Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hello, August!: A lengthy recap of a busy July!

Hello everybody! Happy August, albeit a bit belated! It's been a while since I posted something new here, but to be fair I haven't been home a whole lot in July compared to other months; like all eventful times, this month really flew by before my eyes, but at least I had my camera with me for most of it, haha! As the days go by, I realize how important having a camera can be, even if it's not the fanciest piece of equipment. Ahh, memories! Here are some highlights of my July adventures:

My trip to Maine was definitely one of the more sentimental parts of the month because it was the first time in years that I'd been able to travel there to be with my family, something I'm sure I took for granted when I was younger. As I expected/hoped, it was a very relaxed and enjoyable visit; I stayed with my grandma during the week, my favorite moments being the chats we'd have together during breakfasts and lunches. I surprised myself with how much we talked, considering I never really chatted with her a whole lot when I was younger (maybe it has something to do with us both being quiet types and being in the context of family gatherings). It made my week so much better being able to connect like that; I miss her already!

Apart from my time with her, I spent time with my aunt and uncle and their two cats, and the rest of our time adventuring to parts of Maine I haven't explored in years! This included:

-Maine State Museum in Augusta: I've been here for years and this was one of the few years I actually absorbed some information from the placards, haha!
-Old Orchard Beach: where I had a taste of the famous Pier French Fries for the first time in years, complete with salt and vinegar
-Lake St. George: where we picnicked, tossed a ball around, and swam in the lake (I also went diving for rocks and pebbles to add to my collection)
-Gifford's Mini-Golf and Ice Cream Stand: where I won a free game of mini-golf and ate one of my favorite ice creams: Maine Black Bear, vanilla with a raspberry swirl and raspberry-filled chocolate cups. Yum!

From left to right: Lilies at my aunt & uncle's house; lobster souvenirs at Boothbay; a listing of exclusive Maine ice cream flavors at Gifford's; Woody the ham cat; a Boothbay trolley, one of several; the Maine coastline at Boothbay; the Pier at Old Orchard Beach; a view of Lake St. George; the At Home in Maine exhibit at the Maine State Museum

This year, we visited Boothbay Harbor for what was my first time, and it was such an adorable place on the water's edge! There were lots of little shops that had a very rustic country-style atmosphere; half of them smelled like balsam fir as I walked in the door, as should be expected of a Maine souvenir shop, haha. I visited one of the biggest New-Age shops I've ever been to--Enchantments--although I couldn't take any photos inside the store for security reasons. Not far away was, hands down, one of the best ice cream places I've ever been to: the Boothbay Harbor Ice Cream Factory, which had tons of delicious flavors and quite the fan following! I picked the Wild Maine Blueberry ice cream without hesitation (when in Maine, right?), and wasn't disappointed--it was chock FULL of real Maine blueberries within blueberry ice cream, and the creamy texture was unlike any other I've ever had!

This was a map with pushpins of people's home locations, so you could see how far they traveled to have a taste of Boothbay's ice cream! There was one spot left in Jersey just for me!

What else can I say about Maine without talking your ears off? Well, I can say what I've told everyone else I know: the scenery is amazing, the air is so crisp and fresh, and it feels like nowhere else I've ever visited, even after all the summers I've traveled there. It's a unique experience unlike any other; the people are kind, the rocky shore is a sight to behold, the state is dense with trees and greenery, and there's a humble calmness to the landscape that goes beyond my ability to describe it. You can drive for miles and see nothing but isolated homes, fields tall with grass, pine trees, and small local farms; while it must not be the most convenient place to be, in relation to traveling distance to supermarkets and other shops, there's something very sweet about the idea of living away from the hustle and bustle that appeals to me. I like to think you keep your sanity a bit longer that way, too! (Haha.)

