sunday video

Stop-motion animation + hot drinks on a rainy day = ♥ ♥ ♥
Enjoy! (via swissmiss)

Edit: The video that I wanted to share worked this morning, but then it wasn’t accessible when I checked it again :( (it’s like that one time when we rented a Miyazaki movie, but only to find out after we got home that Home on the Ranch was inside the DVD case) But no worries, here’s one that’s equally awesome  in the stop motion category, and even more awesome in the cute category :D Enjoy!

[vimeo 14190306]

(Psst! See how you can make your own Marcel the Shell here!)

favourite things friday!

Continuing with more of flowery crafts this week, and some sea creatures too — for the anticipation of summer! :D

 

Another genius, simple, and super adorable tutorial from Ruffles and Stuff! Don’t even need to break out my needles and thread for this one :D

 

The instruction calls for floral paper punch (a Martha Stewart one, to be specific :P), but I think once the fabric is stiffened it would be easy to just hand cut these, no? How-to on the Martha website.

 

Also from the Martha website, these are quite addictive! It did take me a while to figure out how to make them. It seems to me that the video (on the right sidebar of the Martha website) has left out a bunch of steps. I eventually gave up after watching that same clip 5+ times and just tried to figure it out by looking at the picture (maybe I’m just dense…). But once I understood the structure it was really fun to make. I’ve made quite a few cards already, like this one from last week… in the middle of making more…

 

A dainty flower brooch made from crocheting thread. Simple and sweet. Pattern by Goodknits.

 

Also sweet is this clothes pin bunny. Tutorial from Maya Made.

 

Another brilliant use of everyday object — cork characters! I especially love this ninja, but there are also patterns for a gnome and a knight. I can see the potential of making a whole series of outfits for the cork guys! I’m not a wine-drinker, but I have friends who appreciate a glass of red with the beef from time to time. I need to visit them more often. Patterns generously shared by Lucy Ravenscar.

 

A whale for hire! To store your headphones and keep them clean and safe! It’s such an awesome design it’s definitely worth more than the $3 download fee! If you prefer crocheting, like me (that’s because I can’t knit very well… but that’s another story), there’s a crochet version of the whale too! On Roman Sock.

 

How awesome are these? Knitted nautilus! When I was a kid I went through this phase of obsession with fossils and prehistoric creatures (ok, I still let out a not-so-subtle squeal when I find rocks with fossils at the beach). I once wanted to become an archeologist (ok, I still wish I were an archeologist). So, all that is to say that these belong on my couch. Pattern is free on Knitty, so all I need now is better knitting skills.

 

Saw this on Whip Up, which features a nice review on the book Puppet Play, where this cat puppet comes from. The cat puppet tutorial is a sample project, made with a sweater sleeve, a scarf, or a leg warmer.

 

I’ve always wondered whether beets would make a good dyeing, painting, or printing material, because it stains absolutely everything (especially the white chopping board). These lovely beet prints are from My Little Hen.

 

These really remind me of the legendary turducken. It’s a strawberry, stuffed with cake, and covered in thick layer of chocolate. Though they are definitely more appealing (to me, anyway) than the turducken. A very detailed tutorial on 1 Fine Cookie.

 

Ok, humour me for a moment, and imagine that it’s rush hour, and you’re on a crowded subway train, and you see that all around you are men and women dressed in pressed business suits wearing these face masks, nodding at their smart phones… That thought really made me chuckle when I first spotted the face mask stylus on Inspire Me Now.

 

On that note, have a fun-and-laughter-filled weekend, everyone! :D

the most magical time of the year


I vote cherry blossom season to be the most magical time of the year.

Walking underneath canopy after canopy of pink and white blossoms is such an incredible experience. You look up and there are millions of petals gently swaying in the wind. An endless sea of flowers. It really feels surreal. (I tried to capture that experience in a video too, it’s posted here if you haven’t seen it :D)

We’ve only started going to High Park to see the cherry blossoms in the last couple of years (having lived in Toronto for some 13 years now, why I didn’t start going before last year is beyond me), but we so look forward to it every spring. I’m sure lots of people do too — there was already a sizable crowd in the early morning.

