Monday, April 30, 2007

Japanese Craft Books in English

The other day I was at Barnes and Nobles with the girls, when Miranda spotted a copy of Aranzi Aronzo's The Bad Book--in English. A search online shows that The Cute Book is also available in English, with several others due for release in October.
Aranzi Aronzo Books
There will also be a variety of amigurumi books in English, such as Mr. Funky's Super Crochet Wondeful and Amigurumi! Super Happy Crochet Cute
I hope this means that other books will be available in English! It's fairly easy for me to order books from Yesasia, but it would be great to be able to browse through books in local bookstores. On the other hand, this may be bad news for my wallet. I'm already trying to budget myself with regards to book orders, it's going to be harder if I can just walk into a store and buy the books!


This is a pair of shorts I made for Miranda this weekend

This is the cool embroidery I did on the pocket

She wore them today. This is the giant rip Ivy bit into the back of them.

She was pretending to be a wild animal, hanging onto the pants by her teeth. Guess I should be glad it was the fabric that gave way, and not a tooth. I can patch them but it's right over the butt and I think it's going to look silly. Maybe I can just darn it and put another pocket on the back to hide it.

No more wild animal games! Or at least no more wild animals that bite...

Cat and Bunny and New Spring Clothes

Cat and Bunny from ISBN 4579107802. The pattern in the book is just for the bunny, I adapted it for the cat. The doll is something I've been working on for a while, and I am not quite satisfied. I thought using embroidery floss would make nice silky hair, but instead it's very messy and raveling on the ends. I stole her clothes from Ivy's bunny, who got to wear on old pinafore from the doll clothes bin. I do really like working with linen to make toys, I hope I get lucky and find some more in the remnant bin. I also should check out the thrift shop--I am sure there would be plenty of cloth in a linen dress or skirt.

Dress, also from ISBN 4579107802. Isn't this lovely? I really am glad how the pattern turned out. I found the fabric at the thrift shop several years ago--I have the vaguest memory of having an Easter dress when I was about Ivy's age made of similar fabric. It's a synthetic, and I almost didn't make the dress because I prefer cotton fabrics. But it drapes so nicely I am glad I finished it.

Hooded jacket from ISBN 457911132X. The pattern pieces for this had the hood and front part all as one piece, which was a little tricky to fit together with the back. I love the fabric--I went back to Joann's thinking if they had more I would make a skirt, but there was none left.
Miranda took this picture, you can see she takes better ones than I do--look how sharp the detail has. I'll have to ask her to explain her technique.

Oh! and we figured out the mystery flowering tree in the front yard. Thank you for the magnolia suggestions--it is indeed a Star Magnolia

Friday, April 27, 2007


Okonomiyaki is a type of savory pancake eaten in Japan. It's made from flour, eggs, cabbage and a type of yam--I can't remember it's Japanese name. You can either grate the yam or get it in powdered form. I haven't been able to find it in any of the shops here, so when I make okonimiyaki, I omit it. But when Yoshimi went back to Japan, she gave me a few food items, among them a packet of the yam powder.

I used this basic recipe and added the yam powder Okonomiyaki Recipe

In the pan. There's bacon on top.

Ready to eat! There is mayonaise, okonomiyaki sauce (a sort of sweet brown sauce. You can substitute a mixture of worcestershire sauce, ketchup and soy sauce), bonito flakes and seaweed on top. Sometimes I put pickled ginger as well. It's so good!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Learning Japanese

I've been teaching myself Japanese for nearly two years now. I started because I thought it would be fun to learn with my two daughters--not realizing how unrealistic it was to think I could teach a language I didn't speak myself. I became intrigued with the challenge of teaching myself and while it is difficult to find time to study and sometimes I feel so far behind other students I meet who've been studying for two years, it's really gratifying to be able to read something, even if it is a children's book.

I used the book Japanese For Busy People I as my first textbook. I really liked it, and started on the second book--I am having a lot more trouble with. It seems as though they use a lot of kanji they don't explain. I also use Japanese the Manga Way. Initially I was put off by the manga aspect, but it does a great job of explaining grammar. And since it's been a long time since I studied English grammar, it helps a lot! For kanji study I use Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese. It's not the best resource as it uses romaji instead of kana, but it's really cheap.