After visiting Maine, I visited my home state, Connecticut, and stayed with my parents for a week while visiting some other family members as well. It was so nice to see them for a change; I guess you could say I still get a little homesick every now and then, especially the longer I visit. While in Connecticut, I:

-Visited with my grandparents and snapped pictures of their huge garden. My grandma can't garden like she used to, but luckily many of her plants and flowers grow back year after year! Her garden is filled with all sorts of interesting statues and decorations. I even found a little black cat hiding behind one of them!

Away she goes!

-Stayed with my aunt and uncle, where I got to take a trip to Stew Leonard's (possibly the most adorable market I've ever been to, complete with animatronic produce). My aunt helped me shop for my boyfriend's birthday party, and we spent an hour or so looking at all the quirky things in the nearby Goodwill, one of my favorite pastimes. We also got a chance to all play original XBox together, which is always a blast!

Faboo banana!

-Went to Chuck E. Cheese with my cousin like all grown-ups do! (Haha surrrre.) I try to make this a semi-regular thing when I stay in CT long enough to visit my cousins, since I'm the one who got them to go back in the first place. I have no shame and it's something fun to do regardless of how old you are...that's what I believe anyway!

-Threw a birthday party for my boyfriend at Smiles Entertainment Center (which is now closed for business, strangely enough). Though some of the games and things were in disrepair, we still enjoyed ourselves just being together with many of our friends, some of who even came out from Jersey to celebrate! We played laser tag, enjoyed a roller coaster simulator, and took to the DDR machines for some intense sweaty fun!

Sarah, in the groove...literally!

-Celebrated his birthday with my dad and grandparents at the Royal Chinese Buffet, probably the best Chinese buffet I've ever been to! Not only was their food selection huge and tasty, but they also played Happy Birthday for us, brought out pieces of cake with candles, and gave us cute scented seashell candles as gifts! I thought that was pretty neat, especially for a buffet!

The birthday boys: My dad, my boyfriend, and my uncle

-Stayed with my parents, watching movies with them and playing Wii games (mainly the fishing game I got for my dad for Father's Day, since his neck injury kept him from real fishing). These days, my parents aren't always in the best physical shape to go out and do things, so we usually spend more time at home together. But just being with them is nice sometimes because it gives us a chance to talk and relax; playing board games has much potential for fun too, since every now and then we like to play Yahtzee or Scattergories (and sometimes I'll make my dad play Pretty Pretty Princess with me, fufufu).

From left to right: Beautiful flowers I saw on my way back to my hometown; my first cat, Smokey; a frog prince sitting enthusiastically in my grandma's garden; singing milk cartons at Stew Leonard's; playing Aladdin on my aunt's original Sega Genesis; my friends and I at Smiles; cashing in on tokens at Chuck E.'s; birthday cake brought out for us at the buffet; the Portal cake I made for my boyfriend's birthday, half of which was accidentally discarded later on

Finally, the last of the big three July trips: Otakon 2011 in Baltimore! To date, I have to say this was probably my favorite Otakon, and one of the most ridiculous as well! Between the strange animes we saw for the first time (the US premiere of "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" and Korean short "Coffee Samurai," to name a few) and the hotel room antics, it was memorable and fun despite the humid Baltimore heat.

 Left to right: A wishing wall in the Dealer's Room (my wish); teru teru bozu/paper dango/carp kite at the Japanese Crafts for Kids panel; packing up the car for the weekend; me and my friend Rick's lobster sidekick, Bob; a fursuiter hiding among plushies in the Dealer's Room (and subsequently scaring me); a random mannequin covered in toys at the Papermoon Diner; a view of the Otakon crowd, Kylee concert, her US debut; me next to an autographed PMMM wall

Here's what went down:

-Artist Alley/Art Show: This year's artist alley really left an impression on me! It's fascinating to me to see what the trends are from year to year, who stays and goes, and what kind of new talent is being showcased for the weekend. This year, one of my current favorite plush artists, Ms. Moon of Moon's Creations, sold her Moon Buns and miscellaneous amigurumi in the Alley, and upon shopping for a friend, I just knew I had to get myself a little something eventually:

This is Tako Takoyaki! He was the second to last one she had and my personal favorite, so I snagged him up and--wouldn't you know it--I was the 100th customer, earning a free crocheted Soot Sprite! Neato!

