Saturday, December 27, 2008

Survival Confirmed

I am back from California. ^-^

I am also still alive, despite the best efforts of low-altitude air turbulence. -,-'

And also, Xmas is FINALLY over. Finally. >w<

Back later with a post about making stuff that glows. :D

Sunday, December 14, 2008


*Like persimmonius, not really a word.

There is a new camera in the family.


This excites and pleases me beyond all measures. At long last, I don’t have to use my ancient 3MP, 2x-zoom, fresh-batteries-last-five-minutes, flash-is-dead, low-exposure, why-can’t-the-ISO-ever-reach-100-for-the-love-of-god Sony. To be fair, Sony, I really liked you. You could take a decent picture if it was high noon on a sunny day and everything in the frame was absolutely stationary and nothing of a bright red hue was present in the immediate vicinity. But now you suck. Into the backup bag with ye. *clunk*

Hello, Olympus! I’mma call you “Ollie.” :D

In honor of Ollie For the purposes of a company Christmas party, there was some pie-making yesterday. The pie was required to have a Christmas flair about it, so my usual repertoire (apple, pumpkin, lemon) was of no use. Fortunately, there exists a lovely (read: extremely easy) recipe for cranberry pie.

I figured a cranberry pie must be really sour and tangy. The recipe is too easy, something has to be wrong with it. Maybe the pie bubbles over or burns easily or turns bitter. Something.


Easiest damn pie ever.
Delicious as all hell.

I tweaked the original recipe just a little, and here it is:

Cranberry Pie

2 cans (16oz) of whole-berry cranberry sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 pie crust in 9” deep-dish pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together (except the crust in the pan, obviously) until there are no visible clumps of sugar or spices, and the buttery bits are small and evenly dispersed in the sauce. Pour cranberry filling into your pie crust; leave the fill level about a 1/4 inch from the absolute top, because the filling does rise a little bit. Bake pie in the preheated oven for about an hour, or until crust looks done.

If you want to decorate the top, you can make cut-outs from extra pie dough, bake them on a pan for a few minutes, and then put them on the finished pie. Or use chipped nuts; walnuts and pecans taste good with cranberries.

Optionally, I imagine you could top the nearly-finished pie with butter crumbles and it’d be similarly fantastic, if not more so:

Butter Crumbles

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Put everything in a bowl and stir it together until it’s crumbly. Put it on top of an open-face pie about ten minutes before it’s done and return crumble-topped pie to the oven for the rest of the ride.

Yay pie, yay camera. うれしい〜!>w<

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Waiting

Dear thing that I put into the oven, have you become pie yet?


Not yet, I see.

Oh thing-in-the-oven, you disappoint me so. -_-

Back in short order~

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Basic Geometry II

Welcome back to math class. :D
Actually, no.

In addendum to the Easy Softie Ball in 12 Pieces, there exists an even easier way to make a ball in six pieces. The 6-piece version, like the 12-piece, only requires the copying and cutting out of one form, but there are only half as many copies to make. Ergo, easier. Yay!

Now, if you're interested in the math behind the form, a 6-piece from peels is actually a little more complex than a 12-piece from pentagons. The 12-piece ball isn't actually a ball in Euclidian geometry: it's a dodecahedron that becomes a ball when you sew it up and stuff it because the pressure of the stuffing inside applies evenly across the planes, seams, and vertices. The 6-piece ball, on the other hand, is an actual, true sphere in design and execution. This is because it employs the relationship between the circumference and diameter of the circle formed by the cross section of the final sphere at maximum diameter.

And you thought this was a post about softies. >w<

By now, you might be asking "hey Ku, what am I supposed to do with all these plush balls?"

Here is your answer:

Inexpensive, unbreakable, toddler-safe Christmas ornaments. Ta-da~!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reiteration (繰り返し)

As mentioned previously...

Hi thar. If you have arrived here whilst looking either to translate some prose into or out of Japanese, I should very much enjoy being of assistance. I love translation, and I need challenges -- many challenges -- to maintain mental acuity nihongo de. Pop me a comment in the most recent post and I'll get on it.

