Next to Nishi-Ogikubo is a larger area that is one of my favorite places to visit, Kichijoji. It's serviced by a number of train lines including the Chuo line through Shinjuku and the Keio Inoshakira line through Shibuya. I often combine Kichijoji and Nishi-Ogikubo in a day trip. During my last visit, I went back to the area several times and I'd happily stay there on a future visit.

Inoshakira Park

When you arrive at the station, there are several exits. I usually begin with the Park exit and head to Inoshakira Park, which is roughly five blocks south of the station. No matter what time of year you arrive, the park is bustling with life. People are out doing exercises, walking around the lake, riding their bikes or walking their stroller-pushed dogs.

I'm often asked about my favorite places to go fabric shopping around Tokyo. For years I was cagey with this info because I didn't want to give away my favorite spots, but now I tell everyone who will listen because I want beautiful fabric shops to stay in business.

My favorite day trip from Tokyo, whether I'm staying in Shinjuku or Ueno, is to Kichijoji and Nishi-Ogikubo. Kichijoji is a bigger area which I'll cover in the next post, but for now I want to focus on quaint little Nishi-Ogikubo.

Starting with the important question from the red carpet: Who wore it better? Amy or Kumiko Fujita? I have to give this battle to her because she did a proper catwalk turn that made everyone laugh and smile.

When my birthday rolled around this year, I was a given a choice of gifts. I could get a new indoor lens for my camera, go skydiving or go to Japan.

Where else but Japan would people in patchwork animal onesies hand out prizes at a quilt show?

I've been stewing over what I'd saw about the International Quilt Week Yokohama for almost a week now - knowing that no matter what I wrote, you'd feel let down by the lack of photos. It was a tough call for me, deciding whether or not to take photographs at the show and post them here.

Life sometimes throws you surprises that bring tears to your eyes. When I opened my mailbox yesterday and found one of my quilts on the cover of Australian Patchwork & Quilting, I was a bit of a goopy mess. I made the First Garden quilt a few years ago and was surprised when Elaine Rose, editor of APQ, asked if she could use it in their magazine earlier this year.

Almost every quilt in our home is functional and used freely with wanton regard to their care.

Before launching into the stories of my trip, the wonderful shops I visited, the quilts I saw and the people I met; I thought I'd show you some of the goodies that I've brought home to work with.  I have so many great stories to share and places to recommend, but I'm still feeling a bit of jet lag.  Honestly, a pair of toothpicks to prop my eyes open would be so handy right now.

I did a spot of shopping on this trip, mostly at the Yokohama Quilt Show.

I am in Japan this week for the Yokohama Quilt Show and a bit of a personal holiday.  I always love the inspiration that I find here like these folded paper cranes at shrines and memorials in Ueno and Nippori.

Earlier this month Crystal of Two Little Aussie Birdies invited me to join in the conversation about Modern Quilting, Modern Women. This was shortly after I went on a rant on Facebook about Family Feud questions. The show asked about women's jobs and men's jobs. I'm rarely vocal about feminist issues. In fact, as an engineering and computer science student in college, I shunned women's groups or women's scholarships.

Would you like to win this amazingly awesome wool felt bundle from Two Blue Birdies? Trust me. When I tell you about the merino felt in Sonya's shop, you are going to want to win this 86 color treat! The giveaway is after my review - if you already know you love this felt, then scroll to the bottom.

My obsession with wool felt started a couple of months ago when on a whim, I picked up some small pieces of wool felt and made a few cushions. I had no idea what a difference proper wool felt made.

A few years back, when die-cut fabric machines were still a relatively new thing, I reviewed the Sizzix BigShot. I was a fan and coerced most of my Sydney friends that they needed one too. I loved the expediency and ease of the cutting, the smart shapes, the lack of dog ears and the ability to spend my sewing time doing the parts of the process that I enjoyed. I had tried a competitor's product which left me flat, but the Sizzix won me over.