High Park organizes a cherry blossom walk every year, but I don’t think there’s an official festival for the cherry blossoms in Toronto. But I call it a festival anyway — it’s such a lovely celebration of spring’s arrival, and the cherry trees themselves represent a wonderful piece of history as well. The trees were donated to High Park in 1959 by the City of Tokyo, in appreciation of Toronto accepting relocated Japanese-Canadians after the 2nd World War.

Here’s Zumi’s take on a flower bud. I really like what this photo captured — the sparkling light, the soft and delicate petals, the subtle shade of pink before full bloom to white.

And here’s Zumi’s take on a certain festival-goer, with his film camera. Who uses a film camera nowadays? That’s why I love him ;)

This really has nothing to do with the cherry blossom, but I just wanted to show you this taro brick toast I had, when we stopped for a snack after the park. I’ve had green tea brick toast, and condensed milk brick toast, but never taro (brick toast is a Taiwanese snack made with a really thick piece of toast, with butter and various toppings). I was intrigued. It was so purple!

My only regret of the day was that I forgot to bring Sakura Mochi with me :( So I hung it on my purse the next day when we went out to church.

But then after church a friend mentioned that he had walked by a bunch of cherry trees in the morning near Robarts Library, and offered to take us there to see them. So yay! Sakura Mochi still gets a picture with the cherry blossoms this year! (Psst! To crochet your own sakura mochi for the season see here)

These trees are part of the Sakura Project, gifted by the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto as a symbol of friendship and goodwill.

While taking yet more photos of cherry blossoms (don’t worry, I’ll just keep them to myself rather than dumping them all here :P) I spotted this red and white cord tied to a branch. It’s something that I have seen several times last spring, here, and here.

So that made me really curious, and I did some digging (i.e. Googling). I’ve always thought that it has to do with a Japanese tradition, because of the red and white colours. But am I ever wrong! The red and white cords are part of a Romanian tradition, Mărțișor, meaning “little March”, and celebrated on March 1st for the arrival of spring. The cords have a really poetic meaning: the white symbolizes winter, and the red represents spring, fire, blood — the symbol of life; the entwined cord therefore symbolizes the passing and coming of the seasons, the continuous cycle of nature. The red and white cords are worn as pins and then tied to the branches when the trees begin to bloom.

Ah, it’s nice to learn something new everyday :D

I hope you’re enjoying some lovely spring weather like we do here!

 

 

 

sandal season! :D


I bought these shoes in Singapore, when we went on the trip last November. After 5 cold months of waiting and looking at them on my shoe rack longingly, I’m finally wearing them today for the first time! :D

I’m not a shoe person, and I loath shoe-shopping, because my feet are weirdly shaped and it’s difficult to find shoes that don’t hurt. I’ve never worn heels in my life for that reason. But these were almost an impulse purchase (well, more like a “pressure” purchase). I saw an old lady wearing shoes like those at the beach and I really liked them (yes, an old lady). Then I saw them at a market place in Singapore so I stopped to take a closer look. But as soon as I held the shoes in my hands the shopkeeper lady immediately pulled up a stool behind me and demanded that I sit down and try them on. So I did and they seemed to fit, and the next thing I knew the lady was standing in front of me with a plastic bag ready to close the deal. So I paid.

And you might ask, What?! What kind of push-over are you? Well, the worst kind. I mean, I did do some quick calculations in my head and figured that the shoes cost around $6 CAD. And they did fit. So I took the easier route and just bought it. It would’ve been harder for me to put them back and walk away feeling like I’ve offended the storekeeper.

So, anyway. I do love these shoes. They’re going to be my sandals for the summer. I wore them around this morning and it felt alright.

So that was my thought of the day. Just enjoying the sun.

Cheerio!

