A Handemade Travel Guide: Sweet little towns in Southern Alberta

A Handemade Travel Guide: Sweet little towns in Southern Alberta

Nanton, Alberta

“For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

And that’s why I’m going to recount the little adventure Jillian of Logee Photography and I embarked on a couple of days ago. We set out to the foothills to discover shops full of history, art and handmade treasures in those sweet little towns South of Calgary. We headed out there twice and yet there was so much to come across that we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to.

Mint and Maple - Natalie

Our very first stop was Mint and Maple in the olde towne of Okotoks. This sweet little shop is located inside a house in a neighbourhood where you wouldn’t expect a clothing boutique to be. But that’s what Natalie, the owner, sells: beautiful dresses, funky shirts, jewellery and a few home decor items all mindfully sourced.

Just around the corner, there is the lovely Prairie’s Past where you can find the most gorgeous rustic barn wood furniture and creative home decor made by artisan from Southern Alberta. But that’s not all Okotoks has to offer – unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore it all but on my “to-visit”-list for my next trip out there is On Tap: oil and vinegar where you can find the most delicious oils and vinegars and Tribal Connection Market a fair trade store about which I’ve heard only good things.

Branch workshop and studio

Our next stop was in Black Diamond. Usually I like to start my day there with either a tea on The Stop Coffee House‘s patio or one of the amazing milk shakes at the 1950’s inspired Marv’s Classic Soda. This time we went straight to visit Rebecca at Branch. This shop is so sweet and full of the cutest accessories, soaps that smell just perfect and up-cycled furniture in funky colours made by Rebecca and other Albertan artisans. And now imagine all of this in a shabby chic little house.

Another good stop in Black Diamond is the Bluerock Gallery. It’s a pretty big space with one half dedicated to fine arts and the other half to art-related books, post cards, pottery and more. I was seriously impressed!

Our last stop for the day was in High River but as we didn’t plan well, we went there on a Monday. Big mistake! Pixie Hollow’s sounds like such a brilliant mix of books, clothing and stationary and we really wanted to check it out. Oh well, an adventure is an adventure and it wouldn’t be if everything went according to plan. So we decided to have a hot beverage at Colossi’s Coffee House and relax for a while. If we would have been hungry, I would have totally suggested Evelyn’s Memory Lane that serves absurdly yummy pies in a retro setting.

The best decor!

We decided that day two of our little adventure would be solely focused on one little town: Nanton. I drove through so many times on my way to skiing in Fernie or to once to watch Bob Dylan play in Lethbridge but I never managed to stop even though the vintage and antique stores have a fantastic reputation. Oh and it was so much fun, let me tell you all about it!

You can’t start an adventure on an empty stomach, so our first stop was at Stuthornes on Main where we had a very tasty chilly for lunch and the signature lemon pie for desert. Oh, yum.

The Prickly Pear has some serious style and a modern but funky feel in between all those antique stores. Latin American colour schemes, bright accessories and home decor as well as handmade cosmetics. Layne, who owns the Prickly Pear, was super helpful and didn’t mind us taking photos of probably every items she has for sale. Look, look!

If there is one kind of store that I just can’t pass without entering (and buying something), it’s a tea store. At first I was almost overwhelmed by all those super cute tea pots and mugs that are for sale at Teazehri and all those beautiful teas, mmmhhh! Then we started chatting with the lovely Holly who opened the tea shop when she returned home to Canada after having lived in Florida for a while. She told us about her own tea blends in a special packaging with a vintage photo. I just loved the stories behind those blends but I won’t tell you more – you have to go and visit her store and chat with her for a little while to find out all about it.

All the teas!

Out of all the vintage and antique stores we like the Sentimental Journey Antiques the best. They carry dazzling and rare vintage finds but the building they’re in is just awesome. There’s a big room downstairs but when you go upstairs, you find little apartments. Each one is stocked by a different vendor and has a unique atmosphere. In some rooms you can clearly see what was once a kitchen. Immediately Jillian and I came up with stories about what kind of people must have lived there – she voted for miners while I decided that the big room downstairs must have been a saloon and the upstairs was where the dancing ladies would have lived…we probably should have asked someone about the real story but where is the fun in that?

So this was our adventure to the foothills. I really hope you can make it out there this summer as well as it’s a whole lot of fun! If you go, let me know what you like best. Or did you discover something that I missed?

