Home About Press Crafts Recipes

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Celebrating Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day)

Every year our family celebrates the Japanese holiday Hinamatsuri which falls on March 3rd.  Hinamatsuri translates to doll festival but also refers to Girl's Day.  The holiday is a time girls are celebrated and prayed over by their families.  Part of the tradition includes displaying a special doll set for the holiday.  Our family tradition for this occasion includes giving our daughter a special gift that's Japanese related.  This year I decided to get her one of the mini Hinamatsuri doll sets by Re-Ment (pictured above).

 The dolls represent the emperor and empress.  As you might have guessed, pictured above is the emperor. 

Here's a photo of the empress beside a penny so you can get an idea of just how tiny these dolls are.  I'm always amazed with the detail of these toys considering their scale.

I found this kokeshi doll gift bag at Target which I'm going to use to wrap the gift.  Kokeshi are also Japanese dolls and can be displayed for Girl's Day as well.

Lately it seems like I've been seeing kokeshi dolls everywhere.  Has anyone else noticed this trend?  I'm even seeing more articles about Girl's Day.  In fact, I noticed a blurb about it in the March issue of Family Fun Magazine.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Time to Start Thinking About Summer Camp

Photo of my daughter building a suspension bridge.

Last year my daughter attended Camp Galileo and she absolutely loved it.  She's been proudly wearing her camp t-shirt to school all year.  She's also been relentless about asking me when she gets to go back.  I've been telling her it starts next summer but I suspect she thinks it happens every month (it doesn't but I wish it did).  Thankfully registration just opened up so I was able to tell her that I'm registering her for camp soon.

One of the fun things that comes with registration is picking out which theme or class to attend.  Each year Camp Galileo creates four themes for campers Pre-K - 5th grade.  Last year my daughter picked Celebrate the Golden Gate which delved into bridge engineering and San Francisco inspired art projects. This year's camp themes are, Medieval Adventure, African Safari, Galileo Amusement Park, and Space Odyssey. 

For grades 3rd - 5th, campers have the opportunity to attend the Chabot Space and Science Camp.  We're considering going with this option since both children are eligible for it this year.  Instead of themes, classes are offered in the following categories,  Lego Robotics, GPS Treasure Hunt, Mars Explores, and rocket lab to name a few.

If you would like to learn more about Camp Galileo, you can read about our experiences here, here, and here.  To find out all about there philosophy (very unique) and program, please visit the official Galileo site.

There's also an early bird special going on if you register for camp by February 28th, you get $20 off each week.
Disclaimer:  My children are receiving one free paid week of camp as compensation for this post series.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Announcing my Craft Book, Party Origami

I've been keeping a secret for quite sometime now and I'm so glad I can finally share it with all of you.  I created a craft book with Chronicle Books called Party Origami!  The book includes 14 origami ideas specifically created to use for parties.  What sets this book apart from other origami books is that the pieces are designed to serve a function, such as hold a place card or rest a pair of chopsticks. Included with the book are 75 sheets of origami paper. Party Origami will be available March 26, 2013.  You can currently pre-order it on Amazon.  I'm also told it will be carried everywhere books are sold in April.  

If you're curious, here's a little background about the making of the book:

A little over a year ago I was contacted by Laura Lee Mattingly (Chronicle Books Editor) about creating a party themed origami book.  Of course, I was over the moon about it, Chronicle Books creates some of the most beautiful craft books around.  Plus, a lot of their books are Japanese related which appeals to me.  I've always enjoyed origami since I was a small child and you know I like planning parties so it was a perfect fit.

The first step in the process was creating some thumbnails (tiny sketches) of my ideas for the book.   Pictured above are the first sketches I created, some ideas made it into the book, others didn't. 

After the list of projects were finalized, I had to create the instructions and illustrations for all the steps.  This was by far the most challenging part of the book process for me.  Thankfully I had two things going for me.  One I have a graphic design background and was formally trained in Adobe Illustrator.  Two, I've been writing craft directions for the past five years.  Without these key skills, I'm not sure if I could have pulled it off. 

The book comes in a cute little package that unfolds revealing the origami booklet with the origami paper sitting behind it.  Here's something you may or may not know.  Before a book is created, a prototype of the outside cover is created (imagine a book without the pages).  It's a blank white cover and it's designed to give you an idea of what the book will look like. 