-Kylee concert: I heard Kylee was a talented artist, but little did I know she'd be putting on such a great show at Otakon! Spirited and sweet, her songs really stood out and had us moving in our seats. Check her out for yourself!

-Coffee Samurai: This was easily one of the most bizarre "what the heck?" things I saw all weekend, for sure! Only one episode long, it's a Korean short anime about a samurai who wished to be reincarnated with a body as strong as steel, only to end up as a coffee machine in his next life. The whole room was constantly filled with laughter! Its ridiculousness struck such a chord with me that I feel inspired to cosplay it next year, even if no one recognizes me, haha.

-Craft workshop and Ota-chan: Leave it to me to want to make crafts at a convention, haha! I made a myriad of things in the children's room and craft workshop (and thankfully wasn't the only adult doing so!), and ended up dragging my friends with me to do the same. We made picture frames, origami, foam dragon portraits, and more; my youthfulness knows no bounds sometimes, haha. It was definitely worth it! Maybe I'll volunteer there next year, since I want to work with children someday and that would be a neat experience to add to my repertoire.

-Papermoon Diner: One of the most unique dining experiences I've had took place after Otakon, at the Papermoon Diner, which I remembered after having been featured on Travel Channel's Diner Paradise! Let me tell you, the walls we literally covered with random things; the ceiling fan near us was covered in old buttons, there were mannequins with old toys, magnets, and miscellaneous things stuck to them, and creepy baby doll parts in several places (including a jar of baby heads near the register). There was definitely some nostalgia seeing some of the old toys, but it was also a place I'd hesitate to eat at in the dark, haha! Very colorful place, though (there was a huge wall of Pez dispensers upon walking in), and with some great food to boot; I had the Crabbi Patty (a crab cake burger) with fries, which was simply amazing! I figured, when in Baltimore...

Not your typical diner by far.

All in all, I have to say this July was one of the most memorable and eventful I've had in many years; I was very lucky to travel as much as I did, and I'm happy to have gotten so many pictures and memories with my loved ones! I could write much more, but I've already written a novel of a blog, haha!

How was your summer, readers? Care to share any neat vacation spots or good stories?

Best wishes,
Read more

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sprouting: A new design and organization tips!

Hello everyone! Wow, can you believe that July is almost here? It may be hot and sticky at times, but there’s so much to do and explore—let’s make it a great Summer! 

Yesterday I visited my good friend Sarah G. for the first time in a while, with a belated graduation gift I had been meaning to give her before I went adventuring up north for the next few weeks. In the process of making her gift, I discovered (almost by accident) that it was a design that I wanted to pursue for my upcoming Blueberry Crumble plushies. “Happy little accidents,” as Bob Ross (one of my role models) might say! It helped me to find ways in which to improve over previous designs I’ve had, and Sarah sure seemed to enjoy her new friend. Here’s a picture:

                                                 Hello! Do you have any carrots?

The rabbit, who I tentatively dubbed “Bonnie Bun,” is a step up from its cousin Strawberry-Choco the cat; for starters, I’ve been continuing to practice embroidery, and although Bonnie’s eyes didn’t come out exactly as I’d hoped, I have a much better idea of how I’d like my dolls’ eyes to look in the future. I also learned how to do button-jointing, which I though added a cute touch to the limbs and a little more potential for posing and interaction. (Bonnie can either lay back on a nice patch of grass or assume the hug position!) I wanted to blog about the bunny doll because I felt it was a big improvement for me and the vision I had for my plushies, even though it started out as a simple gift, which is important to me—I went for months without really knowing what I wanted to do or what I wanted my dolls to look like. Hooray for small victories!

                                                  A closer view of the button jointed arm.

