. I was very flattered that Le Petit Society was actually interested in hearing my opinions about kid fashion! My interview, Style My Kid / Chuzai Living, was recently published on le petit society blog. You can see some of my previous photos there as well.
I am inspired by Robyn and Dylan who founded and run the company. Their website is stylish and beautiful. The design of its clothes are adorable and quite comfortable. How do I know? Because I wear them. Please see my photos on the post about Safari Shirts post. More to come, too. Le Petit Society’s instagram stream is fun as well.
Some day I hope to meet le petit society team. It’s a funny world the blogging creates. What a wondrous world it is, too! I cannot imagine my world without my blog. I say this even though I have not blogged frequently in the recent past. Le Petit Society reminded me of its joy during the summer, though. Arigato!
Did you land in Mumbai with a toddler of yours?
You must have wondered how you can entertain your active child.
I did last summer.
There are not many places you can take your kids to play during the day in Mumbai unless your apartment has an outdoor play area. There are parks and playgrounds in Mumbai, but they usually close from 10:00 a.m. (or 11:00) until 4:00 p.m. (some open at 3:30). Therefore, the precious playgrounds become unavailable during the day when they are very active. To me after 4:00 p.m. is not a possibility to take my toddler to a play ground because I have to be home to attend to my older kids. During the Monsoon Season, outdoor activities are not options. Thus, children’s fitness centers like My Gym and privately owned indoor playgrounds such as Hop n Bop (good for toddlers) and Funky Monkey (fantastic for toddlers to elementary school kids) become great places to entertain active kids.
My Gym is based on membership and you enroll your child in a class. If you were to join for your toddler child, I highly recommend that you join with your friends. I find it more fun for you to go there with your friends. I joined thanks to my friend, Moniek, who told me about the promotion period to join My Gym and invited me and my son to join her, her daughter and their friends. I would have not been able to afford if it was not during the promotion period. (Please scroll down for a deal with My Gym I got for my readers.) It became a regular play date where I could see my friends and my son could see his friends.
Do not worry if your child won’t be able to sit during the class. Many 2-year-olds don’t. My son is definitely the type who would not sit and listen to instructions. In fact, I’m usually chasing after my son because he doesn’t want to participate and runs away from me. My Gym has about 10 to 15 minutes of class activities and after that, children have a free play time and are allowed to go to different stations to have play on their own. During the free play time, staff also creates different activity stations where kids are encouraged to try, but if your kids don’t want to try, it is okay.
Here’s another thing that sold me to My Gym. If you become a member, you can also take your child to what they call “practice and play” sessions which allow members to take their children to play for an hour at a designated time. The practice and play session hours are offered to different age groups throughout the day. There were two practice and play hours in the morning in a week where I thought my son could go, so that was very nice. I like to take my son to My Gym because it’s clean, safe with padded equipments and there are always a couple of My Gym employees who watch kids. It’s wonderful!
When I joined in 2013, I joined during a promotional period. The discounted amount I paid was 18,000 Rs. (about US$300) for 16 sessions which is equivalent to a 4 months period. When you cannot make it to the class, they will not count that day and you can use a make-up day later, which is fantastic.
☆ Special Offer To Chuzai Living Readers ☆
☆ My Gym Bandra in Mumbai India ☆
If you tell that you saw this post on Chuzai Living when you register at My Gym Bandra in Mumbai, India, you will get the same promotion price as I did.
Just in case you are wondering, I am not affiliated with My Gym.
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Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady and politician who devoted her life to fight for the human rights. I have a lot of respect for her and her way of living. She left many words of wisdom that have inspired many people in the world. This is only one example. It was encouraging to see her words on my chalkboard which I see a number of times throughout the day.
This quote reminds me of Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech “I have a dream”. In fact, Eleanor Roosevelt was an ardent supporter of him. I would be happy if I can have even a little bit of their courage to attain my dream.
Do you have a dream? Having a dream gives you hope for the future, doesn’t it?
