Xmas shopping in June

Apart from their immaculately restored mediaeval townscape, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is famous for Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village. This all-year Christmas store has two shops on Harrngrasse, off Marktplaz.

‘I think I’m gonna find some gifts for my close friends at Käthe Wohlfahrt.’, mum told me as we had our German breakfast.

By the way, we loved German-style breakfast – a buffet style breakfast consisted of various breads, cheeses, cold meats, jams, cereals, juice, yoghurt, salad and fruits – very much! I also introduced mum to blue cheese during a breakfast buffet at Strasbourg as the cheese was packed with gut-friendly bacteria. At first, she was not very keen on “cheese with mould”. However, she grew to like it by the end of our road trip. Our favourite way of eating the cheese was to have it with a thinly sliced German-style rye bread. They were delish!

After breakfast, we checked out of our room at 9:30. I asked at the reception if we could continue to park our car in their car park while we were sightseeing because we couldn’t see much of the town the previous day due to our late arrival. The receptionist replied, ‘Of course! You can park all day if you want.’ How nice! We liked the town even more.

The sunshine was beating the streets already. I had got a feeling that it was going to be another sizzling day…

Rothenburg was full of gift shops!

Mum loved a linen shop which was laden with house accessories such as cushions, pillow cases, tea towels, handkerchieves, Christmas ornaments, etc. All of them were beautifully hand embroidered and some of them were heavenly scented with locally produced lavender. ‘How do I look?’ Mum picked up one of the hand embroidered t-shirts and asked my opinion. She didn’t expect the weather to be this hot, therefore, she needed a few new tops. The t-shirt was made with organic cotton and looked very flattering on her. ‘Yeah mum, it’s a definite buy!’ So she bought it.

Marktplaz was filling up with tourists…

There was a fountain which we overlooked the previous day…

Mum with a cute company car of Käthe Wohlfahrt which reminded me of a Harrod’s delivery van…

Mum with their all year around Christmas tree…

No photography was allowed beyond this point, therefore, I have no image of this Aladdin’s Cave for Christmas lovers. Describing it in one word, the store was HUGE. Every available space, such as walls and shelves and even some floors were utilised to display everything “Christmas”. Despite it was in the middle of June and nearly 28°C outside, being on the comfortably air-conditioned shop floor with never ending Christmas tune ringing in our ears, we felt like the festive season was just around the corner, not six months away!

Mum pondered for a long time what to buy for her friends. ‘No chocolate because they’re gonna melt. No tree ornament because they’re too fragile and bulky…’ Oh, she was in trouble. Then, we came to a department selling advent calendars. ‘How about them?’ I suggested mum to get those fun calendars for her friends. Since advent calendars were a part of the German Christmas traditions, they would be most appropriate and space-saving souvenirs! She agreed and we picked altogether 15 sheets, including one for herself.

When we left the shop, it was nearly eleven and the sun was high…

Before leaving the town, mum wanted to visit the shop we came across last evening…

There were many small wooden toys and ornaments in their show windows. ‘Shall we go in?’

We found a woman at the till / worktop busy assembling one of her Christmas table ornaments. She explained that all the items in her shop were made by her and her husband. Mum and I agreed that we wanted a souvenir for ourselves which was truly “Made in Germany” since Rothenburg used to be a town well-known for their craftmen and artisans. We chose a Christmas table ornament with a Santa Claus, a reindeer and a tree arranged on a small rectangular dais. ‘This will remind me about the fun we had together.’ Mum smiled.

Now, we must get back to the car and head to our next destination!

Eww, I’ve got a feeling that our car will be scorching hot by now. How am I gonna touch the steering wheel with my naked hands…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Uroco @ Spitalfields Market

My old friend Lala and her husband David run a beautiful stall at Spitalfields Market. In my humble opinion, I think their stall is the most original and inimitable amongst all the shops in the weekend market.

I acquainted with Lala years back when she had a stall at Portbello Market. She was selling handcrafted bags and accessories and I fell in love with one of her cross-body bags in emerald green silk kimono fabric. I was impressed by not only her well-designed bag but also her bubbly personality and eventually, we became friends.

