Saturday, December 25, 2010




Merry Xmas. :D

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fruit Overload


Arizona is a great climate for citrus trees. So great, in fact, that people plant them in their yards for decoration. People like the former owners of my house.


There wouldn't be so much fruit, actually, if it weren't for the fact that it is sunny and 79 degrees Fahrenheit today, the tenth of December. DECEMBER, damnit. Maybe it's the midwesterner in me, but the very word "December" is entirely incompatible with sunny and 79.

Meanwhile, the citrus trees apparently opine: "Hey, still warm? Let's drop a second harvest. Whee!"

Which returns me to:

AAAAAAAAUGH what do I do with all of this?!

I know what to do with lemons. Actually, I love lemons. Lemon is my favorite flavor of most anything. Lemon bars, lemon spritz cookies, lemon ice cream... here is a fantastic recipe for lemonade, by the way. I can probably use up all the lemons on my own.

Oranges... well, orange-cranberry scones are a hit with my dad, and orange juice is always good.

...but what the hell do I do with five-dozen grapefruit? o_o

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Hannukah: חנוכה שמח

ハッピー ハンヌカー ♥
(Have a latke for me.)

Friday, November 19, 2010


I really need to link to some people.
Anyone feel like exchanging links with me? :D
Please? ;_;

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

富士山:ふじさん, Mount Fuji

Woah, a softie pattern? Really?

Yep! :D

I've been sitting on this "mountain" idea for a long time, trying to figure out how to make it more mountainous. The original small version looked like crap:

Pfft, first try.

Then I tried to make a really big, fluffy one out of some fleece material, like a wumphy-fumphy pillow, but it also ended up looking like crap:

...especially when compared to real mountains.

...and then I discovered that somebody else had already made a much nicer soft Fuji:

damnit fark that. Here's an Eyjafjoell, or Merapi, if you prefer.

Okay, not quite as bad.

 平和な場所と見えるけど、実は、富士山も活火山です。Despite it's peaceful visage in modern times, it is important to note that Fuji-san is also still an active volcano.

(She could blow any minute - save the tea!!!)

And, if you're interested, the word for volcano in Japanese is kazan, written with two very basic kanji: "fire" and "mountain".
火 = fire
山 = mountain
火山 = volcano
Pretty easy, right? This is actually the way most Japanese words are formed. Even single kanji, since they began as ideograms (shorthand pictures meant to illustrate the thing they were describing), can be built out of simpler kanji stuck together:
木 = tree
森 = forest
日 = sun
月 = moon
明 = bright
Hey, you just learned some kanji. :D 楽しみしてね!

Monday, November 15, 2010

MY CUP!!! D:>

Damnit. That was my favorite cup. ゚・。(。/□\。)。・゚
Real post coming later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Postality II

Hells yeah, Postcrossing is awesome. Successfully sent cards to Finland, France, and Canada; the USPS is still working on a pair to Russia and the Netherlands. Best of all, Finland and Croatia each sent me one back! ♡ 

Here is my gallery of cards received~ ♪♫

Now, on a different issue, can anyone out there catch the Japanese unicode symbols I use all the time on this blog? Here's a test:
Do you see a strange little face symbol? That's the Japanese post's Nanba-kun (ナンバ君、"Mr. Number") character, essentially the J-version of Mr. Zip

If you do not see the strange little face (you might get a little box instead), would you kindly let me know what browser you're using in the comments section? Thank you very much~♡

Saturday, October 30, 2010


~is my favorite holiday but I never seem to have time to prepare for it buuu~~ (´∩`。)

Today, besides finally buying candy (are there even any kids in our neighborhood? I've only seen maybe one), I took some junk and some other junk and put them together into decorative junk. I also took pictures, because I wanted to know exactly how serious the camera was when it said "battery low". Not very serious, apparently.

One nice part about this particular junk+junk=thing project is that it's impermanent. That is, you can get the glass forms back when you're done. Or, if you prefer, you can make them permanent with a simple trade of adhesives. 

