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The Garden of Words

We recently watched a Japanese anime film directed by Makoto Shinkai called “The Garden of Words”.  We were blown away by the gorgeous artwork, landscapes and imagery depicted in the film!  It was extra special for us because most of the film takes place in the beautiful “Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden" which we visited last year when we traveled to Tokyo!  As soon as the main character Takao entered the park, we recognized it immediately and got excited….isn’t it special when you’ve visited a place from a beloved movie or television show?  Don’t even get me started on how excited I was when we visited "Stars Hollow" on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour since "Gilmore Girls" is my favourite show of all time!

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We thought we would share some photos that Ryan took from our Tokyo trip when we visited these beautiful gardens in case any of you have seen the film or are planning to see it!  Here are the gates upon entering the park…

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The garden is incredibly lush and it was so relaxing just walking along the paths.

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We saw many artists who would sit and draw or paint the landscapes before them.  It was neat peeking over the shoulders to see their work!

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These gardens are a popular spot during cherry blossom season- I can only imagine how breathtaking it would be….I hope to visit again one day to see the cherry blossoms all in bloom!

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We spent some time in this pagoda to soak in the scenery (it’s in the movie too!).  It’s hard to imagine that all of this lushness and peacefulness can be found right in the middle of the busy metropolis of Tokyo.  In this way, it kind of reminded me of New York City’s Central Park!

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Here I am walking along a little bridge that leads to a gazebo that plays a significant role in the movie!  I can’t believe we actually took pictures here….after watching the movie, we totally went back through our photos to see where exactly we had visited!

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This is the gazebo where the two main characters meet!  It just so happens that my brother Corey was resting here when Ryan snapped a photo, hehe :)  You can see this gazebo in the movie poster for “The Garden of Words” at the beginning of this post!

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Going to Tokyo was our “babymoon”, or our last trip before baby Myla came!  I was 5 months pregnant with our little sweet pea during this time….I can’t believe she will be 1 year old in about a week!  Just as everyone says, time really does fly by…

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We love traveling, and we often reminisce about our fun trip to Japan!  Japan is beautifully depicted in “The Garden of Words”, so do check it out if you come across it (it’s a super short movie at only 46 mins long)!  Apparently the backgrounds in the movie  were based on photographs of the park, and you can see how realistic and beautiful the animation is with this comparison HERE.  Have any of you visited Japan or visited the Shinjuku Gyoen National Park before?  If you’re planning a trip, you must stop by these gardens for a breath of fresh air and a chance to soak in some beautiful scenery!

Animethon 2013: Totoro Cosplay

It’s been our tradition over the past few years to attend the Animethon in August during the summer!  The first time I went, I was blown away by everyone’s costumes and enthusiasm!  I vowed to dress up the next year but I was pregnant and in my third trimester when August rolled around.  This year we decided it would be fun to do some sort of group costume, especially since it would be Myla’s first time :)  

We love Miyazaki’s classic “My Neighbor Totoro”, and I thought it would be so cute to dress Myla up as the sweet little girl “Mei”!  However, Myla does not like wearing hats (she rips them off right away) and she does not have much hair.  In addition, I knew it would be difficult finding the pieces necessary for Mei’s costume for a baby.  And so, I decided that I would dress up as Mei and Myla would be Totoro!  This is what Mei looks like in case you have not seen the movie!

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I excitedly began searching for the items in my Mei costume!  I needed a hat with red trim, red cherry ball hair accessories, a puffy white shirt, a red dress, yellow flats and a yellow cross-over bag!  I already had a white shirt and floppy straw hat, and I managed to get the rest of the items within one shopping trip!  Here is the breakdown of my outfit:

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I was the most excited to find the perfect red dress which was only $17 at Forever XXI!  The yellow purse was more expensive than I had hoped, but the shape was perfect and I knew that I would wear it in the future and not just for my costume…same with the flats, which turned out to be super comfortable!  My floppy straw hat from Superstore (Joe Fresh) was the wrong shape, but Ryan helped me cut it to make it more Mei-appropriate!  He also glued the edges to prevent it from fraying.  The hat also needed red trim so I crocheted a long red strip!

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I wanted to dress up as closely to Mei as possible, so we couldn’t forget the cute cherry balls that she wears in her hair!  We found this set of four ball hair ties at the dollar store- unfortunately there was no red, but I knew an easy solution: crochet around it with red yarn!

