Friday, 7 July 2017

A Little Detour

It's been awhile since we last shared any DIY projects here at Obachan chi's. I have missed sharing what we have been up too. But in all honesty I've had to personally slow down from any physical activities that would strain myself because our family will be welcoming a precious baby into our family from early August. I know a lot of you have been checking in from time to time to see what we have been up too. Thank you for your interest and support in all that we are doing at the little farmhouse to give it the love and care it deserves. It still remains a labour of love for our family.

But of course when things had settled down with my baby bump I couldn't help but complete just one project......

It goes without saying that we are very happy with our little kitchen at Obachan chi's. Happy that we relocated it from the back of the house to the front and also happy that we kept it's construction simple and I guess quite minimalistic for our use. However there was always something not quite finished or right.


After leaving it for awhile and thinking about it for a long time, I finally cracked open my tin of paint and started painting with my assistant, who was more happy to help with the process.

And I am here to say that I am very pleased with the results, because now the legs of the kitchen bench just blend in with the lower black walls.

The Easter bunny even delivers to Izu!
Apart from this simple update we have been taking it easy at the farmhouse and just enjoying time together rather than trying to tackle too many DIY projects. Of course there is still much to do, but sometimes you just need to slow down and enjoy the local area and all it has to offer.

Summer oranges ready for jams and sorbet!

One thing we like to do on the first morning after we arrive is to take a walk to our Yorimichi market where local farmers and businesses sell their goods from seasonal fruit and vegetables to home baked breads, cakes and Japanese sweets. On this particular morning during the season of Spring we were greeted by this beautiful display of cherry blossoms that line the river bank.

An attraction that the local community has started to draw in tourists to stop and enjoy the area is life- like paper mache people set up in typical Japanese activities. Like below where children like to pay festival games with balloons. Can you see my assistant amongst these children?

And again, a scene of a family enjoying the outdoors with my assistant joining them!


The pace of country life in Obachan chi's town really makes you slow down, unwind and enjoy the simple things in life, which is the big attraction for many who visit. We are now enjoying the season of Summer and with many days spent at the beach and the cool waters at local rocks pools.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Tea chest treasure

Quite some time ago I acquired some free furniture from a local road side collection held in Obachan's little town. I shared what I did with the metal chairs I gave a second life to here. I also kept secret about the other old treasure I happily brought home to Obachan chi's. While I promised to share what it was, it has taken me some time to actually get to this quite easy DIY project. So what did I pick-up and have wanted for the longest time? Well, it's my very own chadansu, tea chest. I almost bought one many years ago for quite a some of money, but I held off and walked away from it. In the meantime it has always been on my wish list. 

As you can see this chadansu has seen better days and is in need of a good sand and wax. The sliding glass to the upper half are missing and so are the draws at the bottom. But this didn't put me off taking it home and giving it some love.

If you are interested in chadansu's you will know that each one can be so different and enchanting in their designs. This humble tea chest's interesting feature as you can see is this curved shelf. It's nothing fancy, but it has obviously done a good job all these years in someone's home. 

On this beautiful autumn day I felt it was time to give my chadansu a face lift.

So I pulled it outside and sanded it with a 120 grit paper because I wanted to go easy on the timber.

I pulled the lower sliding doors off and felt a bit hesitant to sand them due to their wooden pattern. Would I ruin it?


In the end I went for it and plowed my sander across the doors, crossing my fingers that I  had done the right thing. The left-hand side is sanded and wax, while the right-hand side has just been sanded waiting for some tinted wax.  I like to believe that I gave the doors some moisture and am happy with the results.

Next job was to lie the cupboard down and give the whole thing a wipe over with wax.


Here is the top before sanding.........                                          ....and after a sand and wax.

I know that our kitchen walls are not all finished. That plastic sheeting isn't really saying Japanese farmhouse style, but I just couldn't wait to share my little chadansu with all the things we have collected so far. Let's imagine that it is a white wall above my chadansu and when it actually does happen, I will be very happy to share!

Traditionally you would display all your tea cups, teapots and patterned tea canisters, but this little chadansu needs to be more flexible at Obachan chi's. It does a mighty job holding all our china and it is such a joy to use after waiting it's turn for a make-over. I'm still on the look out for some type of woven rectangular baskets for the missing draws at the bottom. At the moment I'm not in a hurry because isn't the hunt all part of the fun!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Autumn has come

Autumn has come a bit later this year due to numerous typhoons passing by little old Japan.

