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How to create a stylish outdoor space for summer

Hi everyone & taaa daaa!

May I present the first installment of quick home styling videos with the fabulous Cherie Jones of Cherie Jones Design ūü§©

Given that most of us will spend the summer in our homes this year, you may want to turn your outdoor space, no matter how tiny or large, into a stylish oasis for the season. Small changes can make a huge difference to the mood and feel of a place.

Please let me know what other areas in your home you’d like us to tackle in future videos.

Keep smiling,
Alex x

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This month I’m … June 2020

And June it is – the rainy season upon us followed by Tokyo’s relentlessly¬†hot and humid summer.¬†
Isn’t it¬†odd how quickly the last few months have gone whilst life in general notably¬†slowed down? Something to ponder about …

Right about now I had planned to launch my 2020 collection. Covid-19 stopped me right in my tracks by cancelling my last sourcing trip as well as orders coming from outside of Japan.

So instead of presenting a half-completed collection I’ll just show the beautiful pieces I found during the next few weeks over on Instagram & Facebook as well as via my mailing list.

Alex x

GETTING EXCITED ABOUT
opening my Showroom again!
I’ve made quite a few changes & can’t wait to show them off!

STARTING TO WORK ON
a series of home styling videos with Cherie Jones of Cherie Jones Design. Stay tuned!

READING
“The Clockmaker’s Daughter”
by Kate Morton
* I’m over 1/2 way through and addicted to the story! Great summer read.

RECEIVING
new Bikudesigns stock including a selection of fabulous vintage kimono fabric headbands!

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Showroom re-opens!

I’m super excited to re-start my regular¬†Showroom Open Days!

Thursday, 11th June … 11am – 5pm‚Ā†
Saturday, 20th June … 1pm – 6pm‚Ā†
Wednesday, 24th June … 11am – 5pm‚Ā†
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All doors and windows will be open throughout the day to allow constant airflow, hand sanitizer is placed at the entrance, I’ll be wearing a mask and would like to ask all visitors to please wear a mask as well.‚Ā†
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Credit card payments are possible.
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Please get in touch for address and further details.‚Ā†

Private¬†appointments are¬†available if you’d rather like to have the place to yourself¬†to browse the collection.

Hope to see you soon!¬†ūüíô
Alex x

P.S. I will be monitoring the situation closely and cancel scheduled Showroom Open Days if necessary.

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What’s your daily routine these days?

Mr. M and I have been in self-imposed lockdown for over two months now and whilst it was all strange at first, we have a good routine going now. 

I enjoy having a “colleague” (Mr. M working from home) in the “office” for the time being. Working alone can be lonely sometimes, but now I have someone to meet for lunch in the kitchen. ¬†
ūüėÄ

Thank you so much for your feedback regarding my last blog post! Sounds like you enjoyed my links and recipes Рplease scroll down to for some more.

Stay healthy & keep the spirits high
Alex x

Some of my favorite links

The world after coronavirus
This storm will pass. But the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come

A possible positive consequence of the lockdown
Are we witnessing the death of the car?

Very interesting podcast by The New York Times
The next year (of two) of the Pandemic

This aerial film of Japan is mesmerizing
Japan in 8K

I am drooling over #1¬†ūüėÖ
10 of the Worlds Most Jaw-Dropping Modern Homes

Yep! This!
Can all the lockdown motivators get lost

The question on many minds
When Will Flying Be Safe Again?

If you have been avoiding popping to the supermarket too often, you might find this useful
Methods for Storing Fresh Herbs

Eat (and cook) your heart out

We get a weekly veggie box¬†delivered to our doorstep and I love the surprise factor – you just never know¬†what’s in it! Swiss¬†chard and collard greens have been¬†included¬†in recent deliveries which gave me the opportunity to try this yummy Swiss¬†Chard Fritters¬†recipe from one of my favourite cook books: ¬†“Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi.

