Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve, Knock Knock

It was Christmas Eve, and a balmy 50 degrees. Candles were lit and the tree was blinking in all its three foot tall fiberoptic glory. The scent of vanilla spice soy filled the air. Homemade egg nog waited in the fridge and molasses cookies were cooling on the counter. Strains of Christmas guitar wafted across the house. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door.
Yeah, sort of. Its my neighbor bearing the world's most awesome Thai beef salad. Whoohoot!!! Jose and the kids don't like it as much as me because its so spicy, it makes your nose run. It is one of my favorite things to eat in the world.
Merry Christmas everybody!

the final copy

Here are the two little things that I made for the neighbors. I made the pocket for the notepad a bit bigger so its easier to slide in, and generally went more slow and careful. They are fun to make, actually!

The "Palm Pilot"

Well, one of the neighbors, actually a middle school teacher, came over with a gift for each boy :) a couple of nights ago. Now, I felt a bit bad, since we did not have anything planned to give them and they are actually a nice couple. (Ahem - she is a nice person even though she once yelled that she would like to take a rifle and shoot all of the stray cats here in Ikego, and who in the double hockeysticks is feeding the damn things anyway - oops!)
Anyway, I decided to make this "Palm Pilot", one for her and her husband, using some scraps I had around, and throw them into a gift bag with some treats. Whew.
I can see that I posted the pics backwards, but you can see how I made it if you see the bottom pic first.
1) Cut out two rectangles 8x10.5. Use a water soluble ink pen to draw the lines.
2) Cut out one piece 5x1.75 and one 6.5x5.25 inches. Make sure the fabric print is aligned the way you want it, bot like I never did :)
3) Press a tiny fold around the edges of each small piece and sew onto inside facing fabric
4) Place the two large rectangles right sides together, and sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance most of the way around leaving 3 or 4 inches.
5) Turn it inside out, iron and hand sew the gap with a blind stitch.
6) Sew on the ties - use bias tape for a shortcut.

pilot palm pilot

The first one I made was a bit crude. You can see in the top pic, the print of the pen holder is sideways! So, that is my new one. I've been carrying it around everywhere in case I get a thought or grocery list to write down in it. And, I don't have a real palm pilot.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Passion Tea

They call it Passion Tea. It is made from various herbs and is red like blood...drink it slowly and with intent....wish me luck!

goofy gals

Silly girls throw on a pair of donated skirts over their clothes and do a little salsa!

More Second Hand Rose

Somebody found a beautiful watercolor painting that took the letter's of Jenny's name and painted them with birds, colorful flowers and bamboo stalks. It was perfect for her office. Her son Sammy has been a fixture at the shop as well. They are quite strict Baptist actually and also home-school him - he is a sweet and usually quiet little fellow, who will sometimes spend days with us, watching educational DVD's or curled up with some donated books about his latest topic of interest: right now, sharks.

Second Hand Rose

I love to volunteer at the Second Hand Rose. Lately, we have had a wonderful bunch of women who have gotten to be a nice group of friends. Over the past few years. employees and volunteers have come and went, and the ambiance changes with each group. But one thing has stayed the same: Jenny, the tiny, sweet little Filipina who has been the manager.

We just had a potluck Christmas lunch and party and with the mix of people we have now, we had an awesome bunch of food: Filipino dishes, Puerto Rican, an awesome coconut flan from Zonie (I don't know where she's from but she speaks Spanish with Brunnie, and most of the time I can understand what they are saying unbeknowst to them - ha ha), a fabulous bunch of desserts along with some ole American classics like baked ham and bean dip.

I was a "secret Santa" for Mari - here she is holding up the table runner I made for her. The rules were that we couldn't spend much on our gifts - they had to be something we bought from the shop or something we made or whatall. Mari has just recently moved here and craving something red, or something Asian-themed for her place.
It was nice to have everyone together at one time, decorate the shop more than usual, and see everyone dressed up a bit - more than the usual jeans and sweatshirts we wear to the shop!

gaijin sweater hijinks

So I had this fabulous red sweater that I found at a thrift or "recycle" shop here in Japan. It was on sale for only 300 Yen. I can't read of course but I saw the "wool" picture on one of the tags, and it was a very soft and bright red sweater.
The little thing hung in the closet for a few months because I realized that as much as I loved it, the darn thing was just too tight across the shoulders and very short on the arms as many Japanese tops are, at least for me.
Ok, it was not going to button across the waist either.
So I finally cut the poor thing up and made a pillow cover out of it.

