When Life Gives You Lemons

It's hard to imagine your child with a life threatening illness.  I've been there, filled with fears of the what ifs and the what is to be's, dealing with the aftermath of treatments, and the ever presence threat of re-occurrences.  We are all right today.  Enough so as to move through life normally except for emotional hiccups.

Today I am wrapping gifts for a family of kids that I've never met.  I became their pen pal when I signed up to send handmade cards to siblings of kids with a life threatening illness.  When the organization closed their doors and I informed mom that cards were no longer coming, my pen pal Greg, who was about 7 years old at that time, feared that something bad happened to me.  I was taken aback.  How could I have been so insensitive?  Here was wee Greg with a sibling undergoing treatment for cancer when I suddenly say, "sorry, but no more cards for you, bud".  Uggh to me!

So I continue to send cards and gifts to Greg and now to his brother and sister as well.  I like being their pen pal, sharing stories of Hawaii, my trips, and family.  This is definitely a good thing.

Perfect Summer "Happy Un-Birthday" Gifts

A little house wrapping for Julia's Book

A happy cat for Greg's book

A 'quilted' wrapping for Thomas's Book

The wrappings are fashioned out of a brown paper sack and paper scraps.  I love how they turned out.  I love that paper crafting allows me to 'simply' create.  And if I don't like, I just toss it and start again.

When life deals you lemon... *LIVE * LAUGH * SHARE * ... & CRAFT!

It's Done!

My new Japanese Doll Face project is all done...phew.  I really like how she came out.  So cute.

The pouches are now available in my etsy shop....take a look see....

ohhh...I have a new face...

No not MY face...although with the amount of miracle creams and damaged control facial products in my bathroom cabinet...one would think I would have a brand new face (within 30 days and a manufacturer's guarantee) that is as smooth as a baby's bottom..."wanna" feel my face?  heh.

What I do have is a lovely new stenciled Japanese doll face with brown hair, stitched on eyelashes, and teeny tiny heart shaped mouth.  Very Kawaii.

Here is a sneak peek of my new doll face....soon to be in my etsy store....

This sewing project appeared to be simple at first.  I, however, would like to disclaim that for it took quite a bit of time to put together; accompanied by many a needle stabbing!  ITAI : OUCH ! The face and felt pieces are adhered to the fabric with the ultrahold Heat n Bond, which apparently is, as my fingers will attest to, very difficult to sew through.  I guess one should pay attention to the instructions or suffer the consequences. sigh.

I decided on BUNKA Doll Face for the name....but it's not really a BUNKA so I hope true BUNKA fans are not whirled into a tizzy about this...

What does a BUNKA doll look like you ask?  Here it is a very kawaii BUNKA doll sewn by Runo of the Nuno Life Blog.


Everything Japanese

I was beyond happy with dreams of being a tourist in Japan coming true.  Japan was as beautiful as imagined, especially with blooming cherry blossom trees everywhere.

I am desperate to return; to perhaps take better photos!  I drop BIG hints to hubby but he's not too excited that my desperation to get back to Japan is to SHOP. On our trip we were part of a tour group with a fairly regimented schedule.  The rest stations for bus groups were our major shopping stops, squeezed in with visits to the restrooms and eating lunch.  But the major bummer was...NO FABRICS.

So I want us to return solo.

My hubby is worried about the language barrier although I know a little Japanese; having attended Japanese language school as a kid and later taking classes in high school.  I feel well equipped with knowing how to say  ~ "amerika oteraii arimasu ka?" : "Is there an American style toilet here?".  No other words are as important.

For now, let's craft Japanese. Here is a Japanese Slipper box for you to try.

The pattern is here with the instructions.  

Tips ~
  • Use printed cardstock to fit your theme
  • If you can't find your favorite design on card stock, copy or scan gift wrap paper, origami, magazine print, etc. onto white card stock
  • Scoring is to create a line or depression in the card stock to make a 'cleaner' fold.  You can use a dull butter knife, edge of a bone folder, stylus or something similar. 
  • The pattern uses ribbon for the straps but I used cord. Either one works fine. 
If you have any questions...just let me know. I'll be more than happy to help out. 


Zakka Inspired Phone Cozy

I have a headache.  I've had one for three days now.  Either it's the change in weather, so hot and humid, or I've overloaded on too much caffeine with gallons of diet cokes, or possibly trying way too hard to come up with another project.  Sadly, I don't have not much to show after spending hours in my craft room.  Times like this make me question why am I crafting to sell when it's such a daunting thing to do?  Do I really need to blog or have an etsy shop?  I could be doing something else with my time...like....ahhhhhh...well, my kids are grown so they don't need me to feed and bathe them any more, I don't have grand kids so no babysitting for me, and the closest thing I have for a pet is my hubby. 

When I start doubting myself, it only takes a few moments to remember that crafting is what I do.  Feeling 'angst' is part of my creative process.  The anxiety sends me to seek quiet time.  Today, my quiet time was lunching at Taco Bell.  An idea for a new coin purse came out of nowhere.  As soon as I got home, I started to figure out the pattern and mechanics of sewing it together.  It may work or may not but it's okay...it's what I do.
But for now, I leave you with two cozies I made awhile back, inspired by embroidery designs from a Japanese craft book.