Slowly but surely, more space is being cleared in the second bedroom (or “craft room,” as I reluctantly call it), which is another step in the right direction. I’ve managed to get a lot of stuff off of my main desk, clearing up room for my sewing machine to be used, and cleared a lot more floor space; the cleaner it gets, the more I actually want to go in there and craft, funny enough! I think having your own personal space has a bit of sacredness to it and can be almost like an escape, depending on the atmosphere of the room. It is what you make it to be, after all! With this in mind, I set out to find some helpful tips on keeping an area organized and clutter-free, to maximize happiness and productivity—something anyone can benefit from, to be sure! Here are some webpages that stood out to me:

1. Organizing Your Craft Room:
2. Tips for Organizing Craft Room (via Country Living):
3. How To Organize Craft and Hobby Materials (via eHow):
4. Easy Organizing: Craft Supplies (via Good Housekeeping):

This is just the tip of the iceberg! Hopefully this inspires you to come up with your own ideas for organizing your own craft space and making it an easy place to work and unwind. Good luck!

That’s all for now, friends! I’ll be away from July 2nd to the 17th, so in the meantime, why not leave a comment? I’d like to hear about any Fourth of July plans you might have or any updates on your own craftstuffs! Take care!

Best wishes,
Read more

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Taste of Maine

Happy Thursday, everyone! I hope my East Coast readers (presumably all of you) aren't getting too much rain this week! Today I'm going to talk a bit about my home away from home: Maine! It's not the most popular or populous state, to be sure--in fact, I had quite a bit of trouble finding activities and events that weren't two or three hours away! However, it's special to me because not only do I have relatives up there (my aunt, uncle, and grandma), but I've also gone up there many summers since I was young, and have fond memories of the different sights we'd see and the times we'd spend playing board games and being together as a family. I still remember when I was little and we'd go to the beach and boogieboard, haha! Nothing quite like the rocky shores, the brisk air (which I swear to anyone is much cleaner and fresher), and the quaint atmosphere, even in bigger cities. This is the first year I'll have gone back in maybe 3 or 4 years, I think, and since I'll be much busier in years to come, I wanted to go there this year while I still had no job (and no reservations). So, let me take you into my memory banks as I show you some of the things that I've done in
Maine over the years (and still do...some things never change!).

Click the image to get a closer look!

#1: Maine State Museum: Located right in the heart of Augusta next to the State House, I've been here more times than I can count! I could probably walk you through several exhibits and point out little things from memory, like the sardine can collection in the Fishing exhibit, the sheen on the fake apples in barrels near an apple mill, or the gigantic water wheel that operates and changes as you move up and down several floors. I remember the glow of the gemstones in the gemstone exhibit, the giant moose in the nature exhibit (which recreates nature scenes of Maine during all seasons), the fake slab of meat in the center pit of a Native American scene, and the video of a Maine basket weaver weaving a basket painstakingly by hand (which is probably still played today!). All little things, certainly, but evidence that I've been there long enough to remember them! Historical facts...well, I could use a little brushing up on those, eheheh. It is a museum rich in culture and history, though, and something I always look forward to whenever I'm up in Maine.

#2: Lake St. George: A state park in Liberty, we would all go here for picnics every year, often under the shade of bushy-leaved trees near the lake itself. I remember I would be so impatient to get in and out of the water, it made eating lunch difficult, haha! (I must have been a fish in my past life.) One funny thing my family could tell you about me being in the lake is that I used to bring my best pair of swim goggles, swim to the bottom, and collect rocks that looked interesting or weird. I was a big rock collector, for sure. I dove down, carrying as much as I could in one hand and collecting with the other, and sometimes found big rock piles that people had built so they could stand higher above the water. (Sometimes I found schools of fish around these piles!) One time, I found a dragon necklace at the bottom of the lake that someone had dropped (who knows when and where); I kept it and still have it today! When I wasn't being a fish, I was playing frisbee with my relatives in the lake and on land, and basking in the warm glow of the sun to dry. Sometimes I even caught glimpses of animals like eels and oddly-colored squirrels (one which I caught munching on some bark really close to our table one year). I was a curious youngster. :)

