Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cotton Time

This is the May issue of Cotton Time I picked up on a side trip to Toronto this weekend.

bag and room shoes. Several people have asked if I can make these in adult sizes so it's good to have a pattern to work with.

apple blossom wreath with felted green apples.

I really love this style, but I fear all the layers would make me look far too dumpy.

Peach-headed panda bear

another bag and more room shoes

I really paid far too much for it, I still cringe when I think about it. It would have been cheaper to order it from Amazon.jp and pay the express shipping. We were vacationing in Niagara Falls and on Sunday drove up to Toronto to check out the Pacific Mall and J-Town. It was a trip where everything that could go wrong, did.

First, I had a bit of a hangover. Little too much vacation celebration the night before. As a result, we got off to a later start than I had hoped for. We got lost on the way to Toronto, when Brian stopped for gas and directions, he discovered he had left his bank card at the Denny's in Niagara, where we had eaten breakfast. I had my card, but I can only use it as a credit card, I can't take out money with it. I kept meaning to go to the bank and take care of it, but dragging the girls in seemed a major inconvenience, and since I could still use it to shop, I'd been putting it off. So we had about 10.00 cash on us.

We arrived at Pacific Mall, parking was horrendous. We got inside and both girls had to use the bathroom--long line. Miranda wanted to shop for toys, but in a mall with 400 stores, we had to walk around quite a bit to find any toy stores. Then, both girls had a huge food crash. We'd stopped for breakfast but they really hadn't eaten that much. I should have bought snacks, but I was figuring after eating breakfast, did we really need anything for a hour and a half trip. So now it was nearly 3 and they were both starving. And nothing looked good to them, they wanted McDonald's

At this point, I had just about had it. Nothing seemed to be going right, and I had two girls about to stage a mutiny if we didn't feed them soon. I have to admit I didn't handle things very well at this point because I was just so disappointed that neither of them were enjoying the excursion. We finally found a place that sold something they liked--Vietnamese beef on sticks, a sort of chicken salad and rice. Fortified, we set off to explore and went to a few stores, but it really was too overwhelming for them. It would have been better if I had come alone, but then that sort of defeats the purpose of a family vacation, doesn't it? And armed with only a credit card, we were restricted to shopping at stores where we were going to spend at least 10-20 dollars, depending on the store. No quick little purchases here and there.

By now it was 4:30 and I knew J-town closed at 6 so I wanted to head over there. Once in the car, I realized I didn't have the address. I had forgotten to write it down. I knew it was on Steeles, same as the Pacific Mall, but couldn't remember exactly where. We drove up and down the Steeles three times--have I mentioned how wonderfully patient Brian was through this whole thing? Finally, I spotted it. The bookstore was the place I really wanted to go to, hoping to find some kids books, but they didn't have any. They did however have magazines and when I saw the Cotton Time, I grabbed it. At that point, I didn't really care about the cost, I was just determined to have something to show for all my pains...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Soulemama's lovely coasters gave me the idea for this wedding shower gift for my cousin. I showed them to my husband who said "fabric? for coasters...?" And I guess they aren't really practical, but I do like how they turned out. The placemats--look at the wavy edge! And I actually redid them after pressing them the first time and getting a bit dizzy looking at the edges. It really would help if I could sew and or cut a straight line...Artistic! I didn't intend for the edge to actually be straight

Ivy cannot resist being a ham for pictures, so this isn't the best photo of this outfit, but it's a pretty cute one of her. She's supposed to be Basil of Baker Street. The pattern for the top is from ISBN 4579107802 , I added the ruffle at the bottom. The shorts are actually from last year, but they kind of matched the outfit and I added a bit of bias trim in the same stripe around the neckline.

We are headed out to Niagara Falls tomorrow. This was not my choice for a vacation, but it has been decided that a side trip to Toronto, to visit a Japanese mall as well as North America's largest indoor Asian mall could be managed on Sunday. So with the promise of Japanese magazines and Asian sundries I have been placated, stopped sulking and am now actually looking forward to the trip. I may even be able to summon some enthusiasm for the kitschy touristy crap. But first, I need to actually get my daughters to sleep. Ivy went to bed around 9:30, but woke up at 1AM, and now she and Miranda are both wide awake. At least I am not the one driving...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tokage and Saru

Another dress from ISBN 4579107802 I wasn't too sure about this fabric--Ivy picked it out. I had a couple other ideas for it, but they were all dresses with straighter skirts and lately Ivy wants all her dresses to be "pinny" (spinny).

This is the detail on the bodice, based on characters from Aranzi Aronzo

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hikaru Dorodango

Anjali at Giant Jean's Parlor wrote an interesting account of her experience making dorodango at local festival in Japan. I'd never heard of dorodango before-- beautiful shiny balls made of mud and originating on Japanese playgrounds.

Can you believe this was once a handful of mud?