Adventure time - Maple And Oak Designs

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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Happy customers of Maple And Oak Designs

Happy customers of Maple And Oak Designs

happy customers, bow tie sam + groomsmen 2 + Maple And Oak Designs

I just love seeing our customers rocking their Maple And Oak creations.

Like Sam @outdatedidealist and his groomsmen in their custom Beau Ties the day he married Emily @prufrockfolk  which is such an honour for Maple And Oak Designs to be part of their special day! If you’re getting married and want me to do a custom order of Beau Ties for you, don’t hesitate to contact me (mapleandoakdesigns@hotmail.com).

Anchor headband pin up style

Or maybe you’re just so excited about your headband that you have to take silly selfies like Darcie (@dmdyer13)!

I especially like to see our happy customers take selfies because if you take a selfie, you find yourself so self-confident and good looking that you just want to share it with the world. That’s what Maple And Oak Designs is all about: making people happy, good-looking and self-confident.

Plaid Triangle Scarf Maple And Oak

And just look how one of our happy customers’ (@lifeoferind) eyes sparkle of joy as Erin’s wearing her Triangle Scarf!
It’s just so neat to see that people actually love and wear the clothes that I make for them. I’m always a bit worried that people might like their headbands and scarves when they buy them but then they end of up at the bottom of their sock drawer. Being able to look at your photos makes me so happy because it means that you’re getting good use out of your accessories!

Finally, do you see this Facebook album above? Each photo that I receive is being posted in that album. Just send it to me via e-mail (mapleandoakdesigns@hotmail.com), Facebook, Instagram (@mapleandoak) or even just hashtag it #mapleandoak. Every now and then I will also post on of your photos on my Instagram. I’m already looking forward to getting a glimpse of my designs in your photos!

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

Sam + Emily wedding photo: Chris Montgomery

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Belts and Ponchos

Belts and Ponchos

red walkstoff poncho

Sometimes the right timing is everything. This March I launched my ‘Walkstoff Collection’, a collection of ponchos and capes from a traditional felted fabric that I brought back with me from my latest trip to Germany. If you like to know more about ‘Walkstoff’ you can read about it here. While I was in the process of designing that collection, I shared a hotel room with Freyja of Fehu Leather in Toronto during a wholesale artisan show. She makes beautiful belts and cuffs from naturally dyed leather. Of course we did what you do after long show hours – drinking wine and chatting about our current projects. So when I told her about the poncho collection, we realized how well felted wool and hand dyed leather go together and even better: how awesome you can style a poncho with a belt! About a month later we met up and did just that.

Let me introduce you to the outfits:

1. We paired the dark grey/black polka dot poncho with a wide braided belt that hangs low on your hips and a black cuff with gold leaf accents. Very stylish, perfect for your glamping trips this summer. Don’t forget that May long is coming up soon! All of Canada will be outside and this little number will keep you warm despite the sometimes chilly temperatures.

felted poncho and leather belt

I’m especially in love with the black and gold leather cuff. Have you ever seen anything like it?

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2. The red roses poncho was asking for something a little lighter. We decided to style it with a skinny wrap around belt in a tan colour around the waist and a matching bracelet with sweet rose quartz beads. This ensemble is definitely on the bolder side but we just love the elegant floral details in pink and green. Honestly, I would wear this look anywhere, anytime!

fehu belt and maple and oak poncho

3. Basically the same idea but the light grey poncho with dusty pink roses and white polka dots has a lot subtler quality to it. Styled with a medium width braided belt in grey and a wrap around bracelet in a tan colour with light grey gem stone beads, it looks classy and fun at the same time. I can imagine wearing it to the office (if I worked in an office which required me to dress in something else than the PJ’s I wear in my home office.) or a garden party in the evening – you will look stunning while staying warm.

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You can see that we just folded parts of the poncho to the back, so it stays flat underneath the belt and doesn’t get too bulky. Both, ponchos and belts are a one size fits all and will look good on women of different sizes.