#3: Miniature golf and Gifford's ice cream stand: Nothing like a good game of mini golf, and nothing like the ice cream they make at the Gifford's ice cream stand right next door! In addition to batting cages, they have a full 18-hole mini golf course with cute course designs like an ice cream truck, whale, operating windmill, covered bridge, and a clown face to end the round (I think if you get the ball in his nose, you win a free game). Some of those courses were tough, though!--especially the ones where you have to hit the ball with some, but not too much, strength. My golf balls were always attracted to gravel, haha. When we were done playing, we'd head over to the ice cream stand for a couple of scoops, which were always generous. My favorite of all time was (and is) Maine Black Bear: vanilla ice cream with a black raspberry swirl and little chocolate cups filled with raspberry syrup. There's really nothing else like it, and I always get so excited to have it again. The cups are a delicious surprise whenever I have a spoonful. I'm hungry for ice cream...

#4: Bar Harbor: We didn't go here very often because it's so far from where my relatives live, but when we did go, I never failed to have a fun time. There are lots and lots of adorable little shops along the roads, none of them chain stores (from what I can remember), each with their own unique charm; the harbor itself is very pretty, and there's something soothing and distinctly Maine about being there. One of my more interesting experiences there was at a homemade ice cream shop (there I go with ice cream again, haha), who sold lobster ice cream! Gross, right? Well, I tried a small serving of it and it actually wasn't bad, although towards the end I started to get a little sick of it. (I don't know what I would've done without the tasty vanilla ice cream backing up those lobster pieces...but then I guess I'd just have lobster, huh?) Also discovered in Bar Harbor was a soft drink called Moxie, apparently the official state soft drink. Why, Maine, why?! (Haha!) All I regret to remember was that it was strong, bitter, and reminded me of medicine. Yuck yuck. I guess there must be people out there who like the stuff if it keeps selling, right?

Oh, it's different, all right...

#5: Cadillac Mountain: Towering over Acadia National Park (which is near Bar Harbor, actually) is Cadillac Mountain, 1,528 feet above sea level! (I had to look that up, haha.) It's also the first place in the United States where you can see the sun rise, though only in Fall and Winter (contrary to popular belief). We drove up there on a paved road and walked around at the tippy top, and boy what a beautiful view! Nothing like being on a mountaintop to make you feel like a small speck in this big world! I can imagine it'd be a lovely place to watch the sun rise or set, or to spend a romantic moment with your special someone.

Everyone looks like ants from up here!

#6: Lobster fishing: Can you believe that yours truly is a bit of a seafarer? When I was younger (maybe early 2000's, if not before), I went on a day trip with my aunt and uncle to see a friend of theirs, who lived right on the coast. He took us out on his small boat to bring up some lobster traps so that we could enjoy an authentic Maine delicacy (if you didn't know, Maine and lobster go together like Kermit and Miss Piggy...okay, maybe not the best analogy, but they're inseparable!). I'll never forget how colorful the sea of buoys was! It fascinated me that there were just so many different fisherman who had traps set to catch these poor, delicious creatures. (I was also impressed by the amount of different patterns on the buoys...who knew there were so many?) Pulling up the buoys, we caught a fair catch of both lobsters and crabs (both of which I was slightly terrified, at risk of being pinched), but I got to watch the fisherman band their claws before we went back to shore and boiled them up. It was there that I learned to take apart my first lobster and savor the meat inside--lobster meat that no other has rivaled in all my years of eating lobster. I promise! There's nothing like fresh seafood...mmm mmm. I'm no Paula Deen, but with a little butter on the paradise!

