Saturday, August 26, 2006

Flower Hats

A bouquet of flower fairy hats, bluebell, primrose and buttercup

Little skull set, snap crotch t-shirt with handstamped design, skull print pants.

Available HERE

Thai Sticky Rice

Many Americans used to the Uncle Ben type rice ("every grain separate!") often refer to asian rice as "sticky" since the grains do clump together. But true sticky rice is something different, also referred to as glutinous rice or sweet rice. It has a delicious chewy texture when cooked.

as you can see, I am due to go grocery shopping at the asian food market.

The first time I cooked it I made it like regular rice and it turned to porridge. So I checked out how to cook it properly and discovered I was doing it entirely wrong. You need to soak the rice for at least 4 hours and even overnight, which is why I don't eat more sticky rice since I have a hard time remembering to put it to soak. Then you drain all the water and it's ready to steam.

There's a special steamer used in Thailand, but I just use a bamboo steamer. I used to have a round cake pan I would put the rice in so it wouldn't fall out the bottom, but I let it soak too long in the dishwater and it rusted. Cheesecloth or a piece of muslin works fine as well. Put the rice into the steamer, set in a large skillet filled with water, turn the heat on medium to high and steam for about 20 minutes. The rice will be translucent when done.

Traditionally it's eaten with the hands, you roll it into little balls and use it to scoop up the other food. I like to eat mine in a bowl with toppings. Here I have steamed spinach, mung beans and chicken. It's seasoned with fish sauce and a squirt of sriracha.

It's also very good for breakfast with scrambled egg, chopped scallions and peanuts.

Apparently you can even cook it in a microwave, which I would like to try.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Aside from the X-Files and occasional episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Law and Order, I've watched very little American television in the past few years (I'm not counting the endless episodes of Little Bear Ivy makes me watch with her. But about a year ago when I first started studying Japanese, I got hooked on doramas. Doramas are Japanese television shows, the word comes from drama but they aren't always serious, often they are comedies. Romance and high school stories seem to be the most popular, but there are the occasional mystery/suspense ones which I like best. Trick is my absolute favorite, a sort of cross between the X-Files and Twin Peaks, with a lot more humor. I also really enjoyed Midnight Rain, A Million Stars Fall From the Sky and Teru Teru Ashita. I just finished watching Yasha and just started One Missed Call, which I think might end up being a bit silly rather than horror.

One big difference between American television and doramas is that only a certain number of episodes are created, so there is a definite end to the story. American television will keep the series going until it is no longer possible. Resolutions in doramas are much clearer, although occasionally sad. It surprised me that sometimes main characters will die at the end. Another feature of the doramas seems to be giant leaps of faith. You are often supposed to accept major coincidences. People are connected to each other in incredible ways. Still, it's an entertaining way to practice my japanese. I used to download them at, but now I usually find them at There is a small selection of anime, drama and movies available for free, but for 5.00 USD you can purchase 30 hours of streaming video and they really have a great selection, almost all of which is subtitled (I could not watch any of these without subtitles, my japanese is nowhere near good enough). I've also found some stuff at, that's where I am watching One Missed Call. As soon as the girls settle down I am changing into pajamas and settling down with a cold beer.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Vintage Craft Books

I used to go to library sales all the time and as a result have books I don't even remember buying (which is why I don't go to the sales that often anymore). Here are some of my favorite craft books:

Dollmaker's Workshop by Vera P. Guild, c. 1981 ISBN 0878510494

This one has a very late 1970's/early 1980's feel to it, if I were going to make any of the toys I would probably modify them. Although I am betting if this book were written in Japanese I would find them adorable as is, ahaha.

Modern Soft Toy Making by Margaret Hutchinson, c. 1939, 1961

I love this one, but I have never made anything out of it because the patterns have so many pieces for each toy. It does include full size patterns in the back, but you have to trace them because they are on the front and back of each page. Due to its age it has some toys that might be seen as a bit objectionable, such as a Golliwog.