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4. This blue poncho with green polka dots looks amazing if you’ve got blue or green eyes. Talk about a pop of colour! We matched it with a slim tan-coloured wrap belt and a tan-coloured wrist cuff with silver highlights to counter balance the vibrant blue.

blue poncho, leather belt

I’m really impressed by how you can dress up these ponchos effortlessly with some simple (but gorgeous) leather belts and wrist accessories. There’s just something about the combination of wool and leather, something almost archaic. Something that seems to be deeply ingrained in human nature. Well, I like it!

blue poncho, tan belt

And for those of you who just can’t get enough of looking at these ponchos and belts, here’s a little video that Freyja made with our photos!

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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Vintage Candy + Headbands

Vintage Candy + Headbands

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Meet the lovely Dannah of Sweet – Canada’s Sweet Shop! We first met at the Millarville Farmer’s Market and then ran into each other a couple of times at various markets all over Alberta until we ended up being booth neighbours at a wholesale show in Toronto. She bought a couple of my Rockabilly Headbands and I always admired her super vintage style. Instafriends! And she makes candy, I mean, CANDY – who doesn’t love candy? Not that that’s a criteria for becoming my friend but you know, a little candy does make friendship a whole lot more fun.

So last week I visited her in her kitchen in Strathmore, where all the magic happens. She showed me how to make coconut brittle, my all-time-favourite.

The first step to making super yummy gluten-free candy is mixing sugar and corn syrup. This all goes into a huge pot which reminded me a lot of a cauldron. It took a while for the sugar to melt and get hot, so we had time to chat a little. She started her business in the summer of 2012 but it all really began way back when she was a teenager helping her mom make peanut brittle which they were selling at that time. Working on those family recipes was always something that Dannah enjoyed and after graduating high school it didn’t take too long for her to decide that turning those heirloom recipes into a proper business was what she wanted to do with her life. Oh, quick, let’s add the fresh coconut!

I never realized that making candy could be so physically challenging but, oh my, things are heavy and get hot. You wouldn’t believe that a slender person like Dannah would be able to do it all on her own but she still does all the cooking herself. She hired a couple of local ladies to help her with the packaging as that’s a step that is quite time-consuming and she has lots of orders to fill every week. At the beginning she sold only at local farmer’s markets but the demand grew quickly and now she’s selling through gift stores all over Canada.

Oh and the fresh coconut brittle, I swear, I ate so much my belly started to ache. Dannah says her main motivation to start her candy business was so she could eat as much candy as she wanted every day. Now that’s what I call goals!

maple and oak canada's sweet shop

Thank you so much for letting me visit and learn how to make candy, Dannah. You are a sight for sore eyes in your vintage dresses and you absolutely rock my Rockabilly Headbands. If you want to look as stunning as Dannah, just click on the link to get your hands on one of my Rockabilly Headbands!

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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What is Walkstoff?

What is Walkstoff?

felt ponchos

When I launched my ‘Walkstoff’ collection a couple of weeks ago, I got a lot of positive feedback. People just love my two poncho designs and are really intrigued by the fabric that I used. It didn’t come as a great surprise to me as ‘Walkstoff’ is a woollen fabric that is really hard to come by in North America.

It is traditionally manufactured in a couple of European countries from Northern Italy to Scandinavia. England, Scotland and Ireland developed similar techniques as well. In general this kind of fabric and its relatives have been used for centuries to make functional outerwear to keep you warm against a windy mountain climate or rough and humid ocean weather. Everyone who was fascinated by my latest collection realized that the fabric was somehow related to felt, boiled wool or loden. To make things easier for you, I will briefly explain the difference between those three fabrics and ‘Walkstoff’.

Felted fabric
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Felting is what my friend Carly of Folly a Tet does. She takes fibres from raw wool and works them with either needles or her hand in soapy water so the fibres get all twisted and tangled and turn into a fabric. The fibres are combed before she starts working with them but they’re never woven, spun or knitted.

Boiled wool, Fulling, Loden
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Boiled wool, fulled wool or loden fabrics are basically the same. The fibres are first spun, then loosely woven and finally fulled or walked in hot water. It makes for a really dense, strong fabric that keeps its shape which makes it really easy to sew with. If you think of the German stereotype of a man in Lederhosen or a woman in her Dirndl-dress and a huge jug of beer in their hands, the jacket you picture them wearing is made from loden fabric.

Walkstoff

Walkstoff

Last but not least – ‘Walkstoff’ the fabric I brought with me from my last Germany trip. It is also 100% wool that is spun and then knitted before it’s finally felted or rather walked in cold water. This is done so the tiny fibres essentially glue together to create a luxurious but sturdy fabric. Because it was knitted first, it is significantly stretchier and lighter than boiled wool.