For online sites, this is a fun one to start out with:
Kids Web Japan

Good grammar resource
Tae Kim's Guide to Japanese Grammar

Online dictionary
Jim Breen's WWWJDIC

Another fun vocabulary page. If you scroll to the bottom and click on Home, there are other language options
Japanese vocabulary

One of the best study aids was finding out that a local library subscibes to Rosetta Stone, all I needed to do was apply for a library card and I can now access it for free--including all the languages. A wonderful bonus, since just buying the software for one language can cost nearly 300.00 and I access all languages for free.

And of course Yesasia for Japanese language books.

Miranda isn't terribly interested in learning Japanese, although she does enjoy watching movies and cartoons. Reading the subtitles has been good practice for her reading skills as well. Ivy is more enthusiastic and has been practicing writing Japanese along with learning the English alphabet. She's getting pretty good.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hitori de Unchi

This book was part of my latest Yesasia order. Because I have the sense of humor of an 8 year old, it just cracks me up

Still working on my Japanese, I think the title is I poop by myself, or maybe Poop Alone.

Nekono mike uun uun
The tortoiseshell cat says uun uun.

nanishiteiru no ka na
What is it you are doing?

oya! tottemo iiunchi
Ah! A very fine poop!

Then there are other pictures of a dog, a baby bird and a monster (the one on the cover). Last is a little girl

yatta ne!genkina unchi!
I did it! A healthy poop! (I love how the poop is flexing it's muscles)

ISBN 4031241208

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Print and assemble paper bento, dollhouse rooms and much more!

We made a paper bento, although ours doesn't look quite like the one on the webpage--Ivy insisted on cutting it out herself

This is actually something I am learning to let go of--that projects don't have to be perfect. So often I plan an activity, and end up doing most of it myself so it will "look right". She really enjoyed cutting the pieces out, and was quite proud of herself and the finished project.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Responding to comments

Since blogger doesn't have a way to respond to comments by email, I am going to start leaving responses in the comment section. So if you leave a comment, please check back, especially if you asked a question.

Dreaming of a White Easter

Here in Cleveland, Ohio it's been snowing steadily since last night. There are snow boots sitting next to sandals in the hallway--it was almost 80 degrees last week! And now this.

Brian helped the girls make a snow bunny in the front yard. We've been singing "Here comes Peter Cottontail, skiing down the bunny trail...."

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Girly Style Wardrobe

These arrived last week, but I am only now getting a chance to post about them
ISBN 4579111362

The title of this is something about wearing textures, and that's the best part of this book. I don't like all the patterns, but the way textures and neutral colors are combined is really lovely. I especially like this dress. I am not sure if it's obvious in the scan, but the bodice has been quilted with a simple running stitch going vertically and horizontally.

Long jacket


ISBN 457911132X

I have another book by this woman, which I really loved, I made almost all of Ivy's clothes from it last summer. This one is nice, but it seems like a lot of the same projects. The other book is all summery stuff, and this one does include some cooler weather clothes patterns which will come in handy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What a week!

Man, what a busy past 7 days it's been. Mitsuna arrived on April 25th and left Sunday night. I meant to blog more regularly about it, but there never seemed to be time. And of course I took maybe 5 pictures. I'm hoping some of the other host families got a few pictures of us!

At the zoo, exploring a doctor's kit:

Coloring eggs with Mitsuna

Easter egg hunt

The Japanese kids, their teacher and the host family kids

Beautiful gifts from Mitsuna. There are bookmarks her mother made, a tiny fan that is actually a card, a notebook shaped like a kimono, and a kamifusen--paper balloon--shaped like a goldfish.

This was also a gift from her, it's a picture book of a popular Japanese folktale, Urashimatarou

We really enjoyed having her here. I didn't speak as much Japanese as I had hoped, both because I was very self conscious and because Mitsuna wanted to practice her English. It did come in handy a few times when she didn't know a word, and she said it made her feel more comfortable knowing that I did understand some Japanese. It was a little frustating for me to realize how little Japanese I actually know, but it was also great being able to listen to other people speak and see what I could understand (very little!). It's given me the boost I needed to keep up with my studies