Too Easy Halloween Lantern Tutorial
extremely, super, little-kid-doable easy

  orange tissue paper
  opaque black paper (or any dark color, really)
  glass jars, bowls, cups, or what have you
  scotch tape
  ponytail bands (or rubber bands)
  spray adhesive (optional, only for permanent lanterns)

Cut up your black paper into jack-o-lantern eyes, moths, noses, or whatever Halloweeny shape you want. Consider the shape and size of your glass objects when you do this.

Tape your paper pieces to the surface of your glass objects. Most types of scotch tape can easily be peeled off of glass, but if you have to be sure that there won't be any stickiness left on your glass, use "magic" type tape. Don't worry that you can see the tape; when the lanterns are lit, taped areas become indistinguishable.

Now we wrap the glass forms in a sheet of tissue paper. If your form has straight, parallel sides, like a jar, you can just wrap it in a sheet...

...tape the bottom edges under the jar...

...and put a hairband around the rim to hold the sheet in place. 


If you're using a round shape, just set it in the center of a sheet of paper...

...wrap the paper up around it, gently, and stuff the loose ends into the top of the jar to hold them up...

...then secure with a hairband around the rim, trimming away extra paper from the opening. 

Done again.

Lastly, if your glass form is shaped such that it can't be banded at the top, you can either improvise with tape around the edges, or use the secret weapon of papercraft: adhesive spray.


Warning: Adhesive spray (spray mount, spray gum, aerosol glue, etc.) is very sticky and will make your paper-to-glass bond pretty damn near permanent. Re-positionable (impermanent) spray adhesive exists, but it is also awfully sticky, and does indeed become permanent on whatever surface it is originally applied to. As with all spray cans, use in a well-ventilated area.

Another Warning: Always protect work surfaces with scrap paper when using spray adhesive, unless you want a gummy table. No-one wants a gummy table, though. Gummy tables suck.

If using spray adhesive, first invert your glass form in the middle of a sheet of tissue paper. Then, spray the ever-loving hell out it. 

Okay, maybe not that much. Just get an even coat of spray on glass and tissue alike. 

Now, very carefully, turn your glass right-side up in the middle of the sheet, being careful not to let the gummy tissue touch the gummy glass, otherwise they'll fall in love IMMEDIATELY and stick like happy ever after. Guess what I did when trying to turn my glass over...  yeah.

Once your glass is right-side up, lift up the paper on all sides and wrap it around the glass. It'll stick real tight, real fast, and make a wrinkly effect. Pat it down to flatten it out.

Lastly, cut away the extra paper from the opening of the glass. Voila.

Add tea candles, display on Halloween night. Or be a dork and use them for mood lighting in the bathroom. Like me. :3

Guess where this picture was taken.
As always, have fun, and Happy Halloween! ハロウィーンおめでとう、たのしみして!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I had this idea once to exchange postcards with people if they emailed me their addresses, but only four people ever responded, and I chickened out on sending postcards to most of them because I couldn't make nice enough postcards. Also, everybody in Ku House lost their jobs right about then, so... you know, distractions.

I just found this today. :D

I think I'll be able to do it this time, without the pressure of knowing who I'm sending to... also, there are a ton more decent postcards available in Arizona than I ever found in Missouri.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Experiment: Pastel Crayons + Oven

Having moved into the new Ku House (and getting all my boxes of crap garbage stuff back from storage), I've been coming across tons and tons of old "kiddy grade"* art supplies that I've never used. They include cheapo oil pastels, which aren't really oil pastels like those you might find in a box at an art store labeled as such, but rather the waxy, hard stumps that come with colored pencils and questionable watercolors in a wooden box that gets billing as a hundred-piece kit for little artists. I received these lovely presents from family at Christmas... and again on my birthday... some 10 years ago, when I did more illustration than making-of-stuff. The sentiment was (and still is) much appreciated, but I now have a collection of some 70+ chunks of highly-pigmented oily wax without a cause. Furthermore, none of the charities around here will accept art supplies. ;_;

Hmm. Waxy stuff melts, doesn't it?