#7: Big G's Deli: Okay okay, so I know I've mentioned food a lot so far...but you can't deny that part of a travel experience is the food you eat! (This coming from someone who watches "Bizarre Foods" whenever she gets a chance..) Last on my feature of Maine is Big G's Deli, a delicious restaurant not far from Waterville. I used to go there a lot (not every single day, but in terms of years), and I would almost always get their chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, which were as big as their plates! I could never finish them, in all my vain attempts..not even close. (This was back when my stomach could handle pancakes..these days, it'd be digestive suicide, uwahh.) What I liked about this place besides the pancakes was the special feeling I got when going out to breakfast with my relatives for no particular reason, as well as the atmosphere and the gigantic deli menu I got a kick out of reading; every sub (or grinder, as I grew up calling it) had a name, like The Elvis or The Kermit the Frog, and there were many different combinations, all of which I've yet to try. Apparently this place is really well-known for its good food! But I don't really care about its popularity, just the memories of going out to breakfast with my relatives. It was a staple of my visit for quite a few years!

Apart from all of those things, sometimes the best way we'd spend time together was when we played board games together, like Aggravation on a homemade board with colored marbles or Quiddler (a word card game that I hope I'm not confusing with Luna Lovegood's newspaper). Spending time at the library or at home with my aunt and uncle and their two cats was also satisfying and nice, and I'm grateful that I've been able to go visit them as much as I have and have all these fond memories of a place not many have been to. Who knows what the future holds this time around? Whatever it is, you can bet I'll be taking plenty of pictures! :)

Have a great day,
Read more

Monday, June 20, 2011


I would usually post something craft-related, but ahhhh, I made the most delicious jambalaya today! I never made it before and felt like some Southern cooking for a change, so I nabbed a recipe from this website and got cooking--don't let the 4/5 stars fool you, it exceeded my expectations by a lot! It has lots of flavor and tastes great even without shrimp (I couldn't bring myself to buy shrimp because it was so expensive). Here's a picture of my results:

Super-tasty! Ping was freaking out when he took a bite!

I recommend it 100%! Tasty jambalaya, watching The Princess and the Frog while cooking (now I want to try Tiana's pastries)...this week is off to a great start!

Read more

Friday, June 17, 2011

Where to go from here?

Hey everyone! Wow it's been months since I've updated here (again, haha), but this time I'm free of school (for now), so I have no excuses! I really should be updating more than I have been, but I won't beat myself up about it. Better to press on than have too many little regrets. I do miss regularly updating a journal, and it's nice to just type my thoughts out for a change.

Now that school is over with, I look forward to working more on cleaning up my messy craft room and getting to work on my craftstuffs for Etsy and possibly MangaNEXT in the fall. It's definitely tough making crafts when your craft space is cluttered; most of the time, I find myself bringing things into the living room rather than working on them in the craft room! Things are getting better, but there's a lot I'd like to get rid of, and I've implemented some neat fixes already--such as installing some ribbon holders on my desk and getting all of my fabric onto one cart. I'm also hoping to get a few bookshelves in there for my children's book collection, and making it into a guest room so that it can finally be a comfortable space for visitors to sleep and hang out. That is one of my biggest summer goals, for sure! :) Being organized is sometimes easier said than done, but one of my little secrets is watching the show "Clean House"--that usually motivates me to clean my apartment, haha!

There was something that happened this past weekend that really kinda hit me by surprise and has had me thinking a lot about the future of my crafts. From June 10-12, I went to AnimeNEXT as an attendee, for the first time in 2 or 3 years (I usually go as an artist to sell my crafts). I was shocked when I discovered that someone had created teru teru bozu cell phone charms almost identical to the ones I've sold there in the past; I mustered up the courage to confront them about it, thanks to the support of my friend Sarah G., and although there wasn't much I could do about it, it was clear from what they told me that they had used my picture as a direct reference for their charms. It's not that the charms are hard to make--actually, the design is generic enough that anyone can make it--but I've been noticing that it wasn't until I started selling them at AnimeNEXT and posting them online that I've been seeing them more frequently in both places. Sarah S. brought up a good example--that she and her art group were selling face masks that started a surge of imitations--and it had me wondering: what now? It's not the end of the world that other people are making and selling teru teru bozu--they're certainly entitled to. But for a long time, teru teru bozu have been kind of my..."thing." They're special to me and part of my identity, so seeing other people making them look almost exactly like mine really hurt, to be honest. It's hard to explain to some people.