Hillary Caudle designed the book layout and the origami paper.  Pictured above is a sample of some of the origami paper you will find in the book. Isn't it gorgeous?!  What's unique about this paper is that it's double sided; there's a print on one side and a solid on the other.  One of my favorite prints are the sprinkles which unfortunately I didn't get a picture of. 

If you would like to see a sneak peek of one of the projects, the Chronicle Books blog shared a post about it earlier this month, click here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

DIY Mini Postage Stamp Flags

Once in awhile a craft project will come about from something I thought I saw.  Let me explain better, a couple weeks ago I was browsing on Pinterest when I thought I saw a flag made out of stamps.  I clicked on the image to get a better look and it turned out just to be a regular flag but the idea stuck with me.  I decided to test it out with some  stamps I was collecting and that's how these cupcake mini postage stamp flags came about.

 Stamps I cut off envelopes form Hong Kong China


Stamps - Any kind will work.  If you're going to use these for a large amount of cupcakes, try choosing ones within a similar color palette. 


White Paper

Glue Stick


Scissors with stamp edge (optional)

 1. If you cut off the stamps from envelopes, you lose the stamp edge.  Go back and cut around the stamp to give it that decorative edge again.  *Optional

2.  Wrap a piece of white paper around toothpick and glue shut.  The paper should be a little smaller than your stamp when adhered to a toothpick.  If it's not, just trim off as much as needed.

3.  Glue stamp on paper.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekend Finds

Over the weekend I did a little shopping at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in San Jose, CA.  Here were a few goodies I found.

1.  Sweet Potato Pie Tea by Lupicia - About a year ago I discovered this brand of specialty teas and have been a fan ever since.  Lupicia just opened a shop in the Mitsuwa market and there was a large assortment of teas I had never seen before.  One tea in particular stood out to me, Sweet Potato Pie.  It's a loose leaf black tea and has dried sweet potato mixed in with the leaves.  The sweet potato flavor is subtle. 

2.  Melon Pocky - I've never seen this flavor before so I decided to try it.  What I didn't realize is that they're super-sized pocky.  They measure about seven inches long and look like bread sticks dipped in orange chocolate.  I prefer the texture of the original size but these were fun once.  They're the kind of thing I could see on a dessert table for a party.

3.  Washi Tape - I picked up a couple rolls of tape at the Kinokuniya bookstore.  I discovered out of all my tapes, I use polka dot prints the most. FYI, you can now get washi tape at Target (they have their own line).  Its  located by the office supplies.  It's easy to miss if you're not looking for it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Knit Dish Cloths & Smelly Yarn

Over my blog hiatus I had plans of knitting up some dish cloths.  The idea was to minimize using disposable items such as paper towels and sponges.  I had everything all planned out.  I was going to use green knit cloths for the table, beige for the dishes, and orange for the counters. Simple.

I decided to start with the green dish cloths.  As I was knitting, a heavy waft of perfume hit my nose.  Right away I knew it was coming from the yarn.  My first thought was that the yarn must have been returned by someone who uses way too much perfume or really likes air fresheners.  But what happened next really caught me off guard.   I noticed the yarn label read, "Sugar'n Cream Scents".  "Scents?  What?  Why?  Who uses this?",  were just a few of the questions that crossed my mind.   I had never seen scented yarn before but apparently it has been around for a few years now.  Who knew?

I'm curious, would you use scented yarn and if so for what?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Last, Last Minute Valentine

It must be some kind of Valentine's Day miracle because I designed, finished and made all 33 valentine's for my son's class last night.  I had planned on making candy watches but to my surprise he didn't like the idea. Instead he suggested I make the candy talk.  And to add to the challenge, I still had a bag of lifesavers to incorporate into the  cards.  What to do; what to do? 

Here's what I came up with:

I got the idea of writing on the lifesaver wrappers from the watch valentine.  Once I started drawing faces on them, I realized the hole kind of looked like a mouth.  And if you ever decide to do this, make sure to use a fine point sharpie.  I learned the hard way that micron pens do not dry well on candy wrappers.  I taped the edges of the candy wrappers back so the lifesaver stayed in place.   Then I adhered the candy to the paper with glue dots.   Last, I taped the cards closed with washi tape.

