Posted on Leave a comment

This month I’m … October 2020

Can you believe it’s already October?!
Christmas is officially on the way and I can’t wait for those the beautiful Japanese autumn colours to start coming out 🍂

Happy weekend!
Alex x

WATCHING
Long Way Up
I’m not a biker, but I’m a traveller and I loved the first two TV series with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in 2004 and 2007 when they rode their bikes from London to NYC and from Scotland to South Africa respectively. This time they are travelling on prototype electric Harley Davidsons from the southern tip of South America all the way to LA. So good! 

GETTING ORGANISED
for Christmas 🎄 
Yes, it’s only early October, but I’ll be extra organised getting my gifts sorted his year – the international postal systems are all messed up and things just take so much longer to arrive. 
Bonus point: no more last minute rush to the shops a couple of days prior to Christmas!

READING
Florence Adler Swims Forever
by Rachel Beanland
Set in Atlantic City in the summer of 1934 three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance and the weight of family secrets. 

LOOKING FORWARD
to autumn!
Autumn is my most favourite season in Japan – those colours are just breathtaking! 🍁

Posted on Leave a comment

Japan-inspired art and some sale items 💚

I’m super excited to have some of Ilana Dashe’s fabulous Japan-inspired artworks on display in the Showroom right now!

See below for some of them – They can currently be purchased in the Showroom and I’ll add them to the online store shortly.

Keep smiling,
Alex x

P.S. Scroll further down for some sale offers now available in my online store 🙂

Ilana Dashe artworks now available

More of Ilana’s work: https://www.instagram.com/dasheprints/

On sale in the online store

Posted on Leave a comment

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’re Not Lazy — 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 😅

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**

Posted on Leave a comment

This month I’m … March 2020

Well hello everyone,

Right – what’s going on in the world??
The last couple of weeks have been … interesting … to put it politely.
Event cancellations left, right and center, closed schools & museums, travel restrictions etc.

I hope you are all okay out there. Keep up the spirit! (I’m finding that one a bit difficult, especially on rainy days like today, but hey…)

Despite the current turmoil I’ve decided to keep on going with my Open Days for the time being, but will let you know if things change.

Stay healthy & happy
Alex x

READING
“The Silent Patient”
by Alex Michaelides

EXPLORING
the Izu Peninsula. This is rather last minute and I haven’t done any research. We had booked to go to Bangkok, but a certain virus messed up our plans…
Would love your recommendations!

GETTING EXCITED ABOUT
the amazing ceramics I found on my last sourcing trip – available in the Showroom at the end of March

REPLANNING
a whole bunch of trips. I usually go sourcing in spring, but that’s probably not going to happen at this stage… 🦠

BEAVERING AWAY 
on my online shop. I’m hoping to have the first set of products up & running at the end of the month!

Posted on Leave a comment

Travelling – my favourite resources, websites and apps

The world of travel planning has become a complex one. Back in the day the traveller / holiday maker basically had two options to get information: the bookstore and the travel agent. 

Fast forward to the digital age and one can spend hours and hours researching the best hotel options / train connections / restaurants / things to do. I admit I sometimes get lost for ages in the world wide web just doing that, but I usually gravitate back to these resources that help me plan and book:


Guide books

I still remember the first time I held a Lonely Planet guide book in my hands. A whole new world opened up for me that day at the age of 24 in a bookstore in London. You can travel the world independently?? Without having to have huge savings?? I was gobsmacked, excited and elated! And I have used Lonely Planet guides for my trips and travels ever since. I tried different guide book series, but always went back to LP. Carrying a guide book around might seen old fashioned to some people as you pretty much have all the information you never knew you needed on your smartphone, but I like the compactness of a guide book. Plus I love diving into the history, culture and food sections of the Lonely Planet guide books on long flights and train journeys.

One of my favourite feature of the books is the map highlighting the best sights of a country. That instant overview paired with suggested itineraries depending on the length of your stay is gold.

Those maps can also be found online on Lonely Planet’s website.

For more tricky travel issues such as up-to-date information on land border crossings I like to refer to Lonely Planet’s Thorntree forum


Accommodation 

My first choice for accommodation reservations is Booking.com. I like the generous cancellation policy for most hotels. Also their app is very user-friendly, in particular the feature that lets you display the address of your hotel address in the local language – a godsend when arriving in a new country without any command of the lingo.

I also use Airbnb quite frequently as you get to stay in more local areas and the tips your get from some of the owners are invaluable!

If you are after a bit of luxury, make sure to check Mr & Mrs Smith as well as iEscape to swoon over their listings which are absolutely divine.


Flights

Skyscanner is my go-to source to research flight connections. Flights can’t be booked directly through the them, but Skyscanner displays a list of bookable websites with all respective prices for each particular connection. It pays to have a look at the user ratings for those websites. Some of them are dreadful to deal with if you need to change / cancel a flight. 

I usually find my connections on Skyscanner and book directly with the airline(s).


Car hire

I pretty much use Rentalcars for all of my car hire bookings as they seem to cover most locations and their app is very user-friendly.

With most bookings Rentalcars offers the option to upgrade the insurance level for the car – an option I usually make use of as I have been stung by local insurance charges.

Using Rentalcar’s insurance upgrade alters the claims process: the local car hire company charges the user’s credit card for damages caused and Rentalcars refunds the money after. I recently had a claim – the refund process was simple and swift.


On the ground transportation

Taxi apps I use are Uber and Grab. The latter works very well in a number of South-East Asian countries. 

Bahn.de is great for booking trains in Germany and Europe and I also like to refer to Seat 61.


Other

Travelling with a group? I highly recommend using Tricount to keep on top of shared costs and expenses. This handy little app lets everyone log whatever they spent for the whole group and the app calculates who owes what to whom. Multiple currencies are supported.

Not mentioning Tripadvisor in my list of resources would be wrong as I refer to it more often than not for restaurants and things to go.

The best resources however are the locals themselves or friends & family who have recently been to the place of interest. Nothing beats a personal recommendation!!

Happy travelling!
Alex x

Posted on Leave a comment

Introducing: “This month I’m…”

Turquoise Port was founded and is run by me, myself & I.
My personal life and my life as a small business owner are very much intertwined so instead of just talking about my products, events and releases all the time, I thought I’ll share a few more personal things with you on a regular basis.

This is the first instalment of “This month I’m…” 

READING
City of Girls
by Elizabeth Gilbert

GETTING EXCITED ABOUT
new arrivals of Vietnamese pom pom cushion covers – available in the Showroom at the end of February

EXPLORING
Kobe, Japan
Any recommendations?

MAKING 
a bunch of different muesli / granola recipes
Got a good one? Please send it to me!

I’d love to know what you are up to – comment below or send an email to let me know.

Alex x

Posted on Leave a comment

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 – that’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’s the issue with working for yourself: deadlines are very fluid and there is no boss to hurry you along! 😇
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 – I 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. “City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is the book I’m reading right now.

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

Alex x