I have been absent from the blog world for a while. Normally it’s hard for me to blog when I am on vacation visiting our families in the U.S. and Japan not to mention dealing with a jet-lag at the beginning. Even after getting adjusted, I feel tired by the end of the day taking care of my kids. At the same time I am trying to live in the moment and enjoy my family’s company as opposed to facing my computer working on my blogging hobby so that I can keep up with my posts. It’s hard enough to find the time for myself in the first place when I’m home since I do normal chores that many women in Japan and the U.S. do at home such as laundry, grocery shopping, and dishes. I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to afford a help at home in India.
I have done a collaboration with Le Petit Society before here a little over a year ago in Jakarta thanks to my blogger friend Erica of Expatria Baby. I love their outfits on my son! The shirts got too small on my son, but he can still wear the sorts, so he still wears them to this day!
I had another wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Le Petit Society this summer and received some beautiful items from the new Safari Collection at Le Petit Society. All three of my kids were really happy in their brand new outfits and it made me happy to see them in such cute outfits. This time I even received a few items for myself! One of them which I wore for this post is a cool rhino shirt that matches with my son’s! Thank you, Le Petit Society!!!
今年の夏、再びLe Petit Societyとコラボをさせていただく機会に恵まれ、Le Petit Societyのサファリ・コレクションから可愛い洋服を頂きました。子供たちは可愛い洋服に大喜び。そんな子供たちを見れた私もとても幸せな気持ちになりました。今回は、有り難いことに私も２点洋服を頂いてしまいました。その一点は、こちらの記事の写真でお見せしている、息子とお揃いのサイのシャツです。Le Petit Society、ありがとう！
Please click here for their online catalogues. For the customers who live in Asian countries that are listed here on the Le Petit Society website, you get a free standard shipping if you spend more than HK$1,200 (US$155)!
Have you stepped into a home where you wonder if you have walked into a museum? That was how I felt when I went to my Japanese friend, Ako’s home. Can you believe that this is actually an expat’s home? Even thought Ako and her family settled down in Mumbai 3 years ago knowing that they had a limited time to spend in this apartment, they created a stunning home away from home with antiques from India.
Besides gorgeous and amazing looking antiques Ako and her husband, Mark collected during the 3 years of their stay in Mumbai, the flowers that they decorate their home with are absolutely stunning. Ako says it’s all Mark who loves to decorate their home with antiques and flowers, but I must say that Ako also shares beautiful aesthetic as well. Apparently, Mark goes out to a market early in the morning to buy fresh flowers from the flower market on a regular basis. That I call a true passion. I don’t even get up early to blog and I want to call blogging my passion…
As you can tell from their home, Ako and Mark have fully embraced their time in India. You don’t often find people like them who enjoy and take in what this amazing country has to offer as much as they have. I believe that creating home with what you love and surround yourself with what makes you feel happy especially in a foreign environment helps you cope with some challenges you may have living overseas. To me that’s exactly what Ako and Mark have done. I think that many of us can learn from their life style.
Since I have many photos to show, I would love for you to see them! I hope you’ll enjoy the photo tour of Ako’s home!
I love all the colors that Mark and Ako creatively added with fresh flowers to otherwise dark-color antique decor.
These flowers in the photo above are real. The height of the flowers in the vase is probably 2 meters. I have never seen this vase being empty at least whenever I visited.
Aren’t these beautiful? I have never seen flowers like this before.
I have had a privilege to get to know Ako through our daughters. Do you agree that your friendship after kids revolve so much around your children? Ako’s daughter and my oldest daughter became friends in a weekly Japanese class that they took after school. It has been very encouraging for my oldest daughter to have a friend who has a very similar background and I was delighted that my daughter was motivated by her friend. Unfortunately for me and my daughter, Ako and her family are off to their new chapter of their lives and will leave Mumbai this summer in 2014. It is quite heartbreaking to see off friends like Ako and her family, but I also feel excited for them to start their new adventures. I do hope that we can stay in touch.
Best wishes to Ako and her family!
Blogging is my hobby, not my job. I would love to update my blog as often as I can during the summer break, but since I take off for the summer vacation, I may not be able to appear here as frequently as I have (which has not been much lately…). I hope you will come visit me time to time.