 

blooming kaleidoscope


Recently I received a lovely email from a visitor to the blog :D She’s an editor of a book arts journal in Australia (being able to connect with wonderful people from different corners of the globe is one of the best things about keeping a blog! :D), who kindly shared not only encouraging words but also lots of great ideas and inspiration about printmaking and book arts. (One of which is gelatin printing — so intriguing! I’ve got to try that out soon!)

Conversations about book arts reminded me of a bookbinding class I took while in university. (Ah, that was quite a few years ago…) The bookbinding course was one of my favourite classes, and one of the coolest assignments was the altered book project, using discarded books from the Reference Library.

I pulled this botanical reference book from the discarded book pile.

 

I couldn’t read the text, but I loved the pictures of flowers and plants. One of my first childhood toys was a kaleidoscope, and I remembered how much time I’ve spent looking through it, couldn’t put it down, just mesmerized. I thought the bright photographs of the plants and flowers would make beautiful images to look through with a kaleidoscope. So that was what I made (cylinder on the right), and I covered it with the end papers of the book.

It really does work! See? This is the hole through which one looks in, made with the table of contents.

 

The book now houses the interchangeable “lenses”, made with the pages of photographs and illustrations from the book. Kind of looks like a collection of specimens in petri dishes.

 

The end piece fits around the looking tube like this…

 

And you turn it and take a look through… (psst! click for a larger image!)

 

It’s more crafty than “artsy”, and I guess since I was attending an art college I should be making something “artsy”, with more of a statement or meaning or whatever, but I was rather happy with it. Just a simple appreciation of light and the perfect beauty of nature.

And with the brilliant weather we’ve been having lately, I’ve had a great time looking through all of the “specimens” again with the lovely sunlight streaming through.

In order for the kaleidoscope to work I made the images transparent. That process in itself needs a post of its own, I think. I’ll write about it more in the next week or so, stay tuned! :D

Have a great day! :D

sunday video

So excited to show you this week’s Sunday video — made by yours truly! :D Featuring cherry blossoms at High Park, taken with the Zumi.

I’ve made videos before, but this is the first time I make a montage kind of video. I didn’t start out wanting to make a montage, but I’m not very good at taking videos, and so out of the numerous clips I took (I lost count) only bits and pieces are usable. So I figure I’d just piece them together and hope it works.

Editing the video was a nauseating experience. I don’t have a very steady hand, and I suppose the Zumi isn’t the best camera for taking videos (it’s not shock-proof at all), and I moved around too much too quickly in an attempt to take in as much of the blossoms as possible… So all the flowers and branches and pieces of the sky were all spinning and swirling together on my screen… @_@ Anyway, I cut out all of the intensely swirly bits, and added other relatively still clips that I also took at the park, of the weeping willows, the duck, and the geese for some visual breaks, so hopefully when you view it it would be more enjoyable.

Finally, because Mike is far more knowledgeable in music than I am, he picked a brilliant song clip from his collection, A Tender History in Rust by Do Make Say Think (from Toronto!). It worked out perfectly :D

More pictures of cherry blossoms to follow! Here’s one I really like, also taken by the Zumi.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

favourite things friday

Lots of Mother’s Day ideas this week! But of course, one does not need to wait until Mother’s Day to express appreciation. Here are some crafty gifts that would be wonderful to give to mothers (or other special women in our lives) any time of the year :D

 

Brilliantly simple, charming, and practical — a magnetic reusable to-do list from Frugal Family Fun Blog. Also great for making grocery lists, notes to self, and motivational messages! A wonderful project to make with kids, too!

 

Aren’t these so cute? Makes a lovely key ring or a brooch! I love their ribbon-trimmed tails. Tutorial and templates on Paper-and-String.

 

 

Spring daffodils that keep blooming all year long :D How-to on While She Naps.

