Favourite-things Friday

This week’s Favourite-things Fri­day is ded­i­cat­ed to one of my favourite peo­ple on earth — my one and only sis­ter. She’s grad­u­at­ing from uni­ver­si­ty this year, and she loves clouds. So I fig­ure I’d share some pic­tures of clouds to celebrate!

In the past months I have been tak­ing lots of pic­tures of clouds. Our win­dows face west so we get to enjoy mag­nif­i­cent sun­sets every­day, and every­day the sun­set looks dif­fer­ent, and every­day when I stop to admire the sun­set I would think of my sis­ter. She’s also intro­duced me to places like The Cloud Appre­ci­a­tion Soci­ety and Clouds 365 Project. These places are dan­ger­ous because I’d eas­i­ly spend hours look­ing through pic­tures of clouds and not get any house/school work done! But then I’d feel so blessed and inspired after­ward, so it’s well worth the time.

Here are some pic­tures that I have tak­en since Feb­ru­ary. I usu­al­ly take cloud pic­tures behind one of our win­dows (the only one I can stand close to because it does­n’t have fur­ni­ture or my clut­ter of stuff in from of it) so they’re most­ly from the same angle. And on cloud­less days I try to cap­ture the radi­ant colours of the set­ting sun. Enjoy!

And over the years watch­ing clouds has also become one of my favourite things to do. I’d like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to thank my sis­ter for inspir­ing me to stop and expe­ri­ence the sim­ply joy of cloud-watch­ing. I’d like to thank her for open­ing my eyes to the beau­ty (and the poet­ic qual­i­ty of things!) sur­round­ing us every­day; it brought me heal­ing in times of great tri­als. I know that she will con­tin­ue to inspire many oth­ers with her kind­ness and her abil­i­ty to see and appre­ci­ate the every­day mir­a­cles that are often tak­en for granted.

Have a love­ly weekend!

Getting ready for hanami!

This week­end we’re going to see the cher­ry blos­soms at High Park! I just found out that cher­ry-blos­som-view­ing is called hana­mi in Japan­ese. I also heard that part of the cus­tom is eat­ing saku­ra mochi, and my wasashi chron­i­cles has a recipe for it (that’s where I got this love­ly pic­ture too!). The rice is pink and it’s filled with red bean paste and it’s so cute-look­ing! I’d love to try one if I have a chance!

If I were more culi­nar­i­ly skilled I would hap­pi­ly pack a pic­nic with saku­ra mochi and oni­giri and oth­er cute-look­ing ben­to items (this blog post has some great exam­ples, and bizarre ones as well…) for this week­end. But I have much more patience for cro­chet­ing than cook­ing, so I decid­ed to make a saku­ra mochi pin to wear to the hanami!


Saku­ra mochi is extra spe­cial because in the process of mak­ing it I actu­al­ly took the time to write down the pat­tern. SO! This will be the first time I write up a pat­tern and share it (by post­ing it here and on Rav­el­ry). I haven’t had time to type it out prop­er­ly yet (right now it’s all scrib­bles and made-up charts that only I can under­stand), but I’m very excit­ed! Mind you, it’s a super sim­ple straight­for­ward pat­tern. If you know how to cro­chet you would prob­a­bly fig­ure it out just by look­ing at the pic­ture. But still, it’s a step for­ward — who knows what it will lead to?

That reminds me, I recent­ly came across this web­site called Puri­cute via MEOMI (the bril­liant peo­ple who cre­at­ed the Olympic mas­cots!). It’s like mak­ing stick­er pic­tures with­out hav­ing to go to Pacif­ic Mall! I even found a hana­mi-themed back­ground! And there are stamps! The ran­dom sparkles and small oni­giri are stamps. I know, the pic­ture is sooo over­done — but the stamps are far too much fun, I could­n’t help myself!

