Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dog Cafe in Myeong Dong Korea

I have to admit that I had some reservations about the cat and dog cafes that are popping up in the trendier parts of Seoul.  Why?  Cleanliness, aggressive behavior, cleanliness, animal rights, and oh yeah, did I mention cleanliness?  But after being away from my beautiful Cappie Baby for two weeks, I caved.  

We stumbled upon a cafe in Myeong Dong, but I can't recall the name.  It was on the 4th floor and there were double doors to help prevent escapes.  Once you enter, everyone in your party is required to purchase a drink costing anywhere from $5-$10.  Don't arrive hungry because no food is served.

After you order and pay, you must read a small list of rules and clean your hands with a generous gob of hand sanitizer.  Huge jugs of hand sanitizer, the small of disinfectant, and tons of rags/cleaners behind the counter . . . I was feeling much better already.  

There was also a "Most Wanted" sheet with mug shots of the naughty dogs.  Don't pet them!   

My favorite dog was the Golden Retriever, of course!

And then there were the pugs.  Oh dear those pugs were adorable.  

Don't expect a lot of doggy interaction. Most of the dogs would tolerate some affection from the smattering of patrons, but for the most part, the dogs only wanted to be with their mommy (the woman in the green jacket).

The cafe that we went to was surprisingly clean. Poop and pee were cleaned immediately, there was no doggy smell, and the worst thing I can say about the place was that it reeked of disinfectant.

The little dogs had ample room to play and exercise. The larger retrievers appeared to have good muscle tone and most importantly, the dogs appeared to be HAPPY. Except for the pug. The pug needs hugs.

Hello Kitty Cafe in Korea

I am a big fan of the cheesy, over-the-top themed restaurants and cafes that are popular in parts of Asia.      So on my trip to Seoul last fall, I couldn't resist a trip to the Hello Kitty Cafe in Hongdae.  The cafe is tucked away on a hilly alley but was relatively easy to find.  (Side note - addresses mean nothing in Korea so either use GPS/Google maps or ask a local for directions.)

Hello Kitty Cafe Korea

Hello Kitty Cafe Korea

The cafe is divided into a half dozen seating areas.  The downstairs seating area was furnished with overstuffed kitty shaped sofas, but it was packed with college-aged couples so we headed upstairs.

Hello Kitty Cafe Korea

Hello Kitty Cafe Korea

A Hello Kitty mocha!  

Hello Kitty Cafe Korea

 The Kitty cake was made from two layers of white cake and whipped cream frosting.  The cake was bland and tasted more like two pieces of white bread.  And I think someone forgot to add the sugar to the frosting.  The novelty factor made up for the flavor (or lack thereof), and I could think of worse ways to spend $10.

Hello Kitty Cake

Even the bathrooms are themed!

Hello Kitty bathroom

Hello Kitty bathroom

Monday, January 7, 2013

UFO Catchers in Shinjuku

It seems like everything is a little looser in Shinjuku - the rules, the women, and most importantly, the UFO catchers!  UFO catchers are just like the American crane game except there are only TWO prongs.

I like to pretend that I am the Master of the Crane Game so when I saw the giant Arpakasso sitting on the top of the machine, I thought, "MINE MINE MINE MINE!"  Sadly, he was not for sale/winning :(  But after feeding far too many 500 yen coins into those happy little machines, I did score some smaller kawaii plushies!

Pirate Arpakassos, Gloomy Bear Rabbit, and Rascal the Racoon

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sakura Con Artist Alley Experience

There has been quite a bit of chatter on the Mom's Basement Team about selling in an artist alley!  So I thought I'd write a more in-depth entry about my experience vending at Sakura Con's AA, along with some hints and tips.  The tips are highlighted in yellow so you don't have have to read through EVERYTHING.  There is also a list at the bottom of this post.

This was my first artist alley experience, so granted, I'm no expert!  However, I have sold at a few cons in the dealer's/exhibitors area and at 50+ craft fairs, and I've found that there are a number of similarities.

Thursday, April 5 - Set Up Day

The first challenge of the AA process is figuring out where to unload your vehicle!   The Washington State Convention Center was kind enough to lend out their large dollies.  You don't get that kind of service everywhere, so it's a good idea to be prepared with your own pushcart, folding dolly, or army of people willing to do manual labor.  If you have more than one load, make sure you bring a friend to watch your goods while you return to your car to get the rest of your stuff.  I've found that while the other vendors are generally very honest people, there will be convention center staff, A/V crews, decorators, etc, roaming around the hall. 