I found this image online, I haven't tried to make one yet. I cannot believe the patience of children taking three hours to create one of those, but then my own kids have a pretty short attention span--though we already know they do like to play in the mud!

Anjali explains the process very well on her website but she also links to this article which is an interesting observation of preschool children making the spheres and includes very easy instructions. I'm really intriqued and would at least like to attempt my own hikaru dorodango.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This was actually my idea:

What could be cooler than a mom that actually encourages you to play in the mud? Great fun was to be had--until it was clean-up time and they both decided that the water from the hose was far too cold. And this was sticky mud, too. I still am cleaning grit out of the bathtub...

That picture was taken on Monday when it was nearly 90 degrees. The past few days have been cooler and rainy. I finished this outfit and now it looks as though Ivy won't be able to wear it until the weather changes again

I rushed through the top a bit and the hem puckers slightly. If I press it, it's not too bad but I think maybe I should redo it. I tend to want to finish something in a hurry and then am hiding the sloppy bits. Slow down!

This is the applique on the pocket on the pants. See how the pocket isn't really a rectangle? Rushing again, although I have convinced myself this just looks artistic.

Oshikko deru

Yes, my capacity to be entertained by Japanese toilet education is indeed boundless. This is a potty training video featuring Shimajiro, a character from Kodomo Challenge--a series of books and videos for Japanese kids. I have a few I bought off of Ebay and they appear to be issued monthly so each deals with seasonal things. There are stickers, activities and stories.

The drawback is the song really is rather catchy so I've been absent-mindedly singing Oshikko deru deru shi-pa-pa...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rainy Day

Bah, summer cold. Yesterday I was achy, today I feel shaky and emotional. Anyone else cry easily when you have a cold? It's gray and damp today, which is perfect. Sometimes I find it offensive that the sun is shining so brightly, it's as if it's mocking me for wanting to be a lump for the day.

Yesterday it was 90 degrees--ridiculous! There is a little soft serve ice-cream place not too far from us, one of the walk-up type so just recently I noticed the boards were off the window and menus were up. I had to go to the post office so told the girls afterwards we would get ice cream. Not too terribly long a walk--5 blocks to the post office, and then maybe another 5 blocks to ice cream. But man, it was hot. And Miranda really doesn't like walking. So I was urging her along saying "think how good that cold ice cream will taste!" "won't it taste so much better since we had to walk there to get it!" And then we got there and it was closed. Geez. They were so upset. So we went home and had milkshakes but it wasn't quite the same.

To do list:
1. Get all the stuffed animals out of my bedroom. It's one thing to want to cover your own bed in stuffed animals, but I would like a bit of room to sleep.
2. Mop kitchen floor.
3. Laundry
4. Mend all the stuffed animals lying around my sewing machine. Each one just has a short split seam but I've been putting it off
5. Sew snaps on shoes, finish up some other projects.
6. Complete yesasia order. I've had one put together for several weeks, but every time I make an order someone makes a post about this great book they bought and I want that one as well. So I've been waiting, but so far have nothing to add. It's probably better to make small monthly orders instead of one big huge one anyway.

Man, I need to get back in a routine of studying Japanese, I've really been slacking again. Watching lots of dramas though, that counts, doesn't it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


There appear to be two basic genres for Japanese doramas, light fluffy comedies and those that are so darkly depressing you are desperate for any hope. The dark depressing ones are also generally the thriller type that I enjoy. I just finished watching Unfair, a drama I had started to watch about a year ago, but only the first two episodes were subbed. Finally someone finished the series and I got to watch the whole thing. It was really good, but oh man, the ending. So sad I went around for several days brooding about it. Many Japanese dramas deal with the idea of being unable to escape your past and this one was no exception. Now I am watching Watashitachi no Kyokasho, which apparently is currently airing, so it takes about a week for each new episode to get put up. Depressing, but there's a bit of suspense as well. And while I am waiting for new episodes, I started watching Byakuyakou, but I am not sure I will be able to finish this one as it's really beating me over the head with the darkly depressing part and I am certain it won't end well.

Non-skid soles

I've been searching for something to use as a non-skid sole on the bottoms of the slippers shoes I make--and apparently I was putting too much thought into it. Instead of looking for something that could be used as a non-skid sole, I just needed to look for actual non-skid soles

Jiffy Grip

It's the stuff you find in the feet of footie pajamas for little kids. Joanns sells it by the yard, it's about 15" wide, 3.99 a yard. I am not having any trouble sewing it with a heavier needle. Here are the first pair of shoes I made with it.

I hope we have another storm blowing in. I love sleeping when the rain is pouring down hard. We had a pathetic little 10 minute storm earlier, I am hoping for something more substantial. Rain tomorrow would be nice as well--I'd like an excuse to stay in the house since I am coming down with a cold--achy joints, drippy nose, scratchy throat. This happens every year. I sail though winter with nary a cough, and then the warm weather comes and I am sick. Usually it just lasts a day or two so it's not that bad.