Pray­ing for good weath­er this week­end! The weath­er net­work said there’s 60% chance of rain :( But they’re hard­ly ever accu­rate, aren’t they? Enjoy the cher­ry blos­soms or oth­er bloom­ing trees wher­ev­er you are! :D

Point & Shoot Wednesday

Last Fri­day was a bit of a gloomy day. The sky was grey and threat­en­ing to rain. The air was damp and cold. I was walk­ing through a park in the east end of the city, and then I saw this shrub! It’s bloom­ing so eager­ly despite the cold weath­er and it’s PINK! (Have I men­tioned that pink is one of my most favourite colours?) I believe it’s the same shrub that I took I pic­ture of in last week’s Point & Shoot Wednes­day. But this one is more pink.

It just brought me so much joy when I saw it. Look at all the pink flower buds!

And before the pink petals emerge the flower buds are fuzzy, so I once thought the shrub is a pussy wil­low. Then I looked up pussy wil­lows and real­ized that they look dif­fer­ent. Can any­one tell me what kind of shrub this is?

They real­ly made me feel more enthu­si­as­tic after­ward, not that I was in a par­tic­u­lar­ly bad mood or any­thing. But fun­ny how plants can have that effect on me.

And look! I found a red and white cord on this shrub! It’s the same one that we saw in a tree in our neigh­bour­hood park, also post­ed in last week’s Point & Shoot! I won­der if its pur­pose is sim­i­lar to that of the Japan­ese weath­er wish­ing dolls.

I love bloom­ing shrubs and trees in the spring. There are a lot more of those on the street where my par­ents live. And when I used to live at home I would look out my win­dow on the sec­ond floor and see pink trees on the side of the streets, like cot­ton can­dy. And the wind would sweep by and the petals would gen­tly fall…

Trees are bloom­ing in my neigh­bour­hood park as well! I think this is a kind of maple…

Speak­ing of trees, I saw an arti­cle in the free sub­way news­pa­per yes­ter­day about this com­pa­ny called Urban Tree Sal­vage. They make fur­ni­ture out of sal­vaged wood, from trees that have suf­fered insect infes­ta­tion, storm dam­age, or urban devel­op­ment (and of course they treat the wood to stop the infes­ta­tions first before mak­ing them into fur­ni­ture — the din­ing tables don’t come with din­ner guests of bee­tles and worms, sor­ry). I’m also proud to say that they’re based in Scar­bor­ough! :D Vis­it them if you want to bring some trees into your home :)

I would real­ly like to have one of these tables in my house one day. We’d be eat­ing soup or drink­ing tea around it like hob­bits!! :D

So! It’s a beau­ti­ful day in the neigh­bour­hood — hug a tree today! Hap­py Wednes­day everyone!

The magic of Value Village and Saturday Make-Along

Last week­end we went to Val­ue Vil­lage, which is some­thing that I haven’t done for ages, and I have for­got­ten how much fun it is to find hid­den trea­sures and delight­ful sur­pris­es, like these shirts here I bought for sum­mer, with love­ly retro-look­ing pat­terns. Espe­cial­ly the pink flo­ral shirt — I’ve always want­ed a pink flo­ral shirt! Bonus: these shirts are pre-shrunk so I won’t have to wor­ry about throw­ing them into the wash­ing machine and mis­shap­ing them! :D

Any­ways, I real­ly like the pink flo­ral shirt, except when I tried it on at home I thought it looked kind of blah on me… (that’s me in my dusty mir­ror, feel­ing kind of blah in this shirt.)

Maybe it’s the sleeves? Maybe it’s the boxy shape? I don’t know. I do real­ly love the pleat­ing on the front and the ruf­fled col­lar though. And then I remem­ber that recent­ly I stum­bled upon this announce­ment about a Sat­ur­day Make-along, host­ed by Lee Mered­ith. The idea is to spend the Sat­ur­day (April 10) mak­ing some­thing you would­n’t nor­mal­ly make and, in Lee’s words, “to real­ly spend some qual­i­ty time with things that don’t nor­mal­ly get your time.”

Well, I don’t usu­al­ly sew. And I’m usu­al­ly hes­i­tant about recon­struct­ing cloth­ing, because I’m afraid that I would cut too much off or some­thing and ruin a per­fect­ly wear­able piece of cloth­ing. But I mean, it’s per­fect­ly wear­able but it would prob­a­bly stay in my clos­et for months and years because I think I look blah in it. So then what’s the point of hav­ing a sweet pink flo­ral shirt if I can’t wear it? Take a risk, Trish, take a risk!