International Doll House Book by S.F. King c. 1977 ISBN 0517529462
I loved this book when I was a kid, I was so glad to find a copy in the thrift shop a few years ago. It has instructions to make six houses out of wood--Swiss Chalet, Modern Bungalow, Spanish Hacienda, Victorian Mansion, Japanese House and Gypsy Caravan.

I actually made the caravan when I was about 20, my dad had a workbench area down in the basement he let me use. It turned out okay, but it wasn't really that well made and after I moved a few times, it broke and instead of trying to fix it I stupidly just threw it out. Some day if I ever have the space for woodworking I'd love to make another one.

I also love this Japanese one. This shows the house without its roof

One of my favorite books as a kid was Miss Happiness and Miss Flower(man, that new cover is awful by Rumer Godden. The back of the book included plans for the Japanese house Nona's cousin built for her, but there were no actual pictures of what the finished house would look like, just the drawings in the book so it's a bit hard to get a feel for what it would actually look like. I wanted one so bad. I have a feeling if I ever do get around to actually building one of these houses it will really be more for me.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Griffin Wings

Yesterday we walked to the post office. It was hotter than I had thought, so I bribed the girls with a promise of snacks at one of the corner stores that are all over the neighborhood. Armed with cans of pop and chips, we took a short break on the steps of St. Colman's, where Miranda was able to visit with one of the giant stone griffins that guard the entrance. She wanted to know if I could make a stuffed griffin, and then thought maybe wings for one of her lions to wear would be better--which I thought was a really great idea (and far easier than making an entire toy)

They are made from muslin, lightly stuffed with polyfil and machine quilted. I am not too happy with the feather pattern--not sure what I was trying to do. I probably should have put some sort of wire along the edges to stiffen them, they are floppie than I wanted. But Miranda was happy with them.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Of Grasshoppers and Laundry

So, I did wake up today feeling fairly useless. But sometimes the problem with feeling so blah all you want to do is lie around, is that lying around just makes you feel more blah. The weather has been wonderful and today was no exception. I felt that we should go somewhere, do something but I didn't know what. So we went out to the yard, where we found a huge grasshopper.

We watched him in the cricket cage for a bit, then set him free

It was the perfect day for hanging out laundry. I really like hanging the sheets because it really doesn't take that much work, unlike hanging up a load of clothes, but it makes me feel so domestic to watch them waving in the breeze. And of course then they smell so good. Ivy started to have a little tea party with her animals, but she was afraid they would blow away. I am not sure what's made her so fearful of the wind, but she gets really upset if the wind blows enough to move things just a bit. Miranda came out to join her but decided it was too hot.

Ivy is working on her Hamutaro book. It's in Japanese so I can understand about 10% of it, fortunately it's for really little kids so there are lots of pictures explaining what to do. We are still trying to learn Japanese but since I am learning along with them, it's pretty slow. I got the book from

This are the sunflowers in our yard. I planted them in a circle and you can't really see there is a chair inside. It's supposed to be a little house, but the girls won't go in it because they don't like the bugs. At least the flowers look pretty.

Weeds! Japanese knotweed, ragweed and morning glories. No wonder I have allergy troubles. I tried to keep this area of the yard free and finally gave up. Probably why we had a groundhog in the yard earlier in the summer.

Pumpkins. We have three that I can see, I hope there are more hidden. We wrote Ivy with a knife when it was just little and now it's part of the pumpkin. There is a Miranda one as well.

Our nature table. The Waldorf ones I see in books are nice and neat with little felt wool and wooden decorations. Our's is a bit of a hodgepodge, with fimo animals, pine cones and some rocks, as well as a few figures I made. There is a tiny gnome family but you can't really see them. The two dolls are supposed to be Mother Nature--she's holding a little baby--and a junebug.

All my Japanese books. Only about 1/3 are craft books, the rest are textbooks and kids books. You can also see my orange Childcraft set.