Their brand, UROCO, specializes in vintage Japanese kimono and their original handcrafted accessories made from vintage kimono fabrics in silk and cotton.

Thanks to the recent fashion collections shown by major fashion maisons, opulence and exoticism are back in vogue. Hooray! We have finally turned on our heel and walked away from geek-chic of the past few seasons. Instead of a drab mono colour, we can feast our eyes on luscious hues of exquisite kimonos.

Lala and David fly out to Japan regularly and handpick their materials. They are expert in spotting gems and therefore their collection is immaculate and pristine.

Can anything rival this beautifully hand-painted kimono robe for a celebration of glamour and femininity?

Nowadays, examples of incorporating kimonos into everyday wardrobes are prevalent and abundant on the streets and in social media. Kimono’s flowy silhouette makes them easy to be thrown over almost on any outfit and they drape and cascade beautifully. By donning one, one can achieve a glamorous BOHO look instantaneously. It is not a mystery that Lala and David’s rare finds fly away from their stall every weekend.

Apart from their exquisite kimono robes, Lala and David offer their handcrafted collection of accessories. Those items are intensively handmade, often hand-stitched and hand-finished. All of them are ingeniously recycled from genuine antiques which they came across during their sourcing trips to Japan.

If you are not ready for flaunting your individuality with a full-length kimono, these Obi-style belts are the next best thing to glamorize any mundane dress or jumpsuit.

Or how about UROCO’s original silk snoods?

Again, they are cut from vintage silk kimono, and therefore, they are truly unique and one-off. Another plus point is the smoothness of silk which never irritates the skin. I know more than a few men who hate wearing anything scratchy around their neck because their post-Gilletted skin is so sensitive. Hubbie flinches from the idea of having to wear an itchy woolly scarf or a tight turtleneck jumper at anytime, protesting it is his equivalent of the cilice – a hair shirt. I’m sure UROCO’s snood will be perfect for his baby soft skin…

Lala and David with their creations. Each one of the items on sale is the result of their labour of love.

It is almost November and Christmas is only 55 days away. Why don’t you pop over for gift-hunting one weekend? By the way, Saturday’s Spitalfields Market is far more relaxed and nicer than a more famous Sunday affair.

Bandaging and a lampshade free Bella.

We both were then happily oblivious of the fate which awaited us around the corner. I wonder when Bella’s shaven fur will grow back to a normal state because at the moment, she resembles a partly clipped runaway sheep! (sob sob sob)

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bella, oh Bella

Bella is almost 10 weeks old! Since she joined us two weeks ago, her frame has grown bigger and her gait has become steadier. She runs around the apartment like a little tornado and does all sorts of mischief. The first 4 nights were definitely tough on us because she didn’t settle herself into sleep on her own. Her pining kicked off as soon as the light was out. She whined and whined and she increased the volume as she realised her pleading was not getting any response from us. Then, she upped the ante by turning her whining to yapping. When she learnt her yapping and barking were still ignored, she decided to howl like a wolf. Eventually, the dawn broke and zombie-like Hubbie and I sipped our tea and looked at Bella who was only happy to see us. Oh dear, how we managed to persevere those 4 nights, I don’t know. Then, on the fifth night, like a magic, Bella slept through the night and didn’t whimper at all. It felt like a miracle and we were overjoyed!

Being a pup means having lots of naps…

Puppies fall asleep like a wind-up toy out of power, don’t they? After a whirlwind of activities, Bella switches herself off and sleeps like a stone. During these brief periods of calm, I can get on with housekeeping chores. You see, I don’t want be like her jailer but she does need supervision so she won’t end up in vet. Despite we have done our best to puppy-proof our apartment, Bella always manages to find loop holes.

These are the moments of her being caught red handed…

Unlike Mr.B who was cautious to new things, Bella is very into new things. Watching the way she interacts with them is really entertaining but at the same time there have been more than a few “heart in a mouth” moments too.

Oh Bella, I hope your curiosity won’t get yourself into hot water…

As we seem to have managed to establish a routine, I have commenced knitting a new sample for 2017. For this season, I want to combine my finger knitting method with needle knitting. Some  difficulties are expected but I am itching for the challenge!