So then, on Sat­ur­day, after hav­ing some pan­cakes and some time for con­tem­pla­tion, I decid­ed to join the make-along and embark on this shirt-recon­struc­tion adven­ture. I want­ed to short­ened the sleeves (it is for the sum­mer, after all) and per­haps put some darts around the waist area. So here’s a record of the day…

11:30 am — Cut sleeves to quar­ter-sleeve length, care­ful­ly removed ruf­fles from cuffs (because I want­ed to reat­tach the ruf­fles on to the short­en sleeves). Real­ized that ruf­fles at cuff was prob­a­bly too short, so I un-gath­ered the ruf­fles and added 4 inch­es of extra fab­ric from the cut-off sleeves and sewed it into a ring and then re-gath­ered the ruf­fles and evened it all out and then… there was still not enough ruf­fles to go around!! (see left side of pho­to) BAHHH! Good thing there’s still enough fab­ric from the cut-off sleeves to make more ruf­fles from scratch (the pieces on the right of pho­to) — should have done that in the first place!

2:30 pm — Real­ized that we need­ed to get gro­ceries and we have com­pa­ny the next day and I was going to make some chili ahead of time. Was con­tem­plat­ing giv­ing up because the project was tak­ing longer than I expect­ed, and I might even ruin the whole thing and it would be a total waste of time and I won’t even get the chili made. But Mike vol­un­teered to make the chili and point­ed out that I already have the sewing machine and iron­ing board set up so I might as well stick with it. So, we ran out to get gro­ceries and some pink thread (because I only have white, black, grey and beige; like I said, I don’t sew a lot), and had some lunch, and then tack­led the ruf­fles again.

While walk­ing around at the gro­cery store, I came up with a way to attach the ruf­fles onto the sleeves (and bumped into a few fel­low shop­pers’ gro­cery charts and bins of veg­eta­bles in the process). I’d real­ly like to tuck in the raw edges so they don’t fray, even on the inside of the sleeves, and I don’t have a serg­er, so here’s what I did:

1. With right side fac­ing, I fold­ed the sleeve edge 1/4 inch up all around. Ironed fold.

2. With right side fac­ing, I pinned ruf­fles (which was made with a nar­row strip of fab­ric fold­ed in half length-wise and gath­ered along the long side) around the fold­ed edge, align­ing the raw edges of the fold­ed edge and the ruf­fles, stitch­ing 1/8 inch from the raw edges.

3. Then, with the right side fac­ing still, I fold­ed the now ruf­fled edge up along the raw edges, and ironed the fold.

4. I then stitched just below the fold­ed sleeve edge all around. (Sor­ry that the pho­to isn’t that clear in terms of where I’m stitch­ing… I hope you get the idea.)

5. Final­ly, I flipped the ruf­fled edge down, the stitch­es made in step 4 held the fab­ric in place, and I top-stitched near the edge all around.

6. The far left of the image shows the out­side of the sleeve, and the right shows the inside of the sleeve. (I know the steps are not that clear… it’s kind of hard to explain in words… but please feel free to leave a com­ment if you’d like some clar­i­fi­ca­tion. I’ve nev­er done this before but per­haps many peo­ple are already doing this or doing it in bet­ter ways…)

4–7 pm — Here’s me sewing as the sun goes down… with mugs of tea. It’s real­ly not a lot of sewing, I was just sewing very slow­ly, and iron­ing in between steps. Def­i­nite­ly tak­ing longer than expected.

So here it is — DONE! :D

The sleeves end­ed up being kind of wide, so I think it looks alright with­out putting in the darts in the body. And if I want­ed to put in darts then I’ll have to rip out the hem… so it’s bet­ter to just leave it. Does­n’t it look more styl­ish with the quar­ter-sleeves? I’m rather hap­py about this. Now I would total­ly wear it in the sum­mer. Yay, I final­ly have a pink flo­ral shirt! *grin*

So, I’m real­ly thank­ful for this make-along. I would­n’t have fin­ished this project oth­er­wise, it would just stay in my clos­et for months and years and I would just be think­ing about what I could do with it every time I look at it and then close the clos­et door — I know, sad. Yes, thank­ful and hap­py that I did it. And thank­ful for Mike’s chili. :)

Hope you’ve had a love­ly week­end, and have a great week ahead!