I chose to turn my stash of ‘Walkstoff’ into ponchos because ponchos are just the best for camping in Canada and the fabric will make you feel comfortably warm on a chilly summer night. And for those of you who think the fabric is too precious to wear it camping, don’t be afraid. You can easily spot clean that ketchup stain with a wet cloth and just hang it outside over night to get rid of the camp fire smoke!

Poncho

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below or just shoot me an email at mapleandoakdesigns@hotmail.com.

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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Source: http://optik-sport-shop.at/outdoor-wissen/loden/materialunterschiede

Funk up your dining room! Pink and black tie dye table cloth

Funk up your dining room! Pink and black tie dye table cloth

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We’ve been very lucky this winter and it seems like spring already arrived. (Fingers crossed, knock on wood…) Unfortunately, here in Calgary it always takes a while for the beautiful spring blossoms to bloom. So I decided to do something about the drab colours around here and funk up my dining room!

Every now and then someone asks me if they can donate their vintage fabrics to me as I use them for my Maple And Oak accessory line. This time the lovely Lindsay of Cinder & Sage who makes the loveliest vintage inspired jewellery, had a couple of old ties, table cloth and napkins for me. They were white but had a few irremovable food stains on them. What to do?

Well, I used fabric dye & fabric spray paint to transform them into the funkiest table cloth. Pink, black and gold. Such a seriously fun colour combination! So, how did I do it?

  • Make sure you’ve got everything you need: Table cloth, fabric napkins, fabric dye & fabric spray paint (I used the brand Tulip that you can get at Michael’s), salt, a big pot (I used my wok), elastics, cardboard, scissors and a pencil.
  • Use the elastic to tie your fabric in half. I took the middle of the fabric and had the four corners hang to the ground, so my fabric looked like cute little ghosts. That way the dye will create a circle in the middle of the big fabric square.
  • Heat up some water on your stove and dissolve the salt (look for exact amounts on your fabric dye package). Add one colour of the dye. Of course I had to start with my favourite colour: pink!
  • Dunk one side of the fabric into the dye, approximately up to the elastic. After about 30 to 45 minutes, take the fabric out and rinse it with cold water. Also rinse the pot well.
  • And do the same with the other colour and other half of the fabric.

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Oh, yummy: Fabric-dye soup! Every once in a while I stirred the whole thing and moved the fabric around so the dye would get into all the nooks and crannies.

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Once everything is rinsed and clean, hang your table cloth and napkins to dry. Make sure to wring out the fabric well so you don’t have all colourful water drip over your floors. Doesn’t this already look super neat?

While your fabric is drying, you’ve got some time to think about what you want to do next and prepare everything. I wanted to spray little golden hearts into the corners of my table cloth and napkins. Obviously, I needed stencils. So I drew a big and a small heart onto my piece of cardboard and cut them out. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Once your fabric is dry, I suggest you move your work space into the great outdoors as the spray paint stinks pretty bad and you don’t want to give yourself a headache. The next steps are as easy as it looks:

  • Take your spray can, shake it well.
  • Place the stencil where you want your decorations to be.
  • Spray. My cardboard was pretty small, so some of the paint went over the cardboard but I figured that you can never have too much gold or glitter! If you don’t think so, just use a bigger cardboard to prevent the colour from ending up where you don’t want it.
  • Aaaand, let it dry again! Done.

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I’m really excited with how my table cloth turned out, the whole dining room looks so much brighter! As I’m not using the napkins everyday, I used one of them as a mini table cloth for a little side table. So, so pretty. One more thing: you might want to iron your table cloth and napkins as they get pretty crinkled and wrinkled during the whole procedure.

Now, I just need to find a reason to invite all my friends over and have a dinner party. I hope you enjoyed my little project & if you tried it as well: how did your turn out? I’d really like to see!

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With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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From army coats to vintage headbands

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From army coats to vintage headbands

I first touched a sewing machine when I was about 10 years old in crafts class in school. I remember that it was a lot of fun. After I had learned how to use the machine properly, my mom would finally let me use hers at home. She cherishes her machine and I had seen her make several carnival costumes (kind of like a German Halloween) and clothes for me and my little brother with it. Often, she used recycled fabrics like the striped fabric in the photos which once was an apron my grandma wore when volunteering for the Red Cross.