Here's what happens when you put pastel crayons in the oven.

First up, I tired drawing on a piece of scrap board, conveniently broken into size by my sister via Taekwondo practice. The pastels didn't take kindly to the surface at first, so I softened them up a bit by holding them over a lit candle for a few seconds at a time. They got all smeary. I put the colorful, smeary piece of wood in the oven at 225 for about 20 minutes.

"If you are drawing with wax crayons, draw a bee," an elderly Japanese lady once told me, as we colored pictures with some kindergartners and other elderly folks at a care center, "to show that you appreciate the wax."
Well, okay. I was hoping the colors would mesh together more than they did and smooth out a little. I also wasn't expecting the oily halo on the wood, but that's kinda cool. The oven did take care of the loose crumbles of pastel that clung to the board... you know, the kind that you have to pick off really carefully, otherwise you brush them accidentally and they leave little streaks of stray color all over your picture. Additionally, neither this nor any of the rest of the following procedures produced any bad smell; there was only a light scent of wax when dealing directly with the hot piece as it was removed from the oven.

Next up, melting the pastels and dripping directly on the board. If rubbing warm pastels on the surface of wood made them stick half-heartedly, surely dripping hot melted pastel from a few inches above would give greater adhesion. Less control, of course, but that wasn't really my interest any more -- I just wanted to make pretty colors. After dripping (and it wasn't quite as drippy as I expected), I put the board into the oven again, this time at 275 for 15 minutes.

Flammability was not an issue. :D

The colored patches meshed together a little better, and even traveled across the board... while in other places they didn't blend at all, just met and evened out. Also, I had a lot of little bubbles pop up from the wax. They left a sort of mottled surface texture.

Once more at 320 for 30 minutes:

...and that's enough of that.

Lastly, I wanted to try making a wacky crayon. You can recycle broken wax crayons into a shiny new chunk-o-crayon that looks exciting to little kids (and anyone easily distracted by bright colors, like me). It seemed like waxy pastel crayons might benefit form the same treatment. I got a piece of tough old tupperware, broke bits off the pastels, and jumbled them up in the tupperware mold. A metal mold (like a muffin tin) would be the safer choice, but I didn't have one of an acceptable size. The piece-filled mold was placed on a scrappy baking sheet for the sake of stability and catching any melt that might bubble over. This ended up not being an issue at all, as the pastels melted and sank to the bottom of the mold without any spitting and very minimal bubbling.

Bake for 30 minutes at 300, and voila:

...not at all worth eating, but visually intriguing, nonetheless.

EDIT: And, at Keira's insistence, here is how it draws:

The pastels did in fact melt just like normal crayons do, and the tupperware was not affected except for some colorful residue that I scrubbed out later. I should mention that there was a layer of translucent, cloudy oil/wax that formed on the surface of the block as it was forming in the oven. When cooled, this layer was the same consistency as that of the colorful block below it, but rubbing it on paper produced no color. I shaved the layer off with a craft knife before taking the image you see above.

In conclusion, one can indeed put cheap pastel crayons in the oven to produce various effects without fear of immolation, explosions, bizarre and persistent smells, or ruining the oven with little waxy splatters. The actual quality of the effects achieved remains debatable... but experimentation is always preferable to throwing away unused art supplies.

...and I still have a lot of pastel crayons to use up. -_-;

*In truth, there is no such thing as kiddy grade or student grade materials; you can make real, sincere art out of anything -- the only limit is the artist's vision. :D

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More excuses... sort of.

So we've been in the process of moving Ku House (which has been an apartment sine last August) to an actual house, which is fantastically painted in bright reds and oranges and yellows on the inside and has the most awesome view from the backyard, ever.

During this process, there's a gap of many days since canceling internet service at the apartment and getting it set up at the house, which will hopefully occur this coming Friday if Comcast does not consist entirely of mean jerks. :<

In the meantime, water is falling from the sky and eating the mountains in big grey waves of The Nothing, like from Neverending Story. :D

Here is a picture:

Those are the Catalina Mountains, as viewed from their western side, looking east. They continue much farther to the north (left) than you can see them here, mainly because the sky is om-nom-nomming them with it's pointy rain teeth.