Marshie made it!!

Like I said, there’s no rea­son why Marshie would­n’t make it into the con­test, but I was still rather excit­ed when I got the email from the Instructa­bles Robot. Only Instructa­bles mem­bers can vote though, and I don’t real­ly expect to win, not that I don’t think Marshie is awe­some. I just think that not every­one likes the same things I do. I’m just excit­ed to see Marshie in a con­test, since I’ve nev­er entered any con­test before. Per­haps I will put more crea­tures into the Crit­ter Con­test, because mak­ing crea­tures is fun! :D

In the mean­while, check out the con­test entries if you like! They’re fantastic!

Have a hap­py Sunday!

Favourite-things Friday!

A few weeks ear­li­er I made a bunch of prints using Sty­ro­foam pieces, inspired by the tuto­r­i­al and love­ly images on Glit­ter­goods (you must scroll down on her page to look at the won­der­ful framed com­pos­ite of the kinder­gart­ners’ work! If I were a teacher I would total­ly be steal­ing that idea!). Print­mak­ing is my all-time favourite thing to do. It’s such a mag­i­cal process, because the print nev­er turns out exact­ly the way you thought it would.

Any­ways, when I saw the tuto­r­i­al I thought it would be love­ly to make a com­pos­ite of gink­go leaf prints. We have this large orange frame with a gener­ic pho­to poster in it and we (or I) have been want­i­ng to replace it with some­thing more per­son­al for some time. Gink­go trees are anoth­er one of my favourite things. Did you know that they are liv­ing fos­sils? I thought that’s very cool. There’s also a cer­tain ele­gance about them, the fan-like leaves flut­ter­ing in the wind.

Any­how, this was a rather spon­ta­neous project so I just used what­ev­er I could find in the house. One could get foam pieces that are specif­i­cal­ly made for print­ing, but I just cut out rec­tan­gles from, um, meat trays. I know. I know it sounds gross. But I did wash the trays 5 mil­lion times with antibac­te­r­i­al dish deter­gent. And I thought, don’t we use the same sponge to wash the forks and the bowl that raw meat was mar­i­nat­ing in? I mean, we’re not going to eat the prints! Any­ways, I digress. So here’s how I scratched the foam with a lead­less mechan­i­cal pen­cil, using pressed gink­go leaves as a guide:

The foam plates are quite inter­est­ing in themselves.

I did­n’t have block print­ing ink (I should real­ly invest in some), so I used blue tem­pera paint mixed with a bit of black water­colour. I con­sid­ered using acrylic because it’s more tacky, but I did­n’t want it to dry and get stuck on the bray­er, because I only have one. I did try to use a bray­er to roll the paint on the plates ini­tial­ly and be all print­mak­er-like, but it did­n’t work out very well because the paint was too watery and slip­pery, so I used a paint brush instead. I think I might have impro­vised too much and used none of the prop­er tools, so half the prints did­n’t turn out. But then that almost always hap­pens with print­mak­ing. Well for me any­ways. So here I am con­tem­plat­ing my “keep pile” and “toss pile”.

At the end of con­tem­pla­tion, here are some of my favourites. The brush marks actu­al­ly turned out quite interesting.

Here’s anoth­er print with the same plate.

And some small­er ones.

Try­ing a dif­fer­ent view.

We decid­ed not to put these into the orange frame because we felt that the prints were bet­ter viewed indi­vid­u­al­ly than grouped. But we thought of anoth­er idea for mak­ing scratch foam prints for the frame, which I will sure­ly share when we get around to it :)

I still had a fab­u­lous time mak­ing them though. Espe­cial­ly the part where I don’t have to wor­ry about whether the plate is per­fect­ly cen­tered on the paper or whether the ink is rolled on even­ly or whether the paper is torn on a per­fect right angle or whether my fin­gers are per­fect­ly clean so I don’t leave fin­ger­prints on the paper.

I thought it would be fit­ting to end with this quote I saw on French Toast Girl’s Face­book page:

The prac­tice of art isn’t to make a liv­ing. It’s to make your soul grow.