In the process they have brought much rain, high levels in rivers and streams and many, many spiders. On our recent trip to the town of Matsuzaki and in particular Obachan chi's  little farm house, we had numerous spiders set up their webs, which for some would be considered annoying.

Juro-gumo (wasp spider)
However, I can't help remembering what my own mother always says, "It is a shame to knock down a web, that has taken a little spider so much time and energy." 
So I let them be for the time being.

Mother and spiderling connecting their web to our rain-chain

These hard working spiders also made me remember our summer holidays just past and our visit to the nearby, Joren Falls which are part of the Izu Penisula.  

Apart from the waterfall you are also surrounded by healthy wasabi growing happily in the shade of cool running streams.

It was hard to resist sampling vanilla ice-cream with a dollop of freshly grated wasabi. A unique and interesting experience, I believe all should try, even just once!

Upon walking down to the falls there is a local folklore story about the 'Joro-gumo', (Wasp spider) the same spider that had set up camp at Obachan chi's and I imagine many other parts around Japan. The story goes that a farmer sitting near the water fall had a juro-gumo mistake his leg for a branch, after disturbing it and placing it on a branch the earth shook and the branch was dragged into the waterfall. It goes on to tell of a similar story of a lumberjack dropping his hatchet in the waterfall and a beautiful woman appearing to return it to him. Sworn to secrecy never to tell anyone what he had seen, or it would mean certain death. After some time had passed and the lumberjack had moved villages, he ended up drinking a little too much and let the secret out, which resulted in him closing his eyes and never waking up again.

One beautiful autumn morning we took a walk to the local yorimichi, local market.  We always enjoy walking down this path that is lined with cherry blossom trees now sleeping and which over-hang the stream below.


We passed numerous rice paddy fields and watched as the farmers harvested their crops. 

These bags of freshly hulled rice are, I suspect, for ones home and/or gifts to family and friends for the coming winter. Wouldn't that be a nice gift to receive!


And we check-in on the locals who live a happy existence being well cared for in a small stream.

Visiting our local community cafe for lunch we are always greeted with a warm smile and a cup or two of Izu green tea, which is always beautifully and thoughtfully presented with a seasonal leaf to rest your hand cloth on. It really is in the detail, isn't it. 

We love this town of Matsuzaki.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

From door to table

Up-cycling one thing into another is something I take great joy in doing. The thought that I can give an object new life and purpose is truly rewarding for me. So when we scored two doors from a demolished house in our local area, I had ideas for them. This is how our doors looked known as the mon or gate to a house before they were removed. Not every house in Japan has these gates, which makes them all the more special. 

Source: Ebina City Official Website

With my trusty sander I set to work and removed years of dirt and dust.

Take a look at this...before & after!

A good sanding underneath...

Here is the front door key, which I don't have the heart to remove because it's the details that we love at Obachan chi's. Just need to be careful when we sit down I guess!

We bought some very affordable black metal table legs from Ikea and simply attached them.

                                                  And then we put it all together!

It's turned out to be a large and useful farmhouse table which doubles as extra bench space when preparing meals.

The wood grain has really come up well by using the same varnish as the floors.

 And it has been wonderful to now enjoy all our meals at a large kitchen table.

The other door was going to re-purposed into a bench seat, but things change and ideas come to me at odd times. Ideas, ideas....yes, I have ideas to use the other door as a barn style door. So I will definitely share details when it's done!

 It's time to now enjoy the persimmons we were given by our neighbours and some kusa mochi (compressed rice cakes) from our local market.

Have you ever up-cycled an item for another use? Do share! 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Wisdom of the rice farmer

I don't think I truly appreciated just how moist this country was until I had to work with it hands on. I mean water flows everywhere!

If you have been with us from the beginning of this journey you will know that we have been tackling the flow of water on the farmhouse. It has been a priority!

Our newest idea to direct the water flow into the main drain is something that your local rice farmer knows about all too well. The idea came to us on a walk to the local market one morning, as we talked about how to direct the water away from the side of the house. The previous work we have completed is working so well, but this next project with water seeping out in all different places was a different story. So we thought that we'd give this idea a go. The rice farmers seem to be successful with keeping water in their rice paddy, maybe we could keep it out!

This is the side of the house where we dug up the tree hedge and then dug a trench all along the side of the property where the water flows constantly. Thank goodness this water flows on only one side of the property! The product we used comes in two different sizes of what looks like corrugated iron in rolls, but its composition is actually rubber. So we just rolled it out and pushed it into the ground and packed dirt and rocks on either sides to secure it.

During the rainy season it held up pretty well during heavy rain. So this is yet another water post that I hope will stand the test of far so good!