Just a reminder. :D

ALSO, to the people who keep showing up on my patrol list but never ask me anything:

"Inu," meaning "dog,"
in hiragana: いぬ and in kanji:

"What time is it in Japan?"
Nihon de ima nanji desu ka?
...or in hiragana: にほんでいまなんじですか?
...or with kanji: 日本で今何時ですか?

"Shishi," meaning "lion" in the mythic sense,
in kanji: 獅子

New pattern tomorrow, イエ〜イ >w<

Thursday, November 27, 2008

“I was told there’d be biscuits.”

...and there are! :D

EDIT: Okay, as of September 2010, I have finally found the original paper copy of this damn recipe and have fixed it. The actual amount of milk is 3/4 cups. If you are using soy milk, per the lovely Calista, you will likely need one and one quarter cups of it.

They were born from the barely legible photocopy of a recipe, originally produced on an electric typewriter, handed out in seventh grade home economics class. The amounts of each ingredient were written entirely in teaspoons and fractions thereof, I suppose as an exercise to teach seventh-graders the conversion from teaspoons to cups and tablespoons. (We had yet to be visited by the saving grace of online unit-conversion sites, nor even desktop converter widgets.)

The title of the recipe is “Delicious Biscuits.”

The title is correct.

So delicious are the biscuits, in fact, that I have been compelled to keep safe the original page for more than a decade, render the teaspooniness out of it, and at long last commend it to the open internet where it can spread its powers of biscuitry to the ends of the earth.

Here y’all go:

Delicious Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted*
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

*can switch to 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup wheat flour if desired; increase milk to one cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) together in a bowl. Add the shortening and cut it in with a pastry cutter or a fork until it’s in small enough crumbly pieces that it sorta vanishes into the dry ingredients. Add the milk all at once and stir it in to make a sticky dough. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times. Roll dough to about 0.5 inch thick (or a little thinner) and cut out circles with a cutter or a floured glass. Place biscuits on a baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until biscuits are lightly browned and delicious-looking.

Godspeed, biscuits. Godspeed.

(Happy Thanksgiving! 感謝祭おめでとう!)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pants. (a 'brief' essay)

When people in the US say "pants," we're making reference to things like blue jeans, slacks, trousers, etc. The outermost layer of clothing that covers one's legs.

They look like this:

Elsewhere, this is not necessarily so.

For example, when folks in the UK say "pants," they are speaking of underpants. (Tightie-whities, boxers, briefs; you know what I mean.)

These things:

As a matter of fact, I have it from a reliable source (read: a JET from London) that when a British person of a certain age and subculture wishes to describe something (say, a cheap beer) that we might call "crappy" or "bullshit" in the US, they may choose the phrase "this beer is pants" to express their displeasure.

Naturally, I find this hilarious. Especially because it pertains to Japanese culture as well.

Many Japanese words are derived from the western pronunciation of the very same word. Some examples:

ketchup --> kechappu --> ケチャップ

coffee --> kouhii --> コーヒー
(note that the lack of a pronunciable "f" means that all F's become airy H's in Japanese)

personal computer --> pasonaru konpyuuta --> パソコン
(shortened to "pasokon" for ease of pronunciation)

Ergo, should you find yourself suddenly lacking a word in Japanese conversation, you may very well be able to fudge your way through by simply stuffing the equivalent English term through the filter of Japanese pronunciation.

Or not.

Having been adopted from the Queen's English before it was a term en vogue in the States, in Japan the word "pants" (pantsu [パンツ]) has retained its UK references. That is, "pantsu" refers to underwear, just as it does in the UK. If one wants to say "trousers," one should use the word zubon (ズボン).

American students forget this all the time.

Sure enough, led into a false sense of security by the comfort of so many English pronunciations translating directly into Japanese, most US students of Japanese language are doomed to commit a thousand errors with the word "pants" through the course of their linguistic exploration.

"I've got the room key in my underwear pocket."

"Hey, cute underpants. Are they new?"