- Kurt Vonnegut

Point & Shoot Wednesday

I have a point & shoot cam­era. It’s dig­i­tal and it’s pink. I have no train­ing what­so­ev­er in pho­tog­ra­phy. Except the pho­tog­ra­phy class in grade 12, which was rather mis­er­able — first, despite my best effort all the pic­tures I took some­how turned out fuzzy (I mean out of focus, not grow­ing mold or fur), and then I walked into a wall in the dark room and got a rather promi­nent bruise on my cheek that last­ed for weeks.

But, any­ways, this pink cam­era has a macro func­tion and it lets me take pic­tures of small things in great detail, and in focus, which makes me real­ly hap­py. I like small things, and I dis­cov­ered that I do like to take pic­tures after all. In fact I love to take pic­tures. As long as I’m not being grad­ed. So Wednes­days is ded­i­cat­ed to my point & shoot pic­tures, usu­al­ly of things that are small and mun­dane but delight­ful nonetheless.

It is rainy and grey in Toron­toland today, so I thought I’d put up some pic­tures from the gor­geous East­er weekend.

We took a walk through dif­fer­ent parks in our neigh­bour­hood and gave this tree a hug.

The bright yel­low lichens were mesmerizing.

Then we saw a piece of red and white string among the branch­es, sway­ing to the rhythm of the breeze.

On the way home from church, field of blue flow­ers already in bloom, could­n’t wait to see the sun.

This shrub reminds me that cher­ry blos­soms fes­ti­val is quick­ly approach­ing! I won­der if the cher­ry trees will be bloom­ing ear­ly too, because of this incred­i­bly warm weather…

Not com­plain­ing about the rain today though. There’s a time for sun and a time for rain. If it were sum­mery all the time, all year long, then we’d be in trou­ble. Rain is good. It smells all fresh and grassy outside.

Hope you are well!

Marshie the Monstermallow

Meet Marshie the Mon­ster­mal­low. He’s the crea­ture (or, as Marshie prefers, the mon­ster) I made for Instructa­bles’ Crit­ter Con­test. He was in the pho­to shoot I men­tioned at the end of a pre­vi­ous post!

Marshie lives on the 4 food groups of crisped rice cere­al, marsh­mal­lows, syrup, and but­ter. That’s why he looks like a Rice Krispies Square. Or a marsh­mal­low square. Or, as I pre­fer to call it, a marsh­mal­low treat. You are what you eat, I guess.

He has stub­by marsh­mal­low legs and gooey marsh­mal­low hands. He also wants to let you know that he can snap, crack­le and pop. He’s even made a video to demon­strate it.

(If you lis­ten care­ful­ly you might hear me chuck­ling in the back­ground dur­ing film­ing. Could­n’t help myself.)

What hap­pened was, while I was sewing Marshie togeth­er and was about to stuff him with some scrap foam pieces, Mike was sit­ting beside me eat­ing a marsh­mal­low treat. I could hear the “snap crack­le pop” when he was bit­ing into it. I sud­den­ly real­ized that the “snap crack­le pop” noise does­n’t dimin­ish even after the crisped rice has been glued togeth­er into a square. So, I stuffed Marshie with a cut-up plas­tic bag, so it would snap crack­le and pop when you squish him.

And here he is, going out to meet some friends.

“We all like to snap crack­le and pop. I think we can be friends.”

Marshie would­n’t look at the cam­era, he was too busy bal­anc­ing. “A good marsh­mal­low treat require the right bal­ance of marsh­mal­lows and crisped rice.”

After indoor pho­to shoot­ing, going out for a walk. “I’m so hap­py to be alive!”

“Roar. I’m a bear.”

We both have bad teeth. I think we can be friends.