Monsoon season is awesome.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A List

A bilingual list of (some of) the stuff I need to make into softies:

郵便車 (yuubinsha, a post truck)
郵便箱 (yuubinbako, a post box)
ラジオ (rajio, a radio; which can also be 無線, musen)
せみ (semi, a cicada)
サボテン (saboten, a cactus)
ヒトデ (hitode, a sea star)
ベタ (beta, a fighting fish)
ホットドッグ (hotto-doggu, a hot dog, for some silly reason)
小さな蟹 (chiisana kani, a tiny crab)
太っている鯣 (futotteiru surume, a fat cuttlefish)
鮫 (same, a shark, because SereneSky asked for one)

Any suggestions to add to the list? :3

"You're on my list, Birdman!"

Monday, July 12, 2010

ゆびぬき:yubinuki, Japanese thimbles

Once again, I have been side-tracked into another J-craft. I officially cannot resist pretty things. Not even a little bit.

These are seriously awesome, though.

The word yubinuki simply means "thimble" in Japanese. It can refer to the bucket thimbles we're accustomed to in the west, leather cuff thimbles, metal pad thimbles, or any one of several "thing that goes on your finger when you are sewing" accessories.

the above images are all yubinuki,and all blatantly stolen from the Internet

What we've specifically got here are kaga yubinuki (加賀指ぬき). They are padded fabric rings decorated with silk thread. The origin of this style of thimble is credited to the Kaga region of old Japan, modern day Ishikawa prefecture, hence the term kaga yubinuki. When the term "yubinuki" is used in English, it is almost always in reference to this unique type of embroidered thimble.

I discovered yubinuki by way of a related craft called temari (てまり), a topic upon which I really, really hope to do a tutorial soon. The two are related in that they both apply colorful geometric patterns of silk thread to a padded, curved surface. Yubinuki, however, are easier in my humble opinion: there are fewer divisions to keep track of, only one stitch to remember, and they are generally much smaller.

The materials to make a yubinuki are fantastically simple. You need only a small piece of fabric, a needle, some thread in a few colors, some strips of paper, and a little padding. The Japanese use loose-fiber silk padding, but for those stitching in the west, I find that a bit of an unrolled cotton ball works just as well. (Polyfil does NOT work very well, as it is very springy and hard to wrap around the ring base without bits of it sticking out everywhere.)

もし日本語が読めれば、こちらには簡単な how-to があります。:D
If you can read Japanese, here is a simple tutorial all on one page. A more complete tutorial and the pattern to make the double yabane (arrow-tail) pattern can be found here. Even if you don't read Japanese, it's worth a look at just the pictures in each tutorial -- you'll quickly get the feel for what is being done.

Yubinuki instructions in English are a little harder to come by. Fortunately, there is Chloe Patricia and her blog, Ma Mercerie. Madam Patricia gives excellent tutorials for building a thimble base, stitching, making and using patterns, and more, all in English. パツリシア様、大変お世話になりました!

Once you're comfortable with building a ring base, all you need to do is learn the knot to start a new thread on the ring:

...and the single stitch used to make all the various patterns:

What allows for the variety of patterns is the number of divisions you mark on the ring (how many zig-zags of each thread), and in what order the different colors of threads reach across each other. After you get used to the basic stitch, you'll likely be able to mentally de-construct a finished yubinuki and understand the pattern used to make it. I'll be posting the basic ones as I finish graphing them out. :D

Until then:

Base-making tutorial: excellent pictures, Japanese text - also shows how to divide strips without measuring, using a line set or graph (from てんとう虫がやって来た)
Base and stitch tutorial: in Japanese (from Fujix Ltd. publishing)
Base and double yabane pattern tutorial: in Japanese, click each link in order from top to bottom to get a breakdown of materials, base making, divisions, stitch method, and pattern (from Thimble Japan)