Upon spilling coffee:
"Damn. Stained my underpants again." infinitum. There are, of course, many other tricky words that don't mean the same on the J-islands as they do in the states, but "pants" will forever be my favorite.

"Please pardon the small puddles on the floor.
I have only just come in from the rain,
and the cuffs of my underwear are wet."

Heh, brief. Get it? Brief essay? (In any case, back shortly...)
Lulz, shortly. *snrk*

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Since 1968

Selvidge Middle School, Nov 4th, 7:00AM: Missourians gather to cast their votes.

Despite long waiting times and a cold morning, we watched for an hour and a half as not one person left the line. An old man came in a folding chair and sat just beyond the limits of the no-electioneering zone, wearing Obama pins and handing out leaflets to anyone who showed interest. "I've been waiting for this day since 1968," he told us.

I have never been so proud of my nation as I am today.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Lo, Samhain! Tonight's for gathering with friends and a fire, and maybe the extra candy from the night before.

But first, Halloween pictures. Hah.

Rachel; an Egyptologist, and David; a mummy. Both are awesome. They introduced me to the big crazy costume party in the central west end, whereupon the following images were collected.

The whole Mushroom Kingdom turns up in St. Louis. (Bonus points for giving the Toad costume to the biggest guy in the group.)

Going to a costume party with your buddy dressed like Goose and Maverick would be acceptable effort, but these doods built themselves a goddamn cardboard fighter and wore it all night. F*cking impressive, gentlemen. XD

I am a Carmen Sandiego nut, and I think I scared this poor girl. Much to my disappointment, no-one came dressed as Inspector Gadget... we could have had an epic battle of early-90s crime-themed cartoon characters.

Why dress up like a vampire or witch when you could be the happy lady from the Honey Bunches of Oats commercials? I bet Michael Phelps wishes he'd thought of that.

A vampire apple and a battered banana. No, I don't know why, but damnit, I liked their style.

Thanks, guys. I'd never get out of the house if it weren't for you. :D

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Devil Rays versus the Red Sox. Game seven of the ALCS. Tonight's victor faces the Phillies for the World Series title.

...and I would care, if only it were the Cubs. ;_;

Ku's Chi-town loyalties aside, rays are cute. Cute things get turned into softies.

A new softie pattern, イエイ〜 Quite easy, just two pieces back-to-back. Make a big one to serve as a pillow for your favorite Rays fan. Or for your least-favorite Steve Irwin fan.

Stingray in Japanese is えい、which comes out ei in romaji, which should sound something like "eh-EE" if you're pronouncing it from English, which, incidentally, is identical to a common cry of celebration that appears in the Cajun dialect.

I envision one Japanese tourist who, upon visiting New Orleans, finds himself pondering why the colorful zydeco bands on the street corners keep yelling "STINGRAY!" between long passages of gnarled French.

And then I don't feel so bad about the Cubs. -_-

100 years and counting, buu.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ワンワンなど (short post)

(hiragana: いぬ)
dog, canine

(hiragana: わんわん)
Japanese onomatopoeia for a dog's bark

an endearing term for a little dog, similar to "doggie" in English

A little softie dog, based on a pattern by the clever Runo, Japanese dollmaker. You can find the pattern on her blog, right here.

Back soon~

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Birds and Beads


One last image from the Japanese Festival:

This little bird, likely a female Anna's hummingbird, appeared in the welcome center and promptly started snacking on a flower arrangement. The staff set up a little feeder (should the flowers run dry of nectar), and the bird happily hovered over the crowd all afternoon.

蜂鳥: hachidori (hah-chee-doh-ree)
Hummingbird; literal translation is "bee bird."

And now, back to the show.

I have some beads here, and some thread. Beadweaving ensues. :D

Some really, really old CDS rings that Ku made in, I dunno, maybe middle school. -_-;

While you can find all manner of beadwork tutorials on the internet, I haven't yet come across one for conjoined daisy stitch. Ergo, I'mma make one meself.

The two are only slightly different:

CDS is stronger and more compact than regular daisy stitch because each flower shares its east and west petals with the one next to it.