Tiny Toad

Last Friday evening we headed to a pond at a nearby park to look for frogs. We saw quite a few and even caught one for observation before setting him free. Ivy was walking along this wooden wall, when she almost stepped on a tiny toad. "I thought it was a mouse!"

That's marker on her arm, not a giant bruise. Paints, markers--all of it eventually ends up all over her body.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Childhood Books

Inspired by Simmy's post at Echoes of a Dream, I've taken pictures of my own bookshelves

You may be able to identify Harry Potter, The Chronciles of Narnia and The Little House books sitting on the shelves. Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service is also sitting there, along with my very favorite books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The colored set to the left is a duplicate of a set I owned as a child. I've been putting it together with volumes found at thrift shops. I think I may be missing a few. The Oz books and the Mary Frances books are reprints. There is also a Mary Frances Knitting book that I don't own.

Craft books and Japanese books

Some more old favorites

The My Bookhouse and the red Story Hour set with black trim are things I discovered as an adult. The orange childcraft setis similar to the volumes I would check out of the library as a child.

Old schoolbooks

The copy of Sara Crewe was probably the first nice antique book I treated myself to as an adult. Most of the children's books I own are library cast-offs, many of the libraries around here have big sales yearly. I was also an out-of-print children's book dealer for about 6 years, from when Miranda was a baby until recently. It got harder and harder to find time to scout for books, as well as simply getting harder and harder to find good books--too many people in the business these days. But the bulk of my books were found during those scouting sessions.

I read so much as a child that I would neglect my schoolwork. At one point, as punishment for bad grades, I wasn't permitted to go to the library for pleasure for one entire grading period. It wasn't too bad--I liked to read non-fiction as well, so I would make-up reports I was supposed to be working on, and take out books on that subject. I would also bribe my younger sister into picking out books I would like to read. Once I even snuck off to the library and smuggled home some books. Both my parents loved to read as well, family trips to the library were a frequent activity, as well as my dad bringing home bags of books from library sales for us. But they had a strict sense of how things should be done, and schoolwork took precedence over "pleasure" reading. I remember how much I was self-educating myself as a child, and some of my frustration over those memories has shaped my attitude in unschooling my own children. Not to mention the pleasure I still get when reading while eating--another forbidden activity when growing up!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Yesterday was one of the first really warm days, so we headed out to the beach to dip our toes. Miranda and Ivy convinced me to bring along the bathing suits, even though I assured them that the water would be ice cold--Lake Erie doesn't really start to warm up until mid-June. I was right, the water was freezing--but I was impressed, those girls jumped in and lasted nearly half an hour.

Monday, May 07, 2007

There's a Witch In The Well!

Last night we had dinner at the house of some friends of ours. Their children are 4 and almost 2; after dinner we went outside to play and I taught them Witch in the Well, which was a big hit. If you are unfamiliar with the games, the rules as I learned them years and years ago went like this:

There is a designated well area. One person is the witch, decide this however you like. The witch hides in the well area, so something like a tree makes a good well. Another person is the mom, again, choose as you wish. The rest of the players are the kids. The mother says to the children

I am going downtown to smoke my pipe
I won't be back until Saturday night
Don't get into the jelly and jam!

(the rest of the adults were unfamilar with the game and in hysterics over the rhyme. My husband pointed out "you know, these days they'll put you in jail for that!)

Anyway. Mom walks away, kids pretend to get into the jelly and jam. Mom returns, scolds the kids and sends them to the well to wash up. As they reach the well, the witch jumps out, kids run back yelling "there's a Witch in the well!" Mom doesn't believe them, sends them back, witch jumps out, etc. You can repeat this part as often as you like, but eventually the mom says she will come with them to prove there is no witch, and at this point the witch jumps out and chases everyone. The one caught becomes the new witch, and the old witch becomes the new mother.

At one point Miranda suggested we play Barney in the well, because that would be really scary. She'd jump out and yell "be my friend!" while chasing the kids. It was pretty frightening.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

House Shoes

I really am please with this latest batch of cloth shoes. The pattern is from Craft Cafe Kids ISBN 4529043320.

These are baby shoes. The next two pairs are for an older child, approximately a size 9 and a size 10. I am not satisfied with the soles--I need to come up with something that is less slippery. I read an article in Martha Stewart's magazine that showed how to make slipper socks by using fusible webbing to attach ultrasuede to the bottoms of wool socks, but that still seems kind of slippery for a child's slipper.

I especially like the little felt flower on the strap.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Satsuki and Mei's House

Satsuki and Mei's house (from the movie My Neighbor Totoro) was reproduced at the World Exposition 2005 in Aichi, Japan. I don't know if it's still standing. This book shows photos of the rooms as well as blueprints and construction plans. I wish I had been able to visit, it's wonderful! Although apparently visitors were limited to only 500 per day-- and reservation tickets were balloted by national lottery, which received so many answers that the chance of being elegible were minimal.

ISBN 4835615417