Miya’s Response to COVID-19

As with most people around the world who are being asked to stay home and socially distance themselves, we are feeling quite grateful and lucky that we are still feeling healthy but a bit anxious about what is in store for our personal interactions, for our family, our business, and our community.

Our retail store has been closed since March 15th, followed by our office a week later.  Our office staff is currently working from home and our warehouse is still operational for online orders.  But we are working with limited hours so that there are no more than 3 people working at one time, giving everyone room to move about while maintaining a 6-foot distance from others.  Everyone has masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and cleaning supplies.  Overall, so far, so good.

The first step was making sure our staff and their families were ok.  Then, making sure our business is still functioning somewhat.  Next, it’s time to give back.  For all the healthcare workers who are helping the sick and the essential workers who are helping the rest of us stay home, we have donated to different organizations.

We have just started our 10 for 10 project.  Inspired by the amazing business owners in Princeton, NJ, where our retail shop is located, we have created a promo code for 10% off your order which will then be matched as a donation from Miya to local food banks, most notably, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) in Trenton, NJ.  Our friends at the wonderful toy store, Jazams, in Princeton has always been a wonderful resource for us as we delved into the brick and mortar retail world.  Their generosity to the town, their customers and our small business community is admirable and we could not appreciate them more.  So, we totally stole their idea and implemented it for our own online sales! (Thanks Dean & Joanne!)

So, if you are feeling generous and in need of retail therapy for beautiful Japanese ceramics or gifts, visit our site, www.miyacompany.com.  Then use the promo code: TAKEGIVE10 and you will get 10% off, and we will match your 10% to donate to TASK.  We are doing this through Mother’s Day (May 10, 2020) because moms rock.

Furoshiki Wrapping for the Holidays

Every holiday season, as everyone is opening their gifts, I can’t help but think about all that wrapping paper that was made just to be ripped up and thrown away (or recycled in the best case scenario!)  My mom used to carefully untape the paper and neatly fold it to put away for another time but I don’t really remember it coming back out for anything!  Where did they all go, Mom??

A great way to wrap gifts – the way many different cultures have been doing forever – is to wrap them in reusable fabric.  In Japan, they use a square piece of cloth called a furoshiki.  Originally used to bundle up clothes/bath supplies going to and from the public bath, these furoshiki were also used by merchants to carry their wares, and then for wrapping gifts.  It’s not as commonly used today as they were back in the day but there is a bit of a resurgence due to desires to live more sustainably.

Furoshiki come in all sizes and the beauty of them is that you don’t even need a box for the item you are giving.  Since they conform to the shape of the item you are wrapping, you can wrap a bowl, a mug, or a wine bottle without much difficulty!  No need for tape either.

We have some examples of furoshiki wrapped items in the shop.  We also have a book that includes great instructions along with pictures to wrap common items to gift or to carry.  It’s a great way to give a gift within a gift this holiday season!

IMG_0979.jpg

Our furoshiki is currently only available in our Princeton store but if you are looking for something local to you and you can’t find actual furoshiki, make your way to the craft store and get some fabric you love!  If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you just need to sew the edges so they don’t fray.  Or find a large bandana to do the trick.  Shop local and/or shop small if you can!

More furoshiki experiments to come…

Miya’s Gingerbread House!

Let me preface this by saying I have never actually made a gingerbread house before so I looked everywhere for some inspiration/tips online.  I found a great blog post from La Fuji Mama that basically had everything I wanted so I shamelessly stole her design for this project.  Thanks La Fuji Mama for your creativity and post!  I literally could not have done this without you.

I found a recipe on a different site and procrastinated until the day before I had to bring it to the shop.  Next time,  I will be sure to prep ahead of time since I realize there were so many things I wished I could have added or done with more patience if I had given myself a couple more days!

But I went ahead and made some templates with poster paper and then transferred them to parchment paper so that they wouldn’t stick to the dough once I started cutting.  I made the dough (2 batches just in case!), chilled for a couple of hours (the dough chilled in the fridge and I chilled out on the couch…), rolled out the dough, placed the parchment paper templates on top and cut out 2 of each pieces of the house – front/back, sides, roof.  Baked, cooled and started decorating.  This process took a few hours so plan ahead!

3977732B-3EF2-4D0E-AE43-099717A6E750

As with La Fuji Mama’s project, I also added the Mt. Fuji background since it looked easy enough to do and I had a lot of dough left.  No template here, just cut the very iconic shape of Mt. Fuji.   Here it is with the frosting snow top:

3CEB6B64-0D27-4342-985F-0524E3D05632

Again, I had a lot of dough left over so I also made all our initials and our company’s name!  It’s not that pretty I know but I didn’t have any cookie cutters!  wow, my oven range is very dirty.