Sakura Con was very organized and we were able to pick up our badges easily.  We found our table and uh oh . . . it was tiny. A 8' table is not much room, and I was shocked by how little we were able to fit on it.  I tried to upgrade to a 10' x 10' booth, but they were sold out.   Do a mock-up of your display at home so you know how much room you have. I am still kicking myself for not taking my own advice!  After about an hour of decorating, this is what we ended up with:

Bit of Sugar booth at Sakura Con Artist Alley
See those two girls?  They, too, were vendors, and vendors are likely to be your best customers because they are there all 3-4 days and they are making money so they will be spending money!  If you do cons regularly, you will even start to recognize the same people as there are a number of pros who travel around the country from con to con.  These vendors are some of the nicest, friendliest people I have met, and they have given me great advice. 

At this point, Brad was getting HANGRY (so hungry he was angry) and needed to be fed, so we just did a quick lap around the room to see who else was vending, aka make my shopping list!

Here are some miscellaneous set-up day tips:

1.  As you go through the setup process, you will realize that you've forgotten to do or bring a number of items.  Make a list of things to bring the next day.  Write it down - if you forgot it the first time, you might forget it the second time. Can you see what we forgot to bring?  Our banner - BIG mistake!  There's not much you can do when you're 2,500 miles from home,  so we improvised with a small framed sign.

2.  Wear comfortable shoes. 

3.  Bring food and water - the concessions are usually not open.  Hotel and convention center vending machines charge exorbitant prices!

4.  If it's cold, layer!  If it's hot, be as nekkid as you're comfortable with.  Heating and A/C units are usually off on setup day - boo!  Even if they are on, most convention and exhibition halls have large walls/doors that are left open during move in so any heat/cool air escapes anyway.

5.  Bring plastic tablecloths to cover your table at the end of the day.   It deters theft - if they can't see it, they can't want it, so they won't steal it.  It also prevents people from browsing after hours . . . browsing and accidentally spilling their soda all over your table :( 

6.  Allow yourself the whole day to set up.  It always seems to take twice as long as you think it will. 

7.  Test the cellular reception.  Whether you are using Propay, Square, a traditional terminal, etc., you will need to get a line out to gain credit card authorizations.  If you are using a traditional terminal and your signal is weak, make sure your terminal has software to do a store and forward.  This is a HUGE advantage over Square/Propay type swipers, and I can't tell you how many times it has come in handy at larger conventions/shows.  If you are using a Square/Propay type of system, the best advice I can give is to bring a backup phone, backup battery, or power pack.  Signal searching sucks the life out of your phone so quickly. 

In the next post, I'll continue this series on AA tips.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Arpakasso Jewelry

It was Arpakasso love at first sight . . . *sigh*  Since they are nearly impossible to buy in the US, I can't hop on the plane to Japan, and I can't steal one from a little kid (kidding), I've decided to create my own Arpakasso items.  Here's my first piece, a kawaii Arpakasso necklace for $9.50:

Arpakasso necklace

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Arpakasso family has landed at Honolulu International Airport!

Arpakassos disembarking the airplane with their kawaii luggage. 

I should be working right now, but I'm so excited to get my hands on my Arpakassos I can't concentrate!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Arpakasso Love!

As the creative director of Bit of Sugar, it's only natural that I have a predetermined, genetic tendency to gravitate towards all things cute.  So when I saw a pic of an Arpakasso on tumblr, I got hit HARD with a kawaii anxiety attack.  What is that, you ask?  It's an irrational, oh-my-god, scrunching my nose and shoulders while squirming with happiness, have to hug myself, my tummy is tickly, I HAVE TO HAVE IT NOW OR I AM GOING TO DIE feeling that turns my body to jelly.  

Brad got me a little family of 8, and their plane will be arriving on Monday.  I was lucky enough to have received a pic of the plushies, and couldn't help but do cute things to them.  Introducing the Bit of Sugar Arpakasso family . . .

Introducing Bit of Sugar's Arpakassos

Arpakassos love France!

Arpakassos dining in France.

Arpakassos frolicking in a field.