Later, she even taught other women how to make Waldorf dolls with her machine. I just thought it was so amazing how you can turn a simple piece of fabric into something really cool with the help of a sewing machine so easily. I remember making a bib-top pinafore dress from a purple gingham fabric. It was hideous but I loved it. Hopefully, I will find it again one day. Unfortunately, puberty hit at some point and even though I was still known for my eccentric style, I didn’t pursue sewing for any longer.

My great-aunt on my Dad’s side had to move into a nursing home in 2011 and I helped clearing out her house. One of the things I found was an old Singer sewing machine from the 1970’s. It was mint green and still working. Well, at least for a couple of days until I spent 7 hours sewing in a row on a rainy January Saturday and it literally exploded or imploded. Boom. There was this loud bang, smoke coming out of the motor and it was dead. If I had known back then that I would still be sewing today and even had a thriving design and sewing business, I’d definitely had taken a picture and wouldn’t have gotten rid of it before moving to Canada.

My mom wasn’t the only woman in my family who was an avid seamstress. My grandma made a lot of her own clothes in the 1970’s and 1980’s. When I started sewing again in 2011, she gave me a bunch of fabric that was left over from her projects. That was my first time sewing with vintage fabrics and I immediately fell in love with it. There is just something about the patterns and the stories that come with vintage fabrics.

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The step from vintage fabrics to recycled fabrics wasn’t far. I soon started ripping up seams and turning old dresses, sweaters, shirts, sheets and really anything that had a great pattern into headbands and scarves. I didn’t know until I talked to my Grandma about my using recycled fabrics that also that had been done in my family before. My grandfather’s mother, my great-grandmother turned old army coats into dresses after the Second World War when everything was destroyed and everything was scarce. I don’t know if she sold them to support the family or if she just made them so her family had something to wear but I think it’s pretty awesome and somehow pictures of Marlene Dietrich in a uniform-dress pop up in my mind. How stylish is that?

So today I am carrying on that legacy that I wasn’t even aware existed. Funny how that works sometimes, isn’t it? Who knows, maybe I listened to someone talk about reclaimed fabrics when I was young or maybe it was just watching my mom sew that sparked my passion. Who knows. That’s why history is so fascinating, we live it without even knowing.

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With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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Photos of me and my studio: Logee Photography
Photo of vintage sewing machine: possumjimandelizabeth

A Handmade Travel Guide: Japan

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Bamboo Forest in Kyoto.
A Handmade Travel Guide: Japan

Last fall we had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Japan with my friend Chika and her partner Riley. She grew up in Japan, in Nara close to Osaka where her family still lives. You might have heard about her before as she’s a fantastic illustrator: Chika Ando Illustrations. The trip felt very Japanese indeed with only one at most two days in the same place. Her uncle has a condo in Osaka that we were able to use as a home base, which was so generous and lovely. I can’t thank Chika and her family enough, they really made us feel welcome and we got a real experience with the locals. I won’t be able to mention everything we did in those two weeks but I will tell you about the things that impressed me most.

Our first stop was Kyoto and I must say, it was also one of the most stunning places. Every city or area in Japan is known for something specific. Kyoto is known for its temples. The Golden Temple was so shiny. It’s covered from top to bottom in leaf gold and must be polished all the time. We walked through it’s picturesque park with koi carps swimming in ponds and little statues for different kinds of good luck. This was all the Zen I needed after the long flight and 15 hour time difference.

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Japanese people take a lot of pride in their souvenirs and handmade gifts. Like everywhere else but even a little bit more so, it’s a good advice to never show up empty handed when you have been invited to something. We took the train to get from A to B and at one of the train stops in Kyoto, there were the cutest shops selling the cutest purses, pouches and handkerchiefs from the most adorable fabrics. Fun fact: There are no paper towels or hand dryers in public washrooms in Japan, everyone carries their own handkerchief. I really liked that idea because it’s so environmentally friendly. Just think of all the trees that get chopped down and energy wasted just because we’re too lazy to carry a handkerchief. Plus, they’re just too cute!

The next morning we stumbled upon a Hello Kitty! store and I didn’t want to leave. It’s so cheesy but also so darling. The Japanese are so good at so many things, but, oh boy, are they ever good at making the cutest things! And creepy things, especially cute AND creepy.