10617B78-65C7-4444-B551-ABDA5AC980F3

And since Mom is the one taking pictures of everyone all the time, I had to ask Bob and my daughters to take some shots so that I have some pics for this content! (on a side note, why do moms always take all the pictures?)

B1698518-254C-49B9-8539-F35FBAABAE41

I even made Royal Icing to put it all together!  If you check the recipe, it doesn’t require too much but it was a first for me.  Also, I realized I had 2 unopened jars of cream of tartar – one expired in 2014 and the other in 2016….  but this house is not really for anyone to eat.  Also, would anyone even know the difference?  What is cream of tartar anyway?

I decorated and let that dry before assembling,  stuck it all together with my royal icing “glue,” put cans to hold the walls up like the internet told me, waited for that to dry and then roof, more icing, Giant Pocky for the roof top (did you know Pocky made in Japan tastes more buttery than the ones made in Thailand?), more decorating, worried about whether it would fall apart or if it looked “japanese” enough, stole some ornaments from our tree to add some color, stressed about all the bugs it will attract in the shop, and VOILA!

96EEDC9D-CA36-4F1A-91BB-F0B79E72B75E

ok – it definitely could be better but it also could have been a lot worse!  Next year, I’m going to make the shoji doors slide open…  Wish me luck

Stop by the shop to check it out in person!  While you’re there, check out the other gingerbread creations around the square!  Happy Holidays!

 

 

Origami Workshop

We had such a great turn out for our first Origami Crane Workshop!  Since we started adding strings of origami cranes to the window display in our shop, we often get requests to hold a workshop to learn how to make that iconic origami crane.

We finally did it!  As part of Palmer Square’s Creating the Holiday Magic workshop series, we decided to participate with a session to learn how to make origami cranes, stars, and boxes.  We never made it to the boxes but I hope everyone enjoyed making the cranes and stars.

 

The best part of having family business is that I can make my family come help!  Bob and our three girls came out to walk around and provide some one-on-one help (and emotional support) for anyone that needed a little extra help.

 

Origami may seem difficult at first but as with everything else, it just takes practice!   Get some square paper, find instructions on YouTube and get to it!  It’s quite therapeutic and it keeps little (and big) hands busy.  They are great as ornaments or string them up and use as garlands.  It’s a fun DIY project for the whole family.

Friendly Neighborhood Department Square

I’ve always loved the idea of a downtown area in a small city or town.  When we were considering moving from our old neighborhood, the first thing we checked out were the downtown areas around New Jersey.  What we loved about Princeton were the greenness, the wonderful architecture of the buildings, and the variety of shops.  It felt like a department store without the “mall-ness” of it all.  It is a friendly neighborhood department square.

Our Instagram and Facebook posts usually revolve around our own shop but I wanted to show our love for all the shops/restaurants/businesses in Princeton!  And I enjoy the idea of shoppers coming to town, visiting a handful of shops and finding their own perfect unique gift for someone or for themselves.

I think we can all agree that we can pretty much buy anything anywhere these days but it’s nice to give a gift with some thought.  Even if it is for yourself.  Pairing one of our shallow bowls with Thomas Sweet chocolates?  That’s a great gift!  Buying beautiful cool frames at Morgenthal Frederics?  Get one of our special rectangular plates to give the frames their own special place in your bathroom, closet or bedside table.  Love getting coffee at Rojo’s or Small World? Bring your favorite mug and take your time enjoying your latte in the cafe or on the grass.  We are so over disposable cups anyway!

That is the idea behind our Social Media series, #MiyaXPrinceton – named so by my acting Social Media Director, who also happens to be our 15 year old daughter.

Additionally, we love talking to all our neighborhood business friends!  It has given us a chance to stop by, say hello, and let them know that we want them to succeed as much as we want to succeed!  So we tag their account and their location.  It has been a lot of fun.

We’re still working on these all summer so if you’ve missed any of our posts, browse our account or view our Instagram Story Highlights called Miya X Princeton.  Or search #miyaxprinceton on Instagram or Facebook.

If you want to see any other businesses featured with us, let us know!  I’ll be posting some of our past posts here as well shortly in case you don’t have Instagram or Facebook!

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Legit Now

Now that we have reopened as a permanent shop, it’s been just go-go-go!  Our original intent was to change the selections available at the shop every few months but that has been more challenging than we thought!  For one thing, as other retailers must know, as soon as I take a collection off the shelves, people come out of the woodworks asking for those pieces….  How does this happen every time??  So instead, we decided to keep our mainstays such as the Sendan Tokusa and make slight changes throughout the store seasonally.  I realize that sounds logical and why wouldn’t we just know that?  Well, we had envisioned a cool, ever-changing space for all our 2000+ SKUs.  Maybe for the second location…

We Have Our Own Retail Shop!