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I started off with the magic circle and crocheted round by round, measuring the piece to the ball as I continued.  The finished piece looked cylindrical, but it stretched snugly around the ball!

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When I was close to finishing I decreased around the end.

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Here are all the completed cherry balls!

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And here are the crocheted pieces of my costume: the red strip on my hat (which was not visible in the sneak peek so that was tricky!) and the cherry balls!

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For those of you who do not know what Totoro looks like, here is a picture!  His signature accessories are a leaf on his head and a black umbrella!

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And here is Myla and I cosplaying together as Mei and baby Totoro! There are two other handmade pieces in the picture below!  Ryan made Myla’s leaf headband out of felt last minute as we thought she needed some sort of accessory too.  He also cut and glued some plastic leaves together to make this massive Totoro leaf that was easily visible wherever we went!

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Here is our group costume together!  Ryan, my brother Corey and Myla are all Totoro’s!  At first we were going to make their Totoro t-shirts by adding felt to grey t-shirts, but we ended up buying them from a site called “Redbubble”- they have some great designs.  You can find Myla’s Totoro onesie here and the adult t-shirt here.  Be warned that if you order from Canada it can take quite a while for delivery though- I had ordered these pieces a month in advance and was worried they were not going to make it in time!  They took about 3 weeks to come in!

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Myla loved looking up at the big leaf!  Isn’t she a cute baby Totoro?

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Our Totoro family photo while taking a break for lunch!  You can see my cherry ball hair accessories well here too :)

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It was neat seeing everyone’s costumes and how much effort they put into them!  

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Master Chief was standing in front of us in line as we were registering. Myla was very intrigued by his costume.

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Walking around the vendor’s hall we came across some Naruto cosplayers.  I looove Naruto although I am quite behind in the anime- the storylines and characters are so amazing!

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Legend of Zelda cosplayers!  ”Ocarina of Time” is still my favourite video game, and Link will always be dear to my heart :)

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Ryan and I are also watching “Attack on Titan” as we heard so many good things about it.  It’s always special seeing people dress up from an anime that you recognize or are currently watching!  The maneuver gear looks so cool and the Titan looks pretty scary o_0

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Here we are lining up to see the cosplay contest!  There was so much for Myla to look at!

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Myla was getting tired so we took her to a quieter location for some peace.  She ended up taking a nap in her stroller during the actual contest!

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Everyone loved Myla’s costume and it was cute seeing people recognize who we were when they looked first at Myla or at me.  We had a fun time and we can’t wait for next year!  Our dream is to go to Comic-Con in San Diego one year or the Anime Expo in Los Angeles :)  It would be awesome participating in something like our Animethon but on a bigger scale!  Have any of you ever been?  What is your favourite anime? 

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Hope you enjoyed reading about our Animethon experience and how we put together our costumes and added some touches of crochet!  And thank you to our friend Herman who came with us to the Animethon and took some of the photos in this blog post (the ones with Ryan!) :D

Minnie Mouse Ears Headband

I am a HUGE Disney fan and I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve been to Disneyland and Disney World as my parents used to take our family very frequently during our summer vacations.  Thankfully, Ryan is ALSO a big Disney fan and we actually went to Disney World during part of our honeymoon two years ago!  We wore our Cinderella and Prince Charming ”Just Married” pins wherever we went and had a very magical time :)

When we were planning our family trip to Tokyo this past June, we knew we HAD to pay Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea a visit as they were very highly rated.  Part of the fun of going to Disney parks is getting into the Disney spirit, so I thought I would crochet a special set of Minnie Mouse ears that I could wear during our visits to the theme parks!

I picked up a set of Goody headbands that I could crochet around.  The “no-squeeze” tips of these headbands were quite comfy, but of course any headband would do for this project!  The little teeth at the top of the headband also provided some grip for the crochet stitches later on…

Materials:

  • headband
  • worsted weight yarn in black and red
  • 3.5 mm crochet hook

Here is a step-by-step picture tutorial I made showing you how to crochet around a headband!  I used pink yarn for this tutorial so it would show up better on camera, but for my actual headband I used black yarn.

This is what my actual black headband with black yarn looked like as I was crocheting around it:

Next I crocheted my mouse ears!  I actually crocheted four round circles… 

Ears (make 4)

R1: 6 sc in Magic Ring (6 sts)

R2: 2 sc in each sc around (12 sts)

R3: *Sc 1, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 6 times (18 sts)

R4: *Sc 2, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 6 times (24 sts)

R5: *Sc 3, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 6 times (30 sts)

R6: *Sc 4, 2 sc in next sc*, rep 6 times (36 sts)

R7: Sc 36

Finish off and leave long end for sewing.