 Inspiration Picture from Japanese Craft Book

Completed Zakka Inspired Phone Cozy

For this cozy, I wanted to add more texture to the embroidered pig by crocheting a hat, scarf, and his nose. So cute.  I'm going to have to make this guy again. 

And here's another : 
  Inspiration Picture from Japanese Craft Book

Completed Zakka Inspired Phone Cozy

For this cozy, the umbrellas are embroidered instead of using fabric as in the inspiration picture.  I recall having issues with transferring the pattern ... not sure what I ended up doing but it looked like it worked! 

What the Heck?

Arrrghhh...I have a list of things to do so why, oh why, do I stray from it?  I started sewing then next thing I knew, my work table was covered with paper crafting supplies and I was working on these Russian doll tags.

As you know, I enjoy creating my own designs so each project takes a bit of time to work out.  But in the end, I'm loving these Russian Doll tags.  As much time as it takes me to design these, is the time it takes to clean up the mess....sigh.

Tomorrow is my day of rest, the day I go to my mom's to play scrabble.  Although in her nineties, she loves word games and loves beating me...no mercy from this ole' lady.

It's Mango Season !

My father was a first born son of a Japanese family. He came to Hawaii to make a living, sending money to his parents back in Japan and supporting his own family here in Hawaii. When I was a young girl, I thought it funny that my father would take pictures of us holding mangoes. Pictures that made their way back to his own father. He was definitely proud of his mangoes. Back then 3 to 4 mango trees grew in our yard; today there is none.

On my somewhat periodic daily walks through the neighborhood, I spot trees abound literally covered with mangoes. This year there’s a bumper crop. The mango flowers that turn into fruit were thankfully not disturbed by the nasty weather in the spring months. Mangoes seem to hang from every tree branch.

For those of us without our own mango trees, we could buy mangos but at nearly $3 a pound…I say “are you kidding me?!?”

But by some miracle we ran into an uncle at Hawaii’s largest shopping center who was more than happy to part with his mangoes. It was the mango karma at play.

Ahhhh…the sweet smell of mangoes once again filled our house. First on the agenda was to bake mango pies; a favorite of my papa.

Oh yeah, this is mango pie heaven.  A deep golden crust protects the sweet, juicy mango slices; mixed with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice.  The sad part is that one slice = 400 calories!  I guess I'll take one of my somewhat periodic daily walk tomorrow ... or maybe the day after tomorrow.

My Favorite Pie Crust Recipe
3 c. flour
1 T. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 c. shortening
1 egg, beaten
5 T. water, cold
1 T. white vinegar

Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Cut in shortening until mixture resembles small peas.  When done, in a separate bowl, combine beaten egg, cold water, and vinegar.  Sprinkle 4 T. of egg mixture over flour mixture and mix lightly with fork.  Add 4 T. more; continue light mixing until pastry holds together.  Press dough into a ball; flatten (not too much) into a disc shape.  Wrap in clear wrap; chill 15 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator.  Divide dough in half.  Roll out each half between clear wrap. 

Mango Pie Filling
6 cups sliced mangoes
2/3-3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 to 2 T. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. butter

Mix pie filling and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 9" pie pan with pastry.  Place half of the mangoes into the pan.  Sprinkle half of the mixture over the mangoes.  Add remaining mangoes and sprinkle remaining mixture.  Dot with butter.  Cover with top pastry.  Cover crust edge with foil to prevent over baking.  Bake pie for 40 to 50 minutes. 


Recycled Tshirt Pincushion Tutorial

Recycled Tshirt Pin Cushion

I started sewing a long time ago. The sewing school is gone, replaced by a car lot.  The styles in those days were simple with tent dresses and A-line silhouettes; with mini lengths.  If I loved a pattern, several dresses were made from different fabrics.  My friends must have thought me batty!  I wish I had a picture.

I sewed through high school and then when my first kid was born.  Smiles cross my face remembering those elastic waist pants for my wee son, sleeping bags for preschool, and school aprons.  I sewed some of my own clothes not using a pattern.  I didn’t know how to draft patterns but I didn’t know that.  Nothing fancy for I liked simple, comfortable clothes.  It was in the days hippies, student protests, drugs and free love.  I'm embarrassed to say that the most radical thing I did was to go ‘braless’.  Oh, no I didn’t burn it…I just didn’t wear one.

Then came a time when I didn’t sew at all … paralyzed by the stress of work, raising kids…spending too much time trying to catch that brass ring. 

As the kids grew, I found more time for ME! Through the years I’ve dabbled in a lot of crafting ~~ crochet, knitting, folk painting, macramé, beading, paper crafting, craft clay, cross stitching, embroidery, rubber stamping …. But now, I’ve come full circle back to sewing with a decision to pursue it this year. I sewed everyday for a couple of weeks, gaining confidence with each day passed.  And now…I can sew a straight line!! Yippee!!!