I hope everyone has a wonderful summer (or winter for those who are in the southern hemisphere). Be safe.
Home is where your heart is.
That is what comes to me when I think of my friend, Sandra’s home.
Sandra, an American expat in Mumbai, moved here from New York with her husband and 3 daughters 3 years ago. She created her new home in Mumbai a true home away from home. Sandra says her home back in the U.S. is decorated with very natural and neutral colors. When she moved to India, though, she decided that she would embrace the rich colors you can find in India. This gorgeous home is the result of her creation.
When I first walked into her home, I instantly fell in love with this stenciled wall. Her hallway, living room, kitchen, dining room and family room walls are all painted in tiffany blue color which is Sandra’s favorite color (I love it, too!!). The front hallway wall has a shimmer coat to the paint which distinguishes the hallway from the rest of her apartment whilst capturing one’s eye with elegance.
When Sandra first moved to Mumbai, she knew that she would be in Mumbai at least for 2 years. She wanted to make her furnished apartment a true home. Despite the cost, she changed the carpeted floor to hardwood floor as she and her children have asthma and fill the living spaces with the items she and her husband purchased in India. While many unique and beautiful items are from India, the big pieces of furniture belong to the landlord, thus Sandra used her creative skills to add her own colors which many expats and people living in rental homes can appreciate and learn from.
I hope you will enjoy the virtual tour of her home!
Urli & Good Earth Lanterns
The pot on the floor is called urli/uruli which is a cooking pot from Kerala, South India. Sandra filled her two urli with rose petals. My another friend, Rachel, has an urli at the front door and filled it with water and flowers as well which I featured in the last post here. The two lanterns behind urli are from Good Earth. (Good Earth’s restaurant Tasting Room is beautiful, too!)
The trunk is from Jodhpur which is also known as a blue city (just look up Jodhpur on internet. You’ll find the most beautiful images of the city with blue buildings!) and the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan in North India. I hear from my friends that Jodhpur is the city to find beautiful Indian furniture.
This trunk is also from Jodhpur.
Bar Cart From Oshiwara
The bar cart is an old antique cart which Sandra found in Oshiwara in northern Mumbai. Isn’t this wood carving work just beautiful?
Good Earth Candle Holder
I am in love with this candle holder which has the mixture of modern and contemporary Indian design with gorgeous rustic light blue paint. Sandra bought it at Good Earth.
Bean Bags & Instrument Toys
Sandra says she encourages her children to play instruments, so the only toys that are allowed in this room are toy instruments. The bean bags are from Bean Bag. A wonderful blogger Bombay Jules featured Bean Bag company in Mumbai “Who is BEANBAG” on her blog.
Couches & Chairs
She reupholstered the furnished couches into the purple colors and order made the white chair covers as the colors on the chairs did not go with the room. That’s the beauty of living in a city with affordable upholsterer.
This Indian window is Sandra’s most recent purchase in India which they plan on hanging on the wall in their home in New York after they move back. I think that will look absolutely stunning in their new home.
Kids Craft Table
This is a family area where the children watch TV and also work on craft activities. Colors and activities make it all fun to be home!
Marrakesh Tent By Haba
Mothercare Toy Kitchen
This toy kitchen was purchased at Mothercare in Mumbai, India.
I never knew about Kapla until Sandra introduced me to it. It is such a wonderful toy that promotes creativity and an activity. Kapla seems like a toy that a whole family can enjoy together. In fact, Sandra says she ends up playing with Kapla longer than her daughters sometimes!
Sandra and her family are about to finish their third year in Mumbai and sadly enough for me and my girls, they are moving back to the U.S. in the summer 2014. I wish I had gotten to know Sandra earlier, but the timing did not work out and the time slipped away.
It feels that one school year is too short to meet and get to know friends. My two cents from my own experience is that if you have a chance to get to know someone whom you like, grab the opportunity and invest your time with her/him. Sometimes you don’t even have the time to regret missing opportunities in a fast pace expat living in a mega city like Mumbai.
My warm wishes to Sandra and her family for their new adventures!!!