 

This one doesn’t only bloom all year long, it’s also wearable! Tutorial and templates for a gorgeous flower headband by Bugs and Fishes — I will have to make one for myself :D

 

No need to spend a fortune at the flower shop. Find some old magazines and take a trip to a nearby patch of grass where the wild flowers grow, and you’ve got a perfect gift! :D Tutorial for magazine flower basket from Made by Joel.

 

Now this requires more work, but will be absolutely worth the effort. Planters made out of old books for succulents! How-to on Apartment Therapy.

 

These certainly make delightful potholders, but I think smaller versions of them would also make great brooches! Free pattern from Delights-Gems.

 

Make some stylish wall art or table decoration (which doubles as a potholder) using the humble sisal or jute rope! How-to on Design Sponge.

 

For the public knitter — make a public knitting critter! :D Pattern by The Thrifty Knitter.

 

For the subway reader — page corner bookmarks! Brilliantly simple but so awesome! How-to on I Could Make That.

 

For the tea lover — Tea Diver by Yanko Design. I love the tiny oxygen tank! (via Inspire me now)

 

Customize a plain ol’ clock! The face of the clock is cleverly covered in tissue paper so one could trace the numbers through it (i.e. none of that divide-the-pie-in-12-equal-parts math). Tutorial at Leon, pas sur les murs! (Blog is in French, I don’t know much French, but the photos are pretty self-explanatory. Plus I use Google Chrome and it translates it for me :D)

 

This was made to be a strawberry party favour, topped with a strawberry plant, but I think it would make a nice kitchen planter, topped with herbs and stuck on the fridge! Instruction on One Charming Party.

 

Made with the same knotting method as the traditional friendship bracelet, but I think I much prefer these bright, bold, and stylish ones made with thick ropes and ribbons. Plus, they don’t take forever to make like the traditional friendship bracelets. Perfect for children’s attention span — oooh, a squirrel! — from p.s. I made this.

 

And sometimes a gift doesn’t have to be something that one can keep forever. It could be a gesture, like making food for someone, or offering someone a simple fruit drink on a hot summer day, like agua fresca, made with fresh fruit, water and ice all blended together into a refreshing goodness. Read further on Make and Takes for more ideas and recipes! (If we go strawberry-picking again this summer I’m definitely making some strawberry agua fresca!)

 

And I just have to post this — not only because he’s so very adorable, but because there’s actually a sushi place called Ninja Sushi in my parents’ neighbourhood, and they make excellent sashimi! You can find this ninja sushi at twistyfishies’ Etsy shop! :D

 

Have a lovely Friday, everyone!

sakura treats

 

Tried the coconut ice recipe I wrote about last week! They’re not like sakura mochi, but I made them pink and white because it is indeed cherry blossom season :D

The recipe calls for desiccated coconut. I didn’t think I would find any in the grocery store and was just going to use the shredded coconut we always see in the baking aisle. But we went to a Chinese grocery store last week and there is was! Desiccated coconut, made by WD Happy Boy.

 

And in the next aisle we found some Lucky Stars condensed milk.

 

Now that we feel both happy and lucky, it is time to get to work! I neglected to take photos of the process, but there was not much to it anyway. Just a lot of stirring, stirring, and s‑s-stir-r-ring. Condensed milk is really thick and with the huge pile of powdered coconut and sugar, the mixture became really thick and a bit difficult to maneuver.

The recipe is supposed to make over 1 kilo of coconut ice. I like coconut, but that’s a bit much, I think. (Great for a bake sale though! Must keep that in mind when Christmas season rolls around.) Plus, I didn’t have enough icing sugar, so I just eye-balled maybe half a bag of coconut and 2/3 can of condensed milk. It made about 3 dozens 1“x1“x1.5″ bars, like these…

And in the morning I had enough condense milk left to make milk toast — delicious! :D Brings back fond childhood memories too.

 

I’m praying for good weather this Saturday, so we can finally visit the cherry blossoms at High Park! If rain is not in the forecast it might be good to bring some of the coconut ice with us for a mini picnic!