I sewed two ears together (right sides facing outwards) to give the ears more thickness so they would not flop down or be as flimsy.  I sewed the two circles together by leaving the braided edges visible

Then I sewed the two thick black ears onto the headband.  Of course, you can always adjust the size of your ears if you want them to be bigger!  If you want to make a Mickey Mouse Headband, you can simply stop here :)

[Update: Some people have been asking me tips on how to attach the ears to the headband so the ears stand up straight!  I made sure to attach the ears to the headband by going through both loops of the single crochets of the headband with a good chunk of the ears (the whole single crochets of the last round of ears).  I connected about 5-6 single crochets of the ears (or as much as possible) with the headband so it had a steady base without flopping too much. I sewed together these parts multiple times to try and make it more secure too.]

Since I wanted a Minnie Mouse headband, the last part was Minnie’s delicate little bow!  Here is the pattern:

Bow:

Ch 11

R1: Starting in second chain from hook, Sc 10

R2-4: Ch 1.  Turn.  Sc 10

From there, single crochet up the right side of the resulting rectangle, across the top, down the left side and across the bottom, doing three single crochets in each corner.  Please see the bow picture from my slippers post HERE for clarification.  Scrunch the bow slightly and wrap yarn around the center.  Tie a couple knots and attach the bow to one of the ears on the headband.

And here is the finished product: my crocheted Minnie Mouse Ears Headband!

I was so incredibly excited to wear these ears in Tokyo Disneyland, and I knew I had to take a picture in front of the castle!

I had also previously purchased these Hello Kitty frames a couple days before in Shibuya, so I thought I would whip them out for a quick picture too.  Little red bows make everything so adorable!  It just so happened that both bows were positioned on the same side as well…

I thought I might as well share some photos of our visit to Tokyo Disneyland in this post too since most people are probably more familiar with the American Disney parks!  Tokyo Disneyland is extremely popular and can fill up very quickly.  Everyone was recommending that we visit during a weekday (trying to avoid weekends or holidays) and go as soon as the park opened.  There was already quite a line-up formed when we arrived early, and guests ran into the park as soon as they opened the doors!  A big difference between Tokyo Disneyland and other Disney parks is that their “World Bazaar" (their alternative to "Main Street") is covered by a glass Victorian-style conservatory roof to protect guests from rain and snow.

One of the most popular attractions in Tokyo Disneyland is “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt”, and it differs from the American versions because it uses a “trackless” ride system.  There is a master computer that generates random paths for the honey pots that you ride in, and since there are many different variations possible, apparently each journey through this ride is unique!  We really enjoyed this cute ride, and the technology was very cool!

This ride typically has one of the longest wait times in the park, so we ran to get a Fastpass for “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt” as soon as the park opened.  The park filled up so quickly that we were only allowed to get one fastpass for the whole entire day! 

Snacking on Disney treats is another highlight for us when visiting the parks!  While they did offer the typical churros, popcorn stands were everywhere and were extremely popular as it was common to see long line ups and many people carrying commemorative popcorn buckets.  Their variety of flavors was very unique and unlike those typically offered in North America!  We tried our best to sample most of the flavors :)  Just outside of Pooh’s Hunny Hunt was the honey popcorn

The soy sauce and butter popcorn had the longest line-up out of all the stands!

This flavor seemed to be the most popular, but we weren’t blown away by it…

Even though caramel popcorn was not a unique flavour, we had to buy some since it’s such a classic!

We ended up really liking the curry popcorn!  We loved eating Japanese curry on our trip, and the tasty savory flavour of this popcorn made it one of our favourites :)

Some more sweet popcorns that we tried included strawberry popcorn and milk tea popcorn.  Both were very good.  We love drinking milk tea, so the milk tea popcorn ended up being one of our favourites as well!  Overall, we had a fun time locating different popcorn stands and snacking on such a variety of flavours.

Another treat that I really loved in Tokyo Disneyland was their apple popsicle!  It was incredibly sweet and refreshing.  We snacked on this while waiting in line for an attraction called “Monsters Inc Ride and Go Seek" in which you use a flashlight to search for hidden monsters (making it different than the Monsters Inc ride in California Adventure).  We ended up waiting the longest for this popular ride (more than 1.5 hours) since all the fastpasses had been distributed early on…

Here are some more photos in front of the castle, taken with the Hipstamatic on my iPhone :)  I ♥ Disney!