It’s been a fun couple of years for us at Miya and we didn’t even get a chance to post about it.  If you have been following us on Social Media, you may have noticed that we experimented with a Holiday Pop-Up Shop back in November 2017 in Princeton, NJ.

Our chalkboard sign announcing the opening of our Pop-Up Shop in Princeton, NJ.
My father-in-law making us tables for the shop at 86 years old.

 

What have we gotten ourselves into??
Just a couple of our little helpers

 

My husband enjoying the view from our new soon-to-be-opened shop.  That’s me inside taking pictures!

 

It takes a village. I don’t know what we would have done without family and great friends!

 

Almost like hanging up a shingle!

 

Opening Day!

 

Proud Shopkeepers

 

It’s Princeton, after all!

How Green is Our Juice…

For the past 2 years, Bob and I have been making green juice for us and our kids daily.  It wasn’t easy getting the girls to drink it everyday but it wasn’t that hard either.  Once they realized that we meant business, they kind of had no choice but to go with it.  Yes, we revoked (or at least threatened to revoke) some privileges if they didn’t have their juice for the day.  After a while, they realized that it wasn’t so bad.  In fact, our oldest, who is now 12, looks forward to it every morning.  If we miss a day, she is not happy about it!

We talk about it a lot to our friends and family – so much so that we think Bob has been influential in at least 5 family members buying a juicer and starting their own juicing expedition.  Not sure if everyone was able to maintain it but they tried.

So, now this has trickled into our work life.  Since everything else about our business seeps into our family life and vice versa, we have started a Miya Green Juice Program.  It’s a voluntary thing for our staff where everyone has to chip in their time and $1 per day for a healthy 8 – 10 oz. of green juice a day.  Everyone will rotate either buying the ingredients (paid for by Miya), prepping, or juicing/clean up.  We’re doing a trial run to see how it goes but I hope it lasts.

So far, everyone seems excited about it.  I think we are lucky in that pretty much everyone on our staff is fairly healthy to begin with and would not be opposed to taking it to the next level.

Our juice contains: kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, apples, celery, carrots and lemon.  The great part of our juice as opposed to some of the commercial juices on the market is that it’s not as sweet.  I find that most off-the-shelf juices are so sweet as if to try to mask the taste of the greens.  We like the greens!

We encourage everyone to try your own mix of vegetables.  I don’t know that any of us really get those 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day but this is a great way to try to reach that goal.

Kampai!

IMG_8220

Miya’s Kitchen – Chicken Stir Fry

What good are beautiful dishes without great food?  It’s like a gorgeous dress with no one to wear it.  So I say, put on that gorgeous dress and make some yummy food!  (or wait till after you’ve cooked something to put it on because aprons can be liars.)

We thought we would include some recipes that we’ve actually tried and share them with you.  We don’t create any recipes, mind you.  We’re foodies but we’re not chefies.  But we can tell you what we like and then put them on our plates to show you that you too can be just like us!  I know!  It’s incredible!!  🙂

My trusty sidekick, Yoko, brought us a recipe called Chinese Stir Fry with Eggplant and Peppers that is adapted from one she found on a Japanese website .  Can you guess what ingredients we would need?  Yes, Chicken, Eggplant, and Peppers….  It’s a genius name.

CHINESE STIR FRY WITH EGGPLANT & PEPPERS
(serves 2 – 3 people)

Chicken-Stir-Fry#1INGREDIENTS:

1 skinless boneless chicken breast (7 – 9 oz.)
1 large green bell pepper
1 small eggplant (9 – 11 oz.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or substitute potato starch)
canola oil (or oil of choice for cooking)
salt for seasoning
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Marinade:
4 tablespoons cooking sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons mirin

DIRECTIONS:
1. Wash vegetables and cut chicken, bell pepper and eggplant into bite-sized pieces.
2. Let chicken pieces sit in Marinade for at least 5 minutes.  The longer the better!
3. Remove from marinade and sprinkle starch on chicken.
4. Heat oil in pan and add chicken, cooking at medium heat just a couple of minutes on each side till no longer pink.  Remove from pan
5. Add eggplant to the remaining oil (add more oil if needed) and stir fry at high heat for 1 – 2 minutes.
6. Add peppers to pan with a dash of salt.  Cook at medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes.  We like the peppers to maintain a little crunch!
7. Add cooked chicken back to the pan and add Sauce.  Combine thoroughly and bring to a boil at high heat.  8. Serve on a beautiful plate that equals all the effort you’ve made slaving over a hot stove.  Add a drizzle of sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.  ENJOY!

Featured Bowl: Sendan Tokusa 6″ diameter bowlC553#2This versatile bowl is perfect for serving up some stir fry!  The Sendan Tokusa series features a beautiful and intricate take on the traditional Tokusa design.  Blue lines radiate from the center of the of the bowl that reach out to the rim.  The details on this pattern are impeccable and perfect for any table setting.  A design favorite!