It has had me thinking, however, that I should take my crafts in a new, more exclusively original direction, making crafts that are much harder for people to imitate and really ooze a personal touch. I'm thinking of making Blueberry Crumble a hub for original stuffed animals, as well as other assorted accessories and little decorations like crocheted flowers and such. (When I learn to crochet, that is! Hehe.) I already came up with a new pattern for my "Crumble Critters"--a cat!

This one, a prototype Strawberry Choco, is being sent to my penpal in Wisconsin.

I definitely think it's about time that I move towards more original work, and probably look into copyrighting and getting tags for my plushies. (Does anybody happen to know how to go about doing that, by the way?) I also hope to get in some more embroidery practice so that I can experiment with embroidering the dolls' faces, and jot down my ideas in a notebook so I don't forget them. It's a lot to do for sure, but I have high hopes that it'll work out and maybe even become a source of income somewhere down the road. :)

In other news, I'm soon going to Maine for the first time in 3 or 4 years! (In addition, I'll be spending a week with my parents, who haven't been in the best of health lately; I'll be helping them out around the house and spending some quality time with them, which has been harder to do these days.) I'll be taking a bus and train there to visit with my aunt, uncle, and grandma, and then going back to Connecticut to stay with my parents. Luckily I have the free time to do both things, since chances are I'll have at least a part-time job next year to pay for my student loans and such, so it looks like I'll have plenty of photo-ops and chances for crafting. (My aunt is into crafts too, lucky me! She does stamping, cardmaking, and crocheting!) Maybe I'll find more inspiration and work on my things there--I miss seeing my family, and trips like that are usually a great refresher. Stay tuned for cool stuff! :]

Well, that's all for now, folks! I'm looking forward to updating again soon! Hope everything is well with you and that you're enjoying your summer so far!

Read more

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wow, what a hiatus! Thoughts n' daydreams.

Hey everyone!

Man, I've been gone from this thing longer than I hoped to be! Even if school has been extremely busy, I feel bad using that as an only takes a short while to make a blog post, so I really should work on being more disciplined. I have heard that if you do something for at least 21 days, it starts becoming a habit! I wonder how true that is...

So in my time away from the crafting universe, I've done quite a bit of adventuring apart from school! Most notably craft-related is a trip to the Big Apple with my friends Sarah #1 and Sarah #2, hehe. We went in January to some interesting craft spots in NYC, with the big ones being SpaceCraft in Brooklyn, Gallery Hanahou, and Lion Brand Yarn Studio! In SpaceCraft, you pick from a menu of reasonably priced crafts, such as wooden toys, finger puppets, and brooches, and you get to use a HUGE array of supplies, and everything is included in the menu price! You get to use glitter, sequins, buttons, yarn, paint, shells...the possibilities really are out of this world! (Sorry, that was bad.)

(I did not take this photo, I found it on Google; unfortunately, I lost all the photos of that day on my camera...*sadness*)

At Gallery Hanahou, there was an exhibit on display of different plushie art...and man, was there a lot! The gallery itself was quite small, but it was filled with so many different plushies constructed of many different materials from many different get the idea. Maybe it was the diversity of it that I enjoyed the most; knowing that there really are many different approaches to art and how limitless the possibilities are. My only regret is losing all those pictures! This person's work caught my eye:

This photo was taken from and is the property of Trunk Chiyo:

After seeing her work, I knew this style really appealed to me, so I sketched and sketched for days, trying to come up with a style for Blueberry Crumble plushies that is both original and manageable (as in, time-manageable, given I don't have much time to craft as it is). To this day...I still don't know what I'm doing, haha! It's a very distressing feeling, wanting to create something original and really "your own," and not knowing where to start. It's almost like writers' block, I guess you could say. The more you try to force ideas, the less they come, which is a real pain in the patoot. But the more the days pass, the more I want to make Blueberry Crumble a reality and a nice way to generate a little extra money while I'm in school. I've considered selling nothing but teru teru bozu in a variety of styles, but I'm not sure it fits the image I first had in mind for Blueberry Crumble, and if it's something people would want to buy, despite its success in the past. These are just some of my concerns I've had these past months; I suppose finding your way isn't always the easiest thing, though, I'm sure!