400g Swiss chard leaves, stalks removed (I used a mixture of Swiss chard & collard greens)
30g flat leaf parsley
20g fresh coriander
20g fresh dill
1.5 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 eggs
80g feta, crumbled
60ml olive oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil¬†and simmer the chard leaves for 5 minutes.
  • Drain and¬†squeeze well until completely dry.
  • Whizz in a food processor with the herbs, nutmeg, sugar, flour, garlic, eggs, a third of a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper.
  • Fold in the feta by hand.
  • Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan over medium-high heat and spoon in a heaped tablespoon¬†of the mixture for each¬†fritter.
  • Press down gently to shape into 7cm wide, 1cm thick fritters, and cook for 3-4minutes, turning once, until they take on some colour.
  • Transfer to kitchen paper and repeat with the remaining fritter mix and oil.
  • Serve hot with a wedge of lemon.

**vegetarian**

Chicken in red wine

I must have made this dish a thousand times. Serve with mashed potatoes or crusty bread to soak up those juices.
Just. so. yummy!

Recipe 

Swedish cinnamon rolls

Best served fresh and warm from the oven. I make these in batches and freeze them.

Recipe 

**vegetarian*

Spiced chickpea, saffron and cranberry pilau rice

There’s something about the combination of saffron, coriander and basmati rice that makes me come back to this recipe over and over.

Recipe 

**vegan if you use oil instead of ghee*

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How are you all doing?

A year ago Mr. M & I¬†used the Japan’s Golden Week break to discover more of beautiful¬†Mother Earth¬†– we travelled through Uzbekistan.

And right now we would be on our adventure through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia soaking up the century-old history and culture of that fascinating part of the world. We would be exploring the local cuisine, ancient monasteries, charming villages as old as the hills and spectacular mountain vistas.

Instead we are hunkered down in Tokyo trying to ride out the wave of strange uncertainty that has washed over each and everyone of us. And that’s ok – we should¬†all be doing our¬†best¬†to make sure the current situation gets resolved as soon as¬†possible. If that is¬†staying at home so be it!

If you follow my Instagram/Facebook¬†stories you might have noticed that I’ve rediscovered my love of cooking –¬†scroll down for some of the¬†recipes I’ve been using recently.¬†

Instead of travelling¬†I’m¬†spending far more time reading well-written articles some of which I have shared with you below in the hope that you might find them useful.

I sincerely hope you, your family and friends are all ok, wherever you are. 

Stay healthy & safe
Alex x

Some of my favorite links

Crisis management
Why do female leaders seem to be more successful at managing the coronavirus crisis?

You can still watch the recording of Andrea Bocelli’s beautiful Easter live stream
Andrea Bocelli: Music For Hope – Live From Duomo di Milano

I certainly felt exhausted during the first few weeks of self isolation
You‚Äôre Not Lazy ‚ÄĒ Self-Isolation is Utterly Exhausting

Life under lockdown in a number of countries
Fodor’s writers around the world share what life is like under lockdown

And on a lighter note: Travel the world in 10 cocktails
10 Signature Cocktails From Around the World and the History Behind Them

Yes to us Gen Xers!
It Took a Global Pandemic, But Generation X is Finally Getting Love

Cooking (and baking) up a storm

This is a very simple fail-proof recipe for a dense German-style bread which I bake all the time:

500g rye, wholemeal or spelt flour
15g salt
7g dry yeast
5g bread seasoning (I get mine in Germany, but there are lots of recipes online. It can be made in batches as it lasts quite a while.)
70g sesame seeds
70g sunflower seeds
70g pumpkin seeds
15g caraway seeds (whole, not ground)
500ml water

  • Mix all dry ingredients
  • Add water and knead¬†by hand or using a stand mixer until very well mixed
  • Cover dough and let rise for 30min in a warm place
  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius, line rectangular baking tin with non-stick paper & put a pot with water into the oven (bottom shelf)
  • Add dough to baking tin¬†and bake for 75 min on the middle shelf¬†(leave the pot of water inside the oven)

**vegan**

 

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata

Another frequent visitor to our dining table –¬†quick & easy. I just use whatever mushrooms I can get my hands on. Love the variety of shrooms in Japan!

Recipe 

**vegetarian**

Chicken Musakhan

I’m a big fan of Middle Eastern food and cook it quite frequently. Loved this chicken dish I made for the first time a few days ago so much that I ordered the cook book¬†ūüėÖ

Recipe 

Warm beetroot, lentil & walnut salad

I used to hate beetroot and now love it! This salad ticks a lot of boxes for me – moorish, easy & nutritious.