puppy chow

Looks like puppy chow, but tastes so awesome that our whole family was scarfing it down constantly and making the real puppies whine, bed and even dance on their hind legs!
Puppy Chow
1 box of Chex Cereal
1/2 jar or about 1 cup peanut butter
1 pkg semi sweet chocolate chips
as much powdered sugar as you like
We microwaved the chips until melty and stirred in the peanut butter. There were a few chips left whole but they soon melted as we were stirring. Then drizzle over the chex mix which is waiting in a huge bowl. Mix with your hands. Gently nudge the dog away with your foot and say "No Beg" gently but firmly. Toss with powdered sugar to coat.
While you are stirring, accidentally flick a big chunk of the mixture on to the floor and watch as the dog takes off running to the farthest corner of the house and the little Peke trails after her.
Let it cool completely and put in an airtight container.
I got this from my mom years ago.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Do you like green eggs and ham? Perhaps my young nephew will try them, in a box, with a fox, in a train, in the know...

A special guest at English Club

Well, the pictures might be a bit blurry, but I couldn't resist posting them for the Dinosaur and Cookie Grandma! Frankie is such a good and dutiful son. Can you see him in these pics?? It only cost me 500 yen for his services. I must admit he fits the Japanese men's Santa Suit very well. He had a red sack with a present for each child: a glittery Japanese gift bag with three small playdoughs, a Christmas pencil from Vicki, some cute little treats from the moms. They loved it. And, he did admit that he had alot of fun. Dear Gott! What happened to my hair that day?!? Ah, well, the memories...

Christmas party at English Club Apple

We made Christmas ornaments from some foam trees I picked up at Michael's when we went back to the States. Some of the Moms helped me set up a table so that 30 kids could each frost and decorate their own sugar cookie in the shape of a tree. Vicki team-taught with me and led them through a "Cake Walk" with pictures from that day's lesson, and the prize was a sticker, which they liked.
Of course, we sang songs!

So Fricken' Cute!

Oh, I have fallen in love with this new crafty blog and have just stolen this pic from I would have asked permission, but you know...that's not how I roll...Anyway, its her pic.
There are some cool things here. First, she and her children cut out the welcome letters and put them on their front door. Can I say, what a great door? The letters are made from the self-adhesive shelf paper, like they have at the NEX. Now, wouldn't that make a cute entry sign on a government house little metal door like ours? I thought so. Now for making the letters look good...another thing to think on...
Ok, then there is the little elf hat made form felt. A person can see how it could be cut out and easily sewn. I don't think my 13 year old or 10 year old would be caught wearing it.
Then the ole 1977 book, the Great Thumbprint Drawing Book. That was in my heyday. I mean, my peak years! I am thinking this would be a great idea for the English class.
Anywhoo, that is the pilfering and commentary for today.

rainy day blah!

It's December now and time for the Gomez family to get the winter yucks - sore throat, cough and colds that we pass back and forth a while. Each boy has been home from school a day or two.
Frankie was the sickest but after some prednisone and albuterol is now back to his old self. Nate has a cough but is just fine for school the last couple of days.
Jose and I have had a bit of runny nose, headache and mild sore throat thing for the last week and a half. Not bad really, just bad enough to go about our normal activities but whine a bit and feel tired. Er, more tired that usual.
Its been a good excuse to curl up on the couch with some coffee, hot tea (Good Earth Original, my favorite and which I can't get here so brought from home - nice, hot and spicy - yum!) and my latest cross stitch.
This one is also all in sepia tones. I might end up going blind from all this brown brown brown! It is from an on line shop, the pattern is of a Dad holding a new baby. So sweet! It looks like a photograph but does not show the Dad's face, so it could be Jose.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to me! Dec 10 in Japan

Happy birthday to me,

happy birthday to me,

happy birthday to meeeeeee,

happy birthday to me!

Whoo Ate the Roof?!?!?

OK, whooo ate the roof off of one of my gingerbread houses??
I have my suspicions!