The messy corner of the dining room that is my workspace. It doesn't really look that bad--Miranda had a birthday party last weekend so we had to do a lot of cleaning. There's more cloth, yarn and stuff upstairs in the tiny cluttered back room. It's pretty awful up there, I need to come up with a better solution.


I've been reading quite a few posts lately on why we blog, what we hoped to accomplish, and why we continue. Making Time posted a particularly relevant piece.

This blog, I really enjoy it. This is where I really hope I am sharing a lot with people. But there is a self-aggrandizing aspect of it. There are some high profile blogs I read, and part of me wants to be up there with them, the blog that everyone is writing about, posting links to, the blog with 30+ comments. I want to be famous! But my writing does tend to stick to a particular subject, I don't share a lot of my family life aside from a few comments. My first exposure to blogging was Livejournal, and while I do still keep up that journal, it does tend toward the sort of whiny angsty that people make fun of livejournal. And that's fine, I have a commmunity over there that supports my whiny angst. This blog I wanted to be a bit more professional, and as a result it might be a bit drier. I would like to find a balance between revealing a bit more of my personal life on this blog while continuing with the crafty bits I enjoy sharing. Such as why I am still awake blogging at 3AM since FINALLY my daughter has fallen asleep on the couch. And why I have no energy the next day because I was up like an idiot until 3Am. That sort of thing. So stay tuned! Exciting crafty adventures to follow!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Chibi Mouse

Myra at My Little Mochi was generous enough to post a tutorial for making her cute little rabbits and cats. We've been watching quite a bit of The Great Mouse Detective around here, so Ivy requested a chibi mouse.

I have to admit I didn't crop this picture so I could show of some of my favorite childhood books 8-)

I also finished another baby kimono. I think the elephant is a little crooked, but this is the second time I appliqued him on-he was really crooked the first time. I figure when the baby is wearing it you won't be able to tell if it's a little off, so I am leaving it.

The weather around here is starting to feel like Autumn. Bright blue skies, sunny but with a breeze and the nights are cool, even a bit chilly. Hope the cooler weather will stir my creativity, I've been rather slack the past few weeks and looking for some inspiration. Now that Brian is back from Toronto I am thinking of taking a trip down to Columbus, back to the store where I found all the used craft books to see if I can get lucky again. And I think a day to myself would be quite desirable.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I had some pictures to post, but Brian's in Toronto on a business trip and took the camera--with the memory chip that contains the pictures. It's been a bit rough with him gone--now that he works from home, we are all noticing his absence much more. Past trips the first few days would just feel as though he were working long hours, by the time everyone started to miss him the trip would be almost over. I finally have the girls settled down--Ivy is asleep and Miranda is quietly watching Pee Wee's Playhouse. I have discovered that gin and lemonade with a sprig of rosemary makes a nice summer night drink.

It's been so hot I haven't felt much like crafting lately, although I've been working on another little kimono and just need to do the sashiko embroidery around the neckline.

I love the look of applique, but never quite mastered turning the edges of curved pieces under. I found this great advice at Mimi Kirschner's blog:

You have your chosen fabric and then something like a very light not
iron-on interfacing for backing. I had some used dryer sheets and thats
what I used- they worked perfectly. You put your fabric face down on the
backing. You sew the outline of your shape. Clip the curves and trim the
seam. Cut a slit in the backing. Turn the little shape right-side out.
Now, all your edges are turned in for you- iron it flat. Sew the shape in

I can't wait to try this. In the past I just cheated and used fabrics that wouldn't fray, not bothering to turn them under. Now I can try turning some of my scraps of calico into appliques.

Oh, and I just discovered I never changed my email on my blog, so I wasn't getting any of the comments emailed to me. Turns out I am rather popular after all, I just didn't know what anyone was saying about me! So if you posted a comment that was a question, I apologize for not answering. I'm going to go back through all the comments and make sure I didn't miss anything.