Hope you all have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine Feature in Family Fun Magazine

If you happen to have the February issue of Family Fun Magazine, my Outer Space Valentine is featured in the publication.  I know most of you have already made or purchased valentines if you needed to.  However, if you're still looking for some last minute ideas, the Parents site is sharing some of the valentines from the Family Fun Magazine.  I wouldn't recommend making thirty of any of them by tomorrow.   But if you want to make a few, there are some great ideas over there.

I actually had planned on making the watch valentine for my son's class but he told me he wants something else.  Now the question is to buy cards from the picked over valentine's rack or make 33 of something by tomorrow. Thankfully I finished all the roller skate valentines so that's one less thing to worry about.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Printable: Roller Skate Valentine Cards

I'm a little behind this year on my valentine cards but I still wanted to share what I've been up to.  The inspiration for the cards came from my daughter's new hobby, roller skating!   It also might have something to do with my childhood rollerskating memories.  I spent many weekends at the rink.  Just thinking about it makes me want to put on a pair of skates and roll to Celebration by Kool & The Gang.

These valentines are pretty easy to make.  What will take the most time is the cutting out the shapes.  So do a little hand stretches before you begin.

Card Stock in two complementing colors
Small Brads - any colors you wish
White Cotton Yarn
Hole Punch
1. Click on this image twice.  Right click, copy, save, paste in Word or any other program you use.

2. Print on two different colored pieces of card stock.

3.  Cut out all shapes.

4. Place one wheel over bottom part of roller skate.  Punch hole (refer to top picture).

5. Place brad through both holes.  Repeat for second wheel.

This is what the back of your roller skate will look like.

6.  Punch a hole in the top heart.  Thread the yarn through the hole and cut into a bow.

*Other ideas: print out on white card stock for coloring.  Add stickers.  Use heart brads instead of circles.

And now if you would excuse me, I have lots and lots of cutting to do.  See the three skates pictured above?  That's all I've made so far.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Printable Despicable Me 2 Valentines

If you're a fan of the movie Despicable Me or the minions, you're going to love these valentine printables.  Today Marie from Make and Takes is sharing the free printable for the minions on her blog.  The valentines come in four different lovable styles.  They're also easy for kids to assemble on their own. Click here for the free download and instructions.

The valentines are designed to hold lollipops but I don't see why you couldn't add any candy of your choice, exp. licorice sticks.

Despicable Me 2 is coming to theaters Summer 2013! To find out more about the movie, visit the Official Website, like Despicable Me on Facebook or follow on TwitterYou can also watch the movie teaser, here.

Disclosure: This is a Sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rested and Ready to Blog

Photo of the UNIQLO store in SF

Thank you to all of you who left such nice comments on my last post.  And thank you for understanding that I needed to take a break from blogging.  Now I'm back, rested and ready to blog.  Over the break a lot of ideas have been percolating in my mind and hopefully that will transfer into some good craft tutorials.  Until then, here's a little bit of what I was up to when I was gone.  

I finally got a chance to check out the new UNIQLO store in SF (pictured above).  Don't you just love those rainbow stairs?  The store is awesome and a little overwhelming.  There's a lot to look at there.  FYI, they don't carry the kids line.

I tried to teach my daughter to knit.  She was able to cast on pretty easily.  She even understood the process but her little hands could not hold the needles well while she knit.  If anyone has any recommendations for teaching a child to knit, please share!  

My daughter and I finally made one of the sewing projects she got for her birthday.  It was a bug pencil topper.  She has decided sewing is much easier than knitting.

I knit a hat!  It's been unusually cold where we live and I was able to use some of my yarn stash to knit a cozy wool hat.  It's loosely based off of this pattern.

I was able to be more spontaneous.  Instead of planning play dates at the park, we just went there if we wanted to after school.  There was no scheduling going on.   

I organized my desk.  Somehow my sketchbook disappeared and was replaced by a sea of sticky notes with cryptic writing and pictures.  I transfered all of it to a sketchbook and now have it at my desk again.  

What have you been up to the past couple weeks?


Zakka Life has moved to a new site!

Click here to visit the new site.