From 茶飲み話: works from 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 (all separate links)
From Zuccaさん: handmade yubinuki gallery
From Quilt-Yui: handmade yubinuki divided by design type (click the various links beneath the words 店主のギャラリー, the fourth menu item down in the left-hand frame)
From 人鳥官: yubinuki and quilting, link goes directly to yubinuki section

Small pieces (category 加賀指ぬき)
Amerika tsukuri (full of yubinuki, temari, and miniatures of both)

...and there are a ton more. Try copy-pasting the Japanese term 加賀ゆびぬき (kaga yubinuki) into a GIS. Or, you know, just click here. :D

All actual pictures of kaga yubinuki in this post have been blatantly stolen from the Internet; I wanted to credit them, but I lost the links to the sites from which I saved them, 'cause I'm an idiot. -_-; すばらしい加賀指ぬきの写真は無断に盗まれてしまいました。もしかして、あなた様の写真がこちらに見つけて、おしえてください。大変申し訳ありません。

I'll be back soon with a step-by-step of some patterns~

Thursday, July 8, 2010


それは "I am still alive!" と言う意味です。And now I've missed the entire month of June, too. -_-;

I seriously, honestly intend to post tonight, and later in the week, about Japanese thimbles (yubinuki), which have kinda captured my heart for a few weeks.

Aren't they pretty? (click image to visit creator's site)

Also, I am backdating this post to July 8th, which was Quex Day. ^x^

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Be

It's May. Damn. I missed the entire month of April. -_-;


Good: Computer is fixed. The natives of Bleeping are geniuses.

Bad: Crappy Anti-illegal Immigration bill + police getting shot up during drug busts + getting back into the 90s this week in the Land of Az. Also, it's very windy today and things are blowing away. :/

Good: Strawberries are $0.88 per pound in local grocery.

Bad: Unmitigated oil disaster off the south coast, the Koreas are duking it out under the radar, car-full-of-bomb in Times Square, WTF?

Good: Car-full-of-bomb was apparently built by a complete dumbass. Hah.

Bad: Tornadoes are kicking the midwest's collective ass, Tennessee is flooding, and the Blackhawks blew game 1 of their series against Van-farking-couver. (GRR.)

Good: I have stuff to post!

Bad: I don't have time to post it right now.

BACK SHORTLY. (♪Always look on the bright side of life~♪)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

o(`Д´#)o Gyaaaaaa~

...that's an angry face, by the way.

I am become very much distracted from making stuff in these recent days, as the need to repair a particular something has attracted great pertinence. G*ddamn you, Microsoft and all your cronies, for making your system so farking easy to corrupt. *fist in air, shaking and rage*

Fortuitously, I run and work on a Mac. That is the entire reason I can make this post. :D

Unfortuitously,* I am the default IT manager for my entire family. This means that whenever "hey, it's doing something weird" becomes applicable to the PC, I have a job to do.  -_-;

Three tips for anyone running Windows-whatever-version:

1) Keep that firewall up, damnit! This is the 2010's, and firewalls aren't just for uptight techies and CIA agents anymore. If you don't have a firewall or don't trust the strength of the one you have, Comodo and Zone Alarm are both excellent and free of charge. Important: if you use Zone Alarm, be sure to deactivate the debugging feature, else you'll get a snowballing file called tvdebug.log that takes up space on your machine. If you use Comodo, I suggest installing only the firewall portion... there's better anti-virus freeware to be had elsewhere.

2) Don't buy McAfee. I cannot rightly speak for Norton, as I have not used it in years, but word on the forums is that neither are even half as good as some freeware out there. McAfee, besides being a subscription service, is also a major culprit in slowing down the overall performance of a PC -- sloppy programming means it takes up too much of your machine's memory and processing resources. Also, it's not very good at what it's supposed to do; namely, catching bad stuff and keeping it off your computer. Case in point, the family computer that I am now trying to save from a complete flush-and-reinstall-everything scenario has had a subscription to McAfee Security Center (the full line of McAfee's anti-everything + extra firewall and privacy protection) for three years running, and it STILL has been badly screwed by a rootkit, viral rogue, and more trojans than there ever were in the historic Trojan army.