Bella has given me back a life which went missing after Mr.B’s passing. She doesn’t know how much it means to me. Thank you, little Bella. I am eternally grateful…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Rowan The Cheapskate…

During a Mr.B’s wee patrol this morning, I encountered an odd sight.
A pair of blue jeans in a children’s size was resting on one of the windowsills of our apartment building as someone tossed it up casually but also purposefully.
WTH?
In about 30 yards away, there was a street bin by the bus shelter, and therefore, there was an option for a more civilised way to dispose the unwanted article. However, whoever it was decided to act otherwise for God knows whatever the reason. Is this a new obscure sign between urban gangs /cults in communicating with one another? Or the result of a frustrated parent’s moment of madness as she or he (or both) “lost” it and flung the pair out of the car and it ended up landing on the windowsill? In either way, a poor child somewhere went pants-less for a while and now the sight of an abandoned garment in this peculiar style perplexes passers-by and our cleaning staffs…
Hubbie is in India right now, taking photos of the life in various slums of New Delhi with his client who runs the charity, Water Aid.
A heap of emergency food supplies packed in the suitcase as he is not keen on spicy foods…
He dropped me a short line this morning, saying how depressing to witness the inhabitants who have to endure challenging circumstance on a daily basis. His email makes me feel extremely fortunate to be born and raised in a society where clean running water and decent sanitation are prerequisite. I hope the images he captures will help to highlight the plight of the slum-dwelling people and improve the conditions so far they have to endure.
In Hubbie’s absence, I am mainly at home and keeping my fingers busy with working on samples for A/W 2015 & 2016.
Ever since Rowan decided to discontinue their lovely Big Wool Drift, I was looking for a similar multicolour yarn and when I saw Big Wool Colour, I thought the solution had been found…
However, my expectation evaporated as soon as I started to work with it.
Rowan, how could you name this yarn, which is just a bad imitator of the namesake, as “Big Wool Colour”? My point of contention is the way the yarn is produced. Instead of plying multiple strands of fleece, this yarn has a spine – a black thread – around which fleeces are wrapped around…
They are so loosely wound around the spine and fragile which in return makes a yarn really pain in the a** to handle. It can stuck between stitches because the yarn has weird humps. The strand also doesn’t have any give and bounce like conventionally produced yarns as the thread in the middle has no elasticity. I never encountered any yarn which was this troublesome until I used Big Wool Colour.
I was cursing all the way while I was making a gilet…
The people of Rowan, you are cheapskate. You might have thought that you invented a brilliant way to recycle left over fleece on your factory floor by gathering them and twining them to a strand and selling on the concoction as a new range. True knitters will soon find the yarn unpleasant and time-wasting to work with and swear never to touch it again. And you charge it the same price as Big Wool?
Should be ashamed, Rowan. I am very much indignant…

Feeling Rebellious?

Yesterday was my holing up day – no make-up, hair in an Alice band, comfy jersey dressing mode, etc.
I was gonna crack on with knitting, therefore, in home-confinement mode. I was hoping that nobody would arrive at my doorstep because I was not ready to face my public, in short, I was not very presentable!
Anyway, I knitted all day, being helped by YouTube entertainment and made a good progress…

20131130-085245.jpg

When I am at home, Mr.B is in chilled-out mode too. He travels between Cape Binnie (a black faux sheepskin rug from IKEA), Strawberry HQ (his sagging hideaway) and his Cath Kidson dog bed under the table.
Last night, Hubbie was trying to get Mr.B out of Strawberry HQ for a “Spend a penny” dash to outside. However, Mr.B had other idea and did not want to cooperate…

20131130-090022.jpg

At first, he ignored Hubbie’s call completely.
Then, he looked annoyed because the call became louder and louder…

20131130-090306.jpg

‘Alright, I hear you!!’

20131130-090418.jpg

He shot out of Strawberry HQ like a bullet, decided to take the plunge and get on with the job.
Hey, what is this all about? Don’t be such a sour grape, sweetie.

20131130-090750.jpg

He looks very sheepish, doesn’t he?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Blog at WordPress.com.