So that was how I spent my East­er long week­end, pret­ty much. Did lots of new things because of Marshie. Like sign­ing up for an account on Instructa­bles, mak­ing a video and then upload­ing it on Vimeo. I’ve nev­er real­ly put my cro­chet work “out there”, as my friend Kit­ty has always urged me to. I guess this is a first step! Enter­ing a con­test! Speak­ing of which, vis­it my instructable if you want to see Marshie in a fan­cy slide show! I hope Marshie gets into the con­test. The Instructable Robot said it can take up to 48 hours for the mod­er­a­tors to review and approve entries. It’s been 28 hours and 21 min­utes, and last time I checked Marshie still has­n’t appeared on the con­test page… I can’t think of a rea­son why he would­n’t get in though. The only require­ment for the con­test is that the project involves yarn. I guess I’m just being doubt­ful because, like I said, I’ve nev­er put my work “out there” before. Sigh. Some­one on Instructa­bles com­pli­ment­ed Marshie on his pic­tures though, so that was an encouragement.

“I won­der if Marshie’s going to win…” I said.

“Well, you know what you’ve already won?” asked Mike.


“Marshie the Mon­ster­mal­low!” exclaimed Mike.

Mike’s the best, and he came up with “Mon­ster­mal­low”. I just came up with Marshie. But not to be con­fused with Marshie the Marsh­mal­low.

Any­hoo. I’ll sure­ly keep you post­ed about the Crit­ter Con­test. Have a hap­py Wednesday!

wisdom from an acorn

From this post by The Small Object Steno Pad.

It makes me think about what it means to hold my ground, and for what.

It makes me think about what it means to have faith, to be sure of what I hope for, to be cer­tain of what I do not see.

And I thought this is a rather beau­ti­ful reminder:

We believe sto­ries are valu­able, no mat­ter how many peo­ple read them.
We believe fol­low­ing your pas­sion is more impor­tant that watch­ing your site meter.
We believe in the hand­made, the first try, the small start, and the good effort.
We believe that small is beautiful.

From The Small is Beau­ti­ful Manifesto
(to learn more click on the “Small is Beau­ti­ful” but­ton on the side bar)

Just think­ing about the small things this morn­ing. More to come lat­er, hope­ful­ly today. But for now, I need to get some gro­ceries and some school work done (meh).

horchata fiesta

After lis­ten­ing to Hor­cha­ta by Vam­pire Week­end, my culi­nar­i­ly adven­tur­ous hus­band Mike decid­ed that he was going to spend the first day of his East­er week­end mak­ing hor­cha­ta. Being Chi­nese, drink­ing uncooked rice water sound­ed a bit scary to me ini­tial­ly. But after try­ing it once while work­ing at a sum­mer camp last year, I have to turn my back on my Chi­nese roots *sigh* and admit that I quite like it.

And after con­tem­plat­ing for half a morn­ing Mike decid­ed to use the recipe by Aaron Sanchez.

First, he pulsed rice and cin­na­mon stick in blender, until he got very cool-look­ing lay­ers of coarse­ly ground rice and cin­na­mon. And my dou­ble-joint­ed left thumb is equal­ly cool-look­ing here.

Then, he poured the liq­uid (keep out the grind!) into a large bowl and let it sit on the counter for… ever. Or more like 4 hours.

After that, he sift­ed the liq­uid by pour­ing it into a tea infuser. Not that he was try­ing to be extra fan­cy, we just don’t have a sift.

Final­ly, he blend­ed it one last time. The result looked a tad more pink than I remem­bered. So, I must say, as much as I love Mike, I was a bit skeptical…

After let­ting it sit in the fridge for anoth­er 4 hours, the moment of truth…

It’s actu­al­ly quite good!

So, here we have it, hor­cha­ta! If you haven’t learned how to make hor­cha­ta after look­ing at my pho­to illus­tra­tion, then at least you have learned that I have a dou­ble-joint­ed left thumb and I’m cross-eyed. On a side note, if you’re hav­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly bad morn­ing, may I sug­gest toast water, and rue the day!

Any­ways. On a slight­ly relat­ed note, I’ve decid­ed to enter Instructa­bles’ Crit­ter Con­test! (It’s slight­ly relat­ed to hor­cha­ta because my sub­mis­sion has some­thing to do with rice. Kind of.) Since it’s a con­test, I fig­ure I would do more than just snap a few pho­tos of my crea­ture on our black cof­fee table. So, I spent an hour this after­noon doing a “pho­to shoot”. Here’s what the set­up looked like:

Will write more about it soon!

Hope every­one’s had a good East­er weekend!