For now, I'm mostly concentrating on school. Perhaps summer break will bring greater creativity? In the meantime, as Spring is finally here, I've got my mind on Spring cleaning and making what I can with what I have, rather than piling on more supplies I don't need. Taking an Environmental Studies class has started to open my mind to think more creatively too, and having me consider new ways of using things that would otherwise end up in the trash. For example, I didn't want to throw away a Styrofoam egg carton the other day, and after a brief moment of thought, I spontaneously came up with this: an egg carton jellyfish!

"Excuse me, did you happen to see a Peanutbutterfish floating by?"

(This could also be due to my service learning at a preschool--they made egg carton daffodils recently, so it kinda rubbed off on me.)

A challenge is in order, perhaps, to make one different animal for every remaining egg carton section! The game is afoot! I challenge you guys to make one too, and post it in the comments section when you do! :) If nothing more, you'll feel a little younger, haha.

If there's anything I've learned in these past months, it's to keep things simple, and to not force creativity. It'll come when it's ready, I think. (Even if I am ready for it now, haha!) I just have to keep a notepad by my side for when the occasional idea does pop up.

Happy Spring, everyone! Hope you're enjoying yourselves!

Read more

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bento love and first Feature Friday!

Hey everyone! Happy December! It's been a while since I've posted something, so I figured I'd clue you in on something I've been eager to try lately: bento! My good friend Sarah over at Saltwater Acorns has inspired me to look into this increasingly popular hobby that I consider "food art," and I've been itching to try it more and more! Right now, I'm in the last leg of my Fall semester, so I haven't really had the time to do much of anything, but an upcoming holiday party with my Craft Club cronies prompts me to give this a whirl.

As you can see, the sky's pretty much the limit with a bento box! :) These are extremely commonplace in Japan (perhaps not always as fancy as this one), but there has been quite a lot of enthusiasm for them here in the U.S.A. as well! The nice thing about bento boxes is that they're lunch for everyone. It takes a special kind of inventiveness to come up with certain creative shapes, themes, and color-coordinated lunchboxes, but you can really make one however you'd like for whoever you'd like. Businessmen, college students, and kindergarteners can all have them, and they range from easy to challenging. You can buy them pre-packaged on-the-go, or you can make one for a special someone.

Let's face did we feel as children when our parents packed our lunches for us? Maybe you had a parent or guardian who made you cute lunches that really made you smile when you got to school. I know my mom would always make me sandwiches and put cute little stickers on my lunch bag (some of which I keep even to this day!). Getting a homemade bento is something that I would imagine makes you feel really special and loved; making one for yourself can give the same effect too! :)

As someone who LOVES food (and also wants to eat better and cut down on her portions), this is something I can definitely give two big thumbs-up to. Putting the time and effort into an attractive, creative, hand-packed lunch is something you or your loved ones will remember for a long time, I'm sure! Lunch in a Box is a really extensive and fun resource for amateur and seasoned bento fans, and Bento Box is also a cute little site that covers some of the basics. Just Bento is another really good one with recipes and basics.


Before I go, I wanted to kick off a little something I call Feature Friday, where I'd like to feature an artist or crafter's work that stands out to me and makes me smile. Sharing someone's work through word-of-mouth spreads smiles and might just make you more interested in something new! Since we're talking about bento and food today, I found an Etsy shop by the name of LorettaRed, who sells all sorts of adorable food jewelry, including a few bento like this one:

Check it out! Tamagoyaki, sushi, gyoza...what's not to love?

Well, that's it for this time, guys. Hope you're enjoying the holidays so far! Today's question: What is your favorite kind of lunch? Drop me a line in the comments below! See yah!

Read more