3) Be really, really careful about what you do on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. If the file size is to small (or too big) to be the thing you intend to download, don't touch it. If the file name reflects exactly the same search terms you put in to find it and nothing more, don't touch it. If you don't recognize the file type, don't touch it. And for torrent files... try to choose from torrents that are rated positively and/or have worthwhile comments on them.

Or alternatively, get a Mac. :3

Anyway, I'll be back when the bugs are gone. ;_;

* "Unfortuitously" is not a proper word. Also, I am not endorsed by any of the products or services mentioned above.

A portion of this post will be echoed on Omnomnomnibus, as that is a more fitting location for the subject. :D

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Pancakes Day

I hope you are all full of corned beef and cabbage and potatoes... and beer, if you're of the proper age. ^w^ Here's something to be full of tomorrow morning: shamrock pancakes. (Not shamrock flavored, mind you, just shaped funny.) 四葉ホットケーキを作りましょう!

green pancake batter and strawberry pieces

Add some green food coloring to your favorite pancake batter. Also, cut up some fruit into smallish pieces. I'm using strawberries, but you can use almost anything. Bananas work really well because they're so sticky.

 (this is figure 2)

Prep your pan with oil/butter (you know how to make pancakes). Then, BEFORE you pour your pancake, put four of those little fruit pieces in the pan, as in figure 2.

*splut* is the Official Sound of Pancake Batter™

Now pour some green batter into the middle of the four fruit pieces. It should spread out between and around the fruit to make a shamrock-ish shape. You can tilt the pan a little to help form the right shape. (If your fruit pieces just get pushed out of the way, try stickier fruit or bigger pieces.)

wonky, but delicious

Ta-daa! Shamrocks, kinda! (I'm not the best at this.) With some poking and prodding, you can get much more appealing shamrocky shapes. Or, you could add more fruit pieces and make a daisy shape with 5 or 6 petals. It all depends upon how creative you can be in the early morning, before breakfast.

If you need a pancake recipe, this one's great:

Strawberry-Vanilla Pancakes
1 cup flour
0.5 cups oats (rolled, instant, steel cut, whatever)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 egg
0.75 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped strawberries
0.25 cup chopped almonds (optional)
In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat together egg, milk, and vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Stir in the chopped strawberries (and almonds, if you want them).

...and if you need them:

Basic Pancake-Making Instructions

Oil or butter the bottom of a frying pan or griddle. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, or until the butter/oil starts to sizzle. Stir the batter up a little, and pour some into the pan to form a pool of your desired pancake size. Flip your pancake when bubbles appear in the middle. Repeat until all of your batter has turned into delicious pancakes. If your pancakes start sticking or burning to the pan, wipe it out and oil or butter the bottom again.

...and if you're out of maple:

Almondine Syrup
1 cup white sugar
1.25 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

1 teaspoon almond extract
Combine both sugars and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir and stir and stir, slowly but constantly, for about a minute as the pot heats up. There is too much sugar for the water to dissolve it all, so you’ll have a sugary sludge on the bottom and liquid on the top. Let the mixture heat up to the boiling point, giving it a slow but thorough stir about once a minute.

Once the mixture begins to boil, start stirring constantly. Boil the syrup (still stirring) for roughly 3 minutes, monitoring the temperature so that it doesn’t boil over or burn. The syrup should now be a transparent dark brown liquid.

Remove the saucepan from heat and immediately add the almond extract (it might puff or hiss when it hits the hot syrup; this is a good sign). Stir the pot about 20 times around to be sure everything is mixed together, then cover the syrup with plastic wrap and let it cool to room temperature (takes a few hours). Don’t put it in the fridge yet!

Once your syrup is cool, it’s ready to enjoy. Store extra syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. It might form a sugar crust on the top, but unless it grows something really strange, like fuzz or spots on the surface, it’s still okay to eat.