This allows flowers to overlap:

...or, you can divide individual flowers with pillars of a counter color, たとえば:

In any case, here's how to do it:

All you need are some beads, some string of a gauge small enough to go through those beads, and a thin needle to help you get said string through aforementioned beads. ビーズ、糸、と針しかいらない。簡単でしょう? ^-^

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Basic Geometry


HAPPI BAASUDEI, お誕生日おめでとうございます!★d(o⌒∇⌒o)b☆

Happy Birthday to Rachel, the lovely lady on Humphrey street who brews kombucha for all her friends, and who baked her own tragically delicious birthday cake. I say "tragically" because it's all gone now. ;_; That was damn fine cake, Rachel. Majide.

And now for something completely different:
A Scotsman on a horse.

No, actually, it's a pattern. Yes, I am still making patterns! I would probably have them up more often, if only I stopped making things and focused instead on writing up how to make things for a while. Also, if my camera worked better.

This is one of several techniques to make a sphere in fabric. It's one of the more decorative methods, because you can pick twelve different colors and it comes out looking all colorful. It is also very easy, because there is only one pattern piece to cut out. Download the pattern sheet (with instructions) and see for yourself. I'mma put up some process pictures, just for fun:

Inside-out, with a gap for turning...

...turned right-side-out, and getting stuffed.

Simple, right? At the stuffing phase, if you want to make your ball extra special for any pets or children that you may intend to present it to, try sinking a little rattle or jingle bell into the very middle of the ball and stuff all around it.

A rattle is simple enough to make; just get a film canister and put some rice/beads/pebbles inside. A jingle bell is only marginally harder to set up, because if you just put a bell into the stuffing, it won't jingle, but if you put the bell into a film canister, you can't hear it very well. The solution is to cut small holes in your container, or get these:

Some (but not all) medicine bottle caps come with holes already formed into the sides. Just put a little bell inside two caps, tape them together, and you'll have a nice clear-ringing jingle mechanism.

それでは、楽しみしてね。Go have a ball!

...AUGH, I said it. I tried so hard not to make that pun... チェクショ〜ウ。>,<

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Short Note - 小さなノート

(Yes, I have patterns to post. Come back in 5 hours.)

I notice a lot of folks who find this blog from a search engine are looking for help with Japanese language. They're either trying to find a word in hiragana, or looking for translations between English and Japanese.

If you, your personal self, are looking for such information, you can just drop me a comment at the bottom of a recent post. I'm always up for translating stuff. (It's the best practice I can get out here in misery Missouri.) If you're a language student, that's great, too* -- we can do practice conversations over IMs or Skype.

So don't be shy. :D

*If you're a language student just looking for a dictionary, please do treat yourself to the lovely Jim Breen WWJDIC. Draw-in kanji lookup is here, paragraph/page translation is here.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Japanese Festival 2008 (the aftermath thereof)

I am a goddamn Bon Odori dancer. Oh hell yes. d(>ω<)b

Ku is somewhere in this picture.

The Missouri Botanical Garden held it's annual Japanese Festival this past Labor Day weekend, and for the first time evar (EVAR~!) I got to participate. ^-^

My younger sister and I are first-year members of a local Tozan Ryu group (for dancing, not shakuhachi), and we were privileged to perform dances for the Obon festival along with the rest of the troupe and about 200 festival attendees who, bravely, accepted sensei's challenge to dance along with us.

(お盆) is the big autumnal holiday in Japan. It's similar in intent to Dia de Los Muertos in Mexico, but different, of course, in style and execution. Obon comes with its own special music called ondo (音頭) and a collection of dances that are simply referred to as Bon odori (盆踊り), literally, "Obon dances." There are songs and correlating dances about all kinds of things, including (but not limited to) famous cities, coal miners, fireworks, traditional clothing, wishes for good fortune, and Pokemon.

Yes, Pokemon. And many other anime.

Besides dancing, there were lots of other lovely attractions as well:


...and bonsai...

...and fans of kimono...

...and adorable Asian children...