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One of the things that were really memorable in Kyoto are the Toei Eigamura Film Studios. It really seemed to be a popular destination amongst Japanese people but we didn’t see many tourists there. We watched a ninja stage fight, went through a house full of ninja booby traps, hung out with a geisha and saw life sized anime figurine. Hell yeah! So if you want to go a bit off the beaten path, I highly recommend it.

One of the things that my husband really wanted to visit was Mount Fuji. But, oh no, it was the one rainy day of our trip and no Mount Fuji was visible when we arrived.

We stayed the night in a traditional hotel called Riokan. At first you think something is wrong with the room as there is no bed. And the chairs don’t have legs so you basically sit on the floor while having tea and later dinner. Dinner was an amazing affair with over 12 courses but all so small that we didn’t feel too full. After a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs, we really started to wonder where the beds were…they were futons in the wardrobe! The hotel staff would come to your room and set up the futons for you with an immaculate precision. Oh, sweet sleep!

As we were still in the grip of jet-lag, we got up at 5am and there it was: glorious Mount Fuji. Seriously, how can a mountain look so mountainy?

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Our next destination was Tokyo. Oh, what a change of pace! While we were still enjoying the aftermath of our spa day in Fuji, the business and hectic speed of people in Tokyo came as a bit of a shock. It was an astonishing experience non-the-less.

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We ate at a Maid’s cafe where cute but pretty fake Japanese girls make you say weird things and sprinkle magic into your food before you’re allowed to eat it. Creepy men sit lonely at tables and seem to be regular customers and you (well, at least I did) just wonder how that can all be real. We walked through Akihabarar, the digital entertainment district, spent a long time in a 5 story cartoon/comic store and played fun games in a gaming arcade. I’m not much of a gamer but dancing to the rhythm of lights and playing huge drums are fun!

Of course I had to go shopping and try to find some indie stores. The Harajuku district is famous for its high end retail stores in buildings that look like a plaid shirt or as if a crack is going through its foundations. What I found most interesting though, was that it wasn’t all fancy-schmancy stores. We found a super cool tattoo parlour, a shop that sells uncountable stickers with designs of their resident artists, a store with the most beautiful hats ever (oh, so gorgeous!) and a couple of Kawaii-style boutiques that were rather a disappointment after all I had dreamed them up to be. Maybe I’m also too old to appreciate the value of tacky plastic pins that are clearly made in China.

One thing that was as fascinating as it sounds is the Tokyo Fish Market. This is where I had the freshest sushi in my life and found some gorgeous pottery. I’m a sucker for pottery, so how could I have left Japan without at least one bowl, two new tumblers and lots of gifts for friends and family?

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The fresh sea food, the spices, the weird dried fish from microscopic small to huge squid, I wanted to try them all and learn what they’re used for. But this was Tokyo and we wanted to see so much more!

Back in Osaka, we ate some more delicious food in the old, historical part of town where we stayed. Some nights we hit 2 or 3 restaurants just because we wanted to try them all and the beauty of Japanese food is, that it’s often isakaya or tapas-style food so it is actually a good idea to do some bar-hopping.

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Chika and me and our new hats.
It was also in Osaka that we sang Karaoke after wandering around town with a couple of drinks. It’s allowed to drink outside and on trains, so that was very handy to get rid of my Karaoke-nerves. I didn’t have to be nervous at all though! Karaoke there is so different from the Western version. We had a room with a comfy couch, some rhythmic instruments and a big tv with a never-ending song-list all for ourselves. We didn’t take any videos as per my request which I definitely regretted afterwards. So there’s no proof of me and Guillaume giving an excellent rendition of Motörheads’ “Ace of Spades”. Maybe, just maybe, it’s also better this way…

If you’re into arts and I’m just assuming that because you’re reading my blog, you should save some time in your travel schedule for the island of Naoshima.

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The island of Naoshima is an island dedicated entirely to the arts. There are numerous museums and exhibitions. You can take shuttle buses to get from one place to the next but they don’t go all the time and are sometimes very crowded. We didn’t know better so that’s what we did and unfortunately we couldn’t visit everything we would have liked to because we ran out of time as we had to catch the last ferry back to the mainland. Next time, we’ll definitely rent a bike and cycle around the island as we saw some people do. It looked like so much fun! There are also campsites where you can rent a tent, so maybe an over-night stay would be an interesting option as well.