It was a beautiful day in our neighbourhood today — hope you’ve enjoyed some lovely sunshine too!

a mind-shrinking experiment!

No joke, when I opened my new package of Shrinky-Dinks, this was what I saw:

Mind-shrinking ideas”.

Hmm.

Do they actually mean mind-bending? Mind-boggling? Mind-blowing? Or, they really did mean mind-shrinking. But then one’s creativity is expected to expand at the same time.

Fascinating.

So, anyway. I bought the Shrinky-Dinks for a commissioned project, which I can’t show you just yet, because… well, I haven’t finished yet, and I’d have to deliver it to the customer first before showing it to you. But soon :D

While I was baking the store-bought shrink plastic, I thought I would also give the #6 plastic a try. Since I first saw the idea on Dabbled I’ve collected a couple of #6 plastic containers, mainly from doughnuts (Yes, I did buy the doughnuts for the plastic, but I certainly enjoyed the sweets too :D).

So here’s one flat piece of #6 plastic I’ve harvested from the doughnut container. The Shrinky Dink manual says that one could use acrylic on the plastic, so I did the same with the #6 plastic…

I think I layered on the paint too thickly. Or acrylic just doesn’t work in the shrink plastic process at all. Or I just really shouldn’t trust those mind-shrinking ideas from the Shrinky Dink manual anymore.

So, when it came out from the oven the paint was all flaking away…


But it shrank beautifully. Nice and thick and perfectly proportional. I was actually really surprised how well it worked, because, you know, it came from a disposable plastic container! I scrubbed away the flaky paint so you can see…

After doing some research (i.e. looking under every kind of plastic container in grocery store) I realized that #6 plastic is actually not that easy to find. Most plastic containers are made of #1 plastic. I pretty much used all of the usable spaces on the doughnut container to make the mushroom (because there was only one flat piece on the top, which was partly covered by a stubborn, sticky piece of label, and the rest of the box have ridges all over it), so I thought I would just wait until I come across more #6 plastic to continue experimenting…

And then, this past weekend we went to the Chinese grocery store and bought some delicious Chinese bakery swiss rolls (it was honeydew melon flavoured :D)…


I actually wanted to get the swiss rolls for the swiss rolls, not for the plastic container. But to my surprise, as we were half way done the swiss rolls, I noticed that the container has a tiny #6 on it — SCORE!

This time, I learned not to use acrylic paint, and instead sanded the plastic thoroughly with some fine sand paper, and then coloured it with pencil crayon.

I made an owl charm…

… and I really like it :D

 

And then, inspired by the lovely necklaces from this shop, I attempted to make a Hong Kong Island charm. If I had the money, I would absolutely order from the shop and have Hong Kong Island made in silver. But for now I’m happy with some recycled plastic.

Hong Kong actually also includes the Kowloon Peninsula and a number of small surrounding islands, but those would be difficult to incorporate in a charm. Plus, I thought Hong Kong Island would make a fun necklace charm because it looks like a frog (like the chant I was taught in school as a child, to learn the geographic features of the land, “Hong Kong Island is shaped like a frog”. In Cantonese, of course).

I printed out a map and traced over it. The first attempt turned out somewhat squished. It looks like it hasn’t completely finished shrinking, but I watched it for half a minute and it didn’t continue to shrink, and I didn’t want it to melt or burn, so I just took it out.


So for the second attempt I stretched the map vertically a bit in Photoshop before printing it, and its shape turned out much better.


Unfortunately, because of where I put the hole it didn’t hang properly (didn’t think it through…). So with the last bit of plastic I tried again.


And that’s what I settled with. It’s stretched a bit funny too, but not because of the baking, but because the map I traced it with was stretched length-wise, since I thought the plastic would stretch sideways in the baking. But now I think plastic has some kind of “grain”, like paper, where it would stretch one way and not the other.

But anyway, it was great fun! My creativity has certainly expanded, but I hope my mind hasn’t shrunk…

And the quest for #6 plastic continues!

Have a great day, everyone! :D