...and a master of the deceptively difficult Japanese koma tops...

...and origami...

...and a f*ck ton of Niki de Saint Phalle sculptures which are on loan to the gardens and have nothing to do with the Japanese festival, but were still photographically interesting...

...and more cosplayers than there should have been, so I didn't take pictures of them. XD

I hope you've all had an equally lovely weekend. If you should find yourself near St. Louis this autumn, please consider visiting the gardens; they're fantastic. 超すばらしい〜

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Back on the tracks, the trains are in~"

EDIT: Please note that the correct address for sending in your stuff to the WUA is as follows:

Warm Up America! Foundation
2500 Lowell Rd.
Gastonia, NC 28054

If you poke around on their website, you might find the address mistakenly written for Ranlo, NC. Gastonia is the correct city.

♪Where in the world in your head have you been~♪

All Spies for the Moon lyrics aside, I have been writing, cleaning, and bumbling around with string/yarn; IE, not committing acts of blog. Sorry.

Here are the things I've being doing instead:

I made a little blanket...

...and some silly panels for an afghan...

...and a cup muffler.

I also danced Bon Odori (盆踊り) on stage for the first time, and didn't fall down. :D

Let's back up to those afghan panels. The following is targeted at all the knitters and crocheters (or "hookers," as is the term in vogue) out on the internet, as well as to anyone who would like to learn.

Would you like to help the needy AND get some stitch practice AND ALSO use up the dregs of your yarn stash?

If so, my friend, then the Warm Up America project says hello and good day to you, sir or ma'am; I believe we shall be excellent company for one another.

Make blankets (and other stuff) for people in need.

Knit or crochet 7" by 9" panels. Make as many as you want. Any stitch, any yarn.* Send them all in to the WUA, or find a local site that is collecting them. (Our local library is doing this - I've seen it at the hospital and a bank counter, too.) The folks at the WUA will put the panels together to make full-sized afghans for shelters and support foundations. (Alternately, you could put them together yourself if you find you've made enough.)

Everybody. People who need warm stuff get warm stuff. You get to knit/crochet. Old yarn gets used up = you have room (and an excuse) for new yarn. You don't bury your friends in eight billion more knitted things than they could possibly ever use but are too kind to give away.

I'm gonna chart the pattern for that cup muffler and put it up here. Good practice for working in the round. Until then, 楽しみしてね!

*the WUA asks that you please don't combine wool with non-wools in any single object, and that you kindly label panels made of real wool, because wool felts and shrinks if you throw it in the wash. (Superwash wool is probably okay.)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Best Website Ever, explained

Once upon a time, Ku went GISing around the 'net for some pictures of chickens, as she sometimes does, because she likes chickens.

All of a sudden, this appeared on the screen:

behold, "Ninjia Chicken" -- look closely, as there are manifold levels of incredibleness to be discovered

Naturally, Ku found this absolutely hilarious. She was soon on the homepage of Everyday Chicken, clicking about on all the awesomeness thereupon. For example, there was also:

...Skater Chicken...

...Architect* Chicken...

...and even this powerful reflection on chickenhood, one that speaks to our own existential quandaries.

Ku could not help but wonder, where did this site come from? Who drew the chickens? Why? Email did ensue.

Dear Webmaster,

While looking for reference images for roosters, I did a GIS for "chicken gallery" and came up with your site.

AWESOME. Pure win. Seriously, this is hilarious. How long have you had this site up? Do you still update? (And how old were you when you started it?) I'd love to hear the story behind it... anyway, thanks for this little gem. Definitely worth the (tiny) bandwidth.

Your New Fan,

PS: I'd like to put in a request for a "pierat chicken" to go next to "ninjia chicken," please. XD


Sorry for the delayed email and thanks very much for sending me ideas for new chickens. It really is fun when someone sees my website and takes the time to send me an email requesting more. =) I have had this website up for a while (about four years) and have received two requests (including yours).

When I created the website I think I was ten but my dad did all of the programming stuff, I just provided the drawings!