Recipe 

**vegan if you replace the honey with something like maple syrup**

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Showroom closed until further notice … COVID-19 ūü¶†

Dear all,

With the global virus crisis still going strong, I’ve decided to close the Showroom for the time being.‚Ā†
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I’m still around though (not going anywhere really as I’m social distancing) so if you see anything you like, please get in touch. Shipping is available for most items or else I can keep your purchases for you until things get better out there.‚Ā†
‚Ā†
Stay safe, look after yourself and out for each other ūüíô‚Ā†
Alex x ‚Ā†

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2020 goals

We are one month into 2020 and I’m well into achieving some of the goals I have set for myself and Turquoise Port at the beginning of the year. The emphasis is on SOME of the goals; not all of them are ticking along nicely.
But hey Рthat’s the nature of goals, isn’t it?

My absolute #1 goal for Turquoise Port is to finally get my online shop up and running! It has been on my to-do list FOREVER, but that‚Äôs the issue with working for yourself: deadlines are very fluid and there is no boss to hurry you along! ūüėá
A lot of work has already been done, but a quite a few more hours are needed before I can flick the switch. 

Another goal is to share some of my travel tips and stories with you. I travel a lot and love talking about it, so why not write some of it down and share it with you in the hope that you’ll get inspired to visit new places and maybe even revisit some places you have already been to?¬†

Talking about travelling: We (Mr. M & I) have come up with a whole long list of places we want to visit in Japan before we leave. While we don’t have a departure date yet, we are well aware that our Japanese adventure can end at any time. 
We have already started to chisel away at the list by visiting Kanazawa and the gassho-style (thatched roof) Unesco World Heritage villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama in January and we purchased Shinkansen tickets to Kobe for the long weekend in February. 

I’ve never been sporty, but I started to be quite active in the last few months of 2019. My goal is to keep the current level of exercise up РI work out 4-5 times a week with a combination of going to the gym, bootcamp classes, reformer pilates workouts and some Krav Maga thrown in.

One goal I am still struggling with is making mediation part of my day. I gave it a go not so long ago and enjoyed it, but it is not yet part of my routine. Got any tips for me that might help? I use the Calm app and currently work my way through the beginner levels.

My reading challenge is going well and I am on track with reading 12 books in 2020. ‚ÄúCity of Girls‚Ä̬†by Elizabeth Gilbert is the book I‚Äôm reading right now.

What are your goals? I’d love to know! 

Alex x

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Getting closer

Remember the Bikudesigns x Turquoise Port creative collaboration we keep talking about? Well today you can see some of the limited edition items in close-up that will be launched VERY soon.

The Meera clutch is made by hand in India from a combination of gold rattan, hand-embroidery and hand-beading. Inside there is a nifty little detachable antique bronze chain making this a perfect little bag for a brunch or evening cocktails. It’s so easy to dress up or down depending on the event.

The Musubime cuff is so light and easy to wear that you won’t even know it’s there. Made from a turquoise vintage iro-muji kimono, the bracelet gives you a little hint of the matchy-matchy with the Meera clutch, without overdoing it.

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Creative collaboration update

A couple of days ago Victoria from Bikudesigns and I launched our creative collaboration project and cheekily didn’t show you the items we have been working on. So here they are on an actual person, on a street in Tokyo. All of the jewellery pieces are made from a single turquoise iro-muji vintage kimono.

Our collection comprises of:
Meera clutch-hand embroidered and beaded with a chain strap
Harisashi stud earrings
Saya dangle earring
Saya fabric pendant on a chain (long or short)
Musubime neckpiece
Musibime bracelet

Launch day is fast approaching so make sure you are firmly in the loop to hear about when and how you can get your hands on these limited edition pieces.

Thank you to our amazing models:

https://www.instagram.com/qintokyo/
https://www.instagram.com/sayamatcha/
https://www.instagram.com/lia__kim/

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Collaboration unveiled!

Victoria Close from Bikudesigns and I have been working furiously behind the scenes since 2018 to design a creative collaboration of bags and jewellery.

This was the first time either of us had worked with another business, planned and creatively directed a photo shoot with a professional photographer or launched a joint campaign. To say it was a steep learning curve is somewhat of an understatement.

Thanks so much to our fantastic models and photographer who worked all day to create the look and feel we wanted.  They were all so patient with us newbies.