Dec 10 English Class

Maybe I'm feeling a bit giddy because its my birthday today, but I'm so excited for my English class I can't stand it. We are going to read the story of the Little Gingerbread Man, and if the four tiny little girls in the class seem into it, I have some things ready to act out the story: a neckerchief, bowl and spoon for the little old woman, these pretend felt gingerbread men, a felt pig and horse and cow puppet...the only thing missing is the sly fox....hint hint....
And some mini gingerbread houses! And lots of candy! I may have gone overboard on the candy...
Ok, ok, I know. I have to remember that I'm there to teach the children some English, not play and go through my own second childhood!

funky etsy shirt madness

Ok, so people who know me know that I looove thrift store shopping, and recycling and reusing things in general. I like finding the unique piece of clothing and the jeans that are already broken in, the cool old lamp or vintage obi from the recycle shops here in Japan. I love to shop but always want to keep my "consumerist" ways to a minimum and try doing something better for the environment. Heck, maybe I just have the "freak flag" and not afraid to fly it! (insert polite laughter here if you've ever seen The Family Stone).
Anyway, I was on a couple of weeks ago looking for altered clothing, and couldn't believe the creativity that I saw there! People taking ordinary t-shirts and adding details of their own invention, or cool old collars and ruffles and embroidery and appliques. I ordered this top form Rebecca's Art Closet.
Please ignore the flab in the waist area!! I try to! This is the shirt that came, along with a hand-written note and a little wool pin she made in the shape of a teal colored flower. So cute!

Chistmas crafty goodness

I am finding so much Christmas crafty goodness on the net its unbelievable. Yesterday I was home all day with the tall one, who has had allergy trouble here in Japan for ...oh...a year. He got a cold bug on top of it and was quite wheezy yesterday, and coughing. He spent the day on the watching Discovery channel and solving murder mysteries from the couch, eating cheese and crackers and drinking vast quantities of juice. Poor chap had a bit of a fever so in between solving homicides, he snored lightly. The dogs curled on alongside him.
In the meantime, I found a use for the christmas scraps I found at Swany's in Kamakura last year at this time, and never used. For a good fabric pennant tutorial, check out:
for some cute free embroidery patterns, check out:
for more crayon roll madness, check out:
Poor little bear is on some medicine and feeling much better this morning!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Let's All Color!

Ok, so I was on my favorite shopping website, when I ordered a crayon caddy for my sweet nephew Peter Henry, with his name sewn on it. I realized that I could probably make my own, so I found a free pattern on line and this material from Swany's, and here it is. I love the ones people make and there are many different variations that I've seen. It actually makes me want one although I haven't colored with crayons in years.

I made this one for Noah, who is three. I modified the pattern so it is thicker and holds a full 24 pack of crayons, plus the glue stick we always need. I made a few mistakes and a person can tell its homemade, but I think Noah would be ok with it. Even if the poor tyke doesn't like to color, he'd better like it!! Anyway, I looked for larger crayons for toddler age but the nex was all out of those.

Then I went nuts and bought some material thinking of the little boys and girls in my English class, some pink with little cakes and candies and berries on it, and some blue with teddy bears having a picnic on it. Now, I don't know what I'll do with that material...

everybody loves Shadow

This is my latest little embroidery project. My neighbor L was in bed with some kind of virus - a fever, feeling cruddy all week. So I sent one of the boys over with cookies. I like to do kind things for other people but then get embarrassed when they are thanking me, so I often have one of the kids go over. Isn't that funny?
Her dog Shadow is really a role model for how I wish my dogs would act. I know Natsumi is only six months old and Cricket is a Pekingese and therefore the little prince of the house. But Shadow is such a big, gentle old soul. He is a chow-lab mix and has a fuzzy black bear head and tail, and the rest of him is kept neatly trimmed. He is our favorite early morning walking buddy here in Ikego.

owl just have another smidge of that dough

Well, I have been on a bit of a diet this last month, and lost almost 12 pounds so far. My clothes fit much better and that has been great. I haven't even felt very deprived. I've been on the South Beach Diet base on the Internet and library book.

At this point, I've basically been eating lots of veggies, meats, dairy, fruit and some complex carbs: whole grains, etc.

There have been a few compromises I've felt necessary to make here, and one is cookie dough. No stay at home mom and navy wife can be expected to do this thing here without a bit of cookie dough. Today I made chocolate chip cookies and had to have some dough. Just a wee jumbo smidgen of dough.

I could eat it out of the tube with a spoon, I love it so much. Mmmm! So here I am surfing the net, feeling a bit full and gross actually, while the dogs watch the Fox Crime channel. Good times!

Well anyway, to celebrate the first ten pounds I made this little owl fellow. He is a bit lopsided, you can see. But hey, alot of "us" are!