The first request was for the super chicken, and now the second is for the 'pierat'! I unfortunately haven't updated it very recently partly because I haven't really had a motivation, but now I do because another person wants more chickens.

In fifth grade art class we were asked to draw a farm scene. I asked a friend of mine (Mike) to draw a chicken and it looked very funny - though it didn't look much like a chicken. We had fun later in the year drawing chickens for the holidays.

Anywho thanks again for sending me an email, because I might not have the chicken up soon because I'm on summer break so I put the picture in this email. =P

Hope you enjoy,
Robert L. Pringle (like the chip [but I'm not related =( ])

And that is the story of Everyday Chicken, the Best Website Ever.

~The End~

*I suspect this is in fact Archaeologist Chicken, or perhaps Architect Chicken is curious as to whom could have left bare footprints in the loose soil of his construction site, when health and safety standards clearly state that steel-toed boots must be worn at all times.

I will really, seriously get back on-topic soon. For certainly. Next post, I swear.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Best Website Ever

Currently, I am convinced that it is this.

(Back on-topic with an update soon.)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Barack Alpaca?

I have yet to make a donkey to compliment the softie elephant. However, I did manage to figure out an easy, four-panel softie alpaca. If you can make a persimmon, you can make this thing, too.

Please note that this representation of an alpaca in saddle and reins is in no way intended to advocate the riding of alpacas. Alpacas are strictly for being cute and making yarn out of.

This pattern can be considered a vague okaeshi* to Jenny B. Harris, author of Allsorts, who originally made an adorable pattern for a Scottie dog available online, for free, to softie fans everywhere.

I am strongly convinced that the internet needs more free softie patterns.

Both Harris’s Scottie and this llama are built on the same dynamic for four-legged creatures. Two side panels with the proper outline, a belly + inside limbs panel to divide the bottom half into four legs, and a top of the head + inside ears panel to give the head some width and make two ears. Almost any four-legged creature can be made into a simple softie using this approach. Give it a try!

...and, if you do, don't forget to share it with the internet. :D

お返し: okaeshi (oh-ka-eh-shee)
1) return of kindness, something done or given in gratitude for a favor
2) revenge, payback
3) change (from cash paid)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Of French Knots

Well, back to life in Missouri.

Obama and McCain are somewhere in the vicinity, as are some angry cumulonimbi. Between dodging the heavier periods of rain and giving creative answers to the pollsters who call every hour ("I'm an abolitionist Whig who strongly supports the legalization of absinthe"), I have been fuffing about with string and things.

One thing I still like to do with string is make tiny little compositions entirely out of French knots (フランスノット).

French knots are a terrifically easy embroidery stitch that, when clustered together, make a cool, carpet-like texture. It's like pointillism with thread.

Red dogwood branch on a scrap of denim twill... well, it kind-of looks like dogwood. Just like pointillism, French knots don't allow for the sharpest detail.

Geometric flower on cotton shirting... or at least I think this is shirting. I don't know enough about fabric. As a base for French knots, just use a cheap, square-weave cotton fabric.

Even more fun than making figures, in my opinion, is just making little fields of French knots in different colors. It's good for using up all the little scraps of floss and yarn you might have left over from other crafts. You can stretch your finished abstracts over things, too, and make little bitty artworks.

A tiny pillow, about 3cm square, covered in some knots. It's fascinating, if completely useless.

A pattern of knots stretched over a pebble.

You can make French knots on any fabric with a moderately close weave that doesn't stretch. IE, gauzes, gossamer and knits are no good. (ガーゼ、ニットなどが使いにくいので、木綿を使った方がいいと思います.) Your knots will slip through to the wrong side of the fabric when you pull to tighten them, and you'll get frustrated and give up on French knots forever, and that'd be a damn shame. Use plain weave cotton instead. Beyond that, all you need is a needle (longer ones are easier to work with) and some bits of colorful string/yarn/thread/floss etc. (木綿以上、長い針と色々なきれいな糸しかいらない.)

The stitch, if you missed it, can be found here. Very simple.

EDIT: Here's one more example.