Ryan and I in front of the castle…this trip brought back memories of our honeymoon two years ago!

My sister Ashley and I!  Ashley sported these little clip-on Winnie the Pooh ears she bought from Hong Kong Disneyland when we visited a couple years ago (I bought matching Piglet ears during that trip).  Don’t our dainty little ears look so cute?

Everyone visiting Tokyo Disneyland really got into the Disney spirit as the vast majority of guests were sporting some sort of Disney headwear.  I saw some people wearing hats like this one pictured below which I thought was hilariously cute!  The characters had massive heads with tiny little bodies in the back….it reminded me of amigurumi with the disproportionately large head and undersized extremities!

Many Japanese girls were wearing these oversized floppy bows and they looked incredibly kawaii!  I ended up buying this light pink polkadot bow headband (the bow is detachable) and sparkly red bow scrunchie to wear for future Disney trips.  I wasn’t sure if they were selling them in the American theme parks, so I thought I might as well pick these up as my Tokyo Disney souvenirs!

Tokyo Disneyland also had a baby gift store in Fantasyland and I saw this cute pajama dress that was very fitting since I was 21 weeks pregnant when we visited the parks in early June!  I didn’t end up buying it, but my parents bought an adorable Winnie the Pooh outfit for our baby :)  Even though I wasn’t able to go on some of the “high thrill” attractions because of my pregnancy, I still had a very fun time in Tokyo Disneyland with the yummy snacks, fun attractions and great shows.  I would love to visit again…if only it weren’t so far away!

The neighbouring park Tokyo DisneySea was VERY unique and unlike any Disney park we had visited before.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate when we visited this park the next day as it rained the whole time.  I can do a separate blog post on that park if anyone is interested!  We have many many photos from our Tokyo trip so perhaps I can do more travel blog posts in the future…

I hope you enjoyed this long post showing you how to crochet your own Minnie Mouse Ears Headband as well as our experiences in Tokyo Disneyland!  It’s neat being able to put your own touch on the iconic Mickey/Minnie Mouse Ears, and many people definitely did a double take when they saw me wearing this headband walking around the park.  It felt very special since I was the only one wearing these!  You can easily adapt this pattern to make different ears (e.g. yellow yarn for Winnie the Pooh, make triangle shapes for cat ears).  Try making these for your next Disney trip or even as a part of your Halloween costume!  Let me know how it goes, and I would love to see pictures :) 

I know there are other big Disney fans out there!  What are some of your favourite Disney rides and snacks?  I love “Peter Pan’s Flight”, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Indiana Jones Adventure”, and some of my all-time favourite snacks are the Dole Whip Float, honey-roasted almonds and blue raspberry slush!  Let me know in the comments below :)  You can follow me on facebook, twitter and instagram (@AllAboutAmi) for more updates as well!  Have a magical time making these ^-^

The blog will be quiet for a while as we travel to Tokyo, Japan!  Thank you so much to everyone who gave such thoughtful tips and recommendations for our trip!  Hopefully we’ll be able to get lots of inspiration for future projects, and we can’t wait to share our adventures with you when we get back :) 

The blog will be quiet for a while as we travel to Tokyo, Japan!  Thank you so much to everyone who gave such thoughtful tips and recommendations for our trip!  Hopefully we’ll be able to get lots of inspiration for future projects, and we can’t wait to share our adventures with you when we get back :) 

Hey everyone!  Guess where our travels are taking us next?  To JAPAN, the Land of the Rising Sun and where amigurumi originated!  We are incredibly excited as we will be leaving soon!  We will spend most of our time in Tokyo :)  Does anyone have recommendations on good places to eat and visit?  I would LOVE to get some tips from you and hear about some of your favourite places!  I would greatly appreciate it if you left a comment here, tweeted me or sent me an e-mail at all_about_ami@hotmail.com!  Thank you so much :)

Hey everyone!  Guess where our travels are taking us next?  To JAPAN, the Land of the Rising Sun and where amigurumi originated!  We are incredibly excited as we will be leaving soon!  We will spend most of our time in Tokyo :)  Does anyone have recommendations on good places to eat and visit?  I would LOVE to get some tips from you and hear about some of your favourite places!  I would greatly appreciate it if you left a comment here, tweeted me or sent me an e-mail at all_about_ami@hotmail.com!  Thank you so much :)

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