Sewing ideas are now popping in my head.  Here’s one for you making a lovely pin cushion out of a white recycled t-shirt.  This project was inevitable given my love for paper crafting and sewing. 

This recycled tshirt project involves printing a design on the tshirt using your ink jet printer.

Step 1 :

Get an old white tshirt headed for the thrift bin.  Iron out any wrinkles. Cut out an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece.

Step 2 :

You need to provide stability to the tshirt in order to send through the ink jet printer.  There are two options: Iron on freezer paper, shiny side to wrong side of tshirt.  Or as I do ~ Adhere the tshirt to cardstock.  Add double stick scotch tape on all side edges of the card stock to keep the edges of the tshirt flat and to the middle.

Step 3 :

Find your favorite paper ... my favorite is this washi paper covered with kawaii rabbits.  Scan your paper into your computer using your photo editing software.  Edit the colors, brightness, and saturation if you like or just leave as is.  Resize to 8 1/2 x 11 if not already. 

Step 4 :

Place your tshirt into the printer feed, check your printer selection ( I set to 'iron on transfer' ~ not sure if it makes a difference in quality ), then print.  This is the trickiest part in the process.  I had to hold the tshirt piece in the printer feed until the printer was able to recognize it.  It took after a couple of attempts. Note in the picture a side by side comparison of the washi paper and the tshirt.  The photo of the tshirt looks more pink then it is in actuality.  The tshirt (to me) has that washed out looked. 

Step 5 :

Cut out a circle ~ your choice in size.  I decided to make it as big as possible.

Step 6 :

Sew a running stitch about 1/4" in from the raw edges.  Then pull thread as you stuff the pin cushion with filling.

Step 7 :

Gather as tightly as you can.  I stuffed my cushion a lot so there was still an opening at the top.

If this happens to your cushion, simply sew the opening to close.

 Step 8 :

Wrap thread (sashiko, embroidery, or your choice of thread) around the pin cushion, going through the center several times. 

This is the underside of the cushion. I marked 'the center' with a pencil as a guide for poking the needle for that first pull through.

When done, pull thread tightly and secure with a knot at the top.

Step 9 :

Embellish the top of your pincushion with your creativeness.  For my pin cushion I used my old standby for picture taking ... My big head bird amigurumi.


My Bento Cakes Cookbook

This is my cookbook.  I sold around 200 copies to friends and family.  It was a great undertaking...a big time commitment.  Why? To raise money for the American Cancer Society.  I lost two very dear friends to cancer.  When they passed, I went through a phase of guilt...of not doing enough, not being empathic enough, not being enough of a friend, of letting them down in some way.  I love them both dearly and still tear whenever I think of each of them.  They were my motivation.

But this cookbook became much more.  In it I share a story of my (soon to be 95 year old) mom's first baking experience, baking cakes in bento containers (made of metal in the old days) in a makeshift oven on the stove top.  Wanting to make this book personal, I could not help myself, to tuck in little notes here and there to 'talk' with the cook. It is a cook book filled with memories...the cake my son baked for my birthday, our family's favorite chicken recipe, a popo crepe that brings back memories of our papa, my Okinawan donuts that my two wee nephews were sneaking off with to catch fish!

My niece is saving 2 books for her kids in which I wrote inscriptions.  I like that. My other niece shared with me that she reads it in the bathroom!! I like that too!!!

Here is how I made the Bear Bento Cake on the book cover ~~

To make the bear bento cakes, I started with store bought pound cake.  A Japanese bento mold makes the bear face.  Slice the cake the same height as the mold or if you have one with a 'face piece' like the one in the photo, slice the cake a bit thicker since you'll be pushing down on the cake to make the face impression.

Embellish the face as you please.  For this bear, sprinkles adorn the face for eyes and nose with a little flower for added cuteness.  Pink Japanese sugar candies create cheeks for the bear on the book cover.

Ohhhh...move over cupcakes!...The kids will have fun making their own bento cakes!

Think : Baby Showers, Bridal Showers, Tea Parties ...

What to do with the leftover pound cake? Make bread pudding! Here's one recipe to try or do a search on pound cake bread pudding to find more.


Kawaii Origami Strawberry Box

I love fresh strawberries, plain with no fussy chocolate or sugar coatings.  Living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean one can only dream to find a basketful of sweet, tender strawberries ... without blowing the family budget.  So in our backyard is a small pot with lovely, healthy strawberry plants.  The problem?  Something was eating my strawberries! Hubby thinks the culprit is a lizard playing in the plants.  Really? Do lizards eat strawberries?  Oh, but I'm okay with sharing my strawberries with another strawberry lover...whatever it was.

Fresh strawberries stirred my memories of these kawaii origami strawberry boxes.  Make the boxes for party favors then sit back to take in the oooohs and ahhhhs from your friends and family.  Fill them with candy, trinkets, love notes, phone charms, or that special gift  ...

Here is my pattern with notes

Here are some tips:

~ Change up the size to make teeny tiny strawberries or make a larger box to fit that perfect gift
~ Change up the paper design, texture, and design to fit the theme
~ Use a strong double sided tape to prevent the strawberry from splitting open