I’ve been keeping the best for last: our visit at Chika’s parents. Her mom dressed me in one of her Kimonos which was such an honour! Kimonos are really expensive, so pretty and consist of a lot more layers that visible to the naked eye. They’re not comfortable to wear and I’m honestly impressed by how natural Japanese women can do everything in them with the two-toed socks and geta (Japanese flip flops). Then her mom held a short tea ceremony for us and explained it all afterwards. I really started to love matcha tea on that trip. The green colour is mesmerizing and a matcha latte is very scrumptious.

The rest of the evening was spent exchanging gifts. Chika’s mom and sister really loved the headbands I gave them and we just adore the hand-sewn quilted pouches and framed paper-art flower they made for us. Did I say earlier that the sushi we had in Tokyo was the best? Let me correct myself: the homemade sushi and roast beef-like dish with sesame sauce were a delight. Oh, I just couldn’t stop eating! Domo Arigato!

If you ever have a chance to visit relatives who live in another country or have a friend who invites you to go to their home country with them, do it. It will help you see so much more of that country than you would as just an ordinary tourist and make your trip so much more satisfying than travelling already is.

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The photos were taken by Guillaume, my husband. If you like his style, you can follow him @blueshelfphoto on Instagram.

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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Maple And Oak video tutorials: How to tie a Rockabilly Headband

Maple And Oak video tutorials: How to tie a Rockabilly Headband

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Ooooohhhh! I made my first video!!! (You can find it at the end of this post and also subscribe to my Youtube Channel.)

Because so many of you always ask me at markets how to tie the Rockabilly headband, I decided to make a video tutorial. Of course you can also read the already existing “step by step guide” which you can find here: How to tie a Rockabilly Headband.

In this video I will show you how to tie the Rockabilly headband into a square knot (or as some people call it: reef knot) so you look as gorgeous as Rosie the Riveter!

There are two important things I forgot to mention in the video (please forgive me – it was my first video and I was very nervous):

  1. Never ever tie a headband too tight. You want it to sit comfortably on your head without giving you a headache.
  2. Always cover the top of your ears with the headband. It just looks better.

Thanks so much for watching – I hope this helps!

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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Handmade Love: My top 15 Canadian must-haves this holiday season

Handmade Love: My top 15 Canadian must-haves this holiday season

I love shopping local and shopping handmade. The best part of participating regularly in handmade shows is getting to know all those wonderful makers from all over Canada and seeing the progress in their work. To give you a little glimpse into the maker community, I compiled a list of my favourite products at the moment. Maybe you recognize a couple of my friends whose work I talked about before, maybe you discover something completely new. One thing is for sure, they all put a lot of effort, passion and love into their work to give you the best they can. Here they are, my top 15 Canadian must-haves this holiday season:

1. Majesty Industries: “Harry Potter”-themed travel pouches made from vegan leather

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2. Mumble Tease: A silk-screened glow in the dark “Man in the moon”-shirt

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3. Sophiori: Sugar Skull Earrings made from polymer clay

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4. Element Botanicals: Illuminati Luminous Lotion – a natural BB cream

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5. Love Making Designs: A silk-screened sweater with a squirrel on the sleeve, mountains on the pouch and a bearded lumberjack with butterfly on the back

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6. Mint and Daisy: Moisturizing ginger-snap bath bombs

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7. Sweet Living Company: Grapefruit and Lavender Luxury cleanser made with heirloom recipes

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8. Chika Ando: A FUCK IT pillow

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9. Sparky Jones Accessories: A Tom Pom hat made with reclaimed + vintage fabrics

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10. Folly a Tet: A soap covered with felt

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11. Salty Sea Dog Designs: A mug with tentacles

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12. Illuminati Glassworks: A mermaid clock

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13. Sugar Soul: A tweet cloche

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14. Les Creations D’ana: A geometric necklace made from recycled vinyl record and leave gold

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15. Laura Vanderlinde pottery: colourful parfait bowls

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I could have kept on adding more and more fantastic small businesses and their products to this list, there are so many brilliant things out there. What’s your handmade must-have this holiday season and where is it from?

With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,

❤ Leonie❤

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