Tuesday, April 29, 2008

as I like it

Yum. Since we just made yakisoba, we also had the ingredients for okonomiyaki, my favorite Japanese food. My cookbook calls it the "As You Like It Pancake", which I always find kind of funny. No maple syrup on this pancake! We didn't have any kewpie mayonnaise, so I just spread a little regular mayo and used okonomiyaki sauce, and that worked. The recipe book is a bilingual one we bought in Japan. It came in super handy in Japan when we had to ask someone in the supermarket where to find an ingredient--I could just point to the page and use my very limited Japanese to say "Where is this?"

I'm looking forward to eating more zaru soba in the coming months. I learned to love these cold noodles during the hot summer, but got out of the habit of making them. A zaru tray sure would make it fun!

Monday, April 28, 2008

inside and out

Lately I can really identify with Rashida's wanting to take her sewing machine outside. The weather is so gorgeous that it just feels wrong to stay inside! So Saturday, Kobe and I hung out in the yard, and while the sewing machine doesn't travel so well, my sketchbook and seam ripper do! (I forgot to sew in my little tags when I was making these tissue pockets.)

Back inside, I am loving our new dining room paint color. It's actually the second color we bought for the room, but I'm so happy I pushed for the greyish brown. The other color will just have to go somewhere else in the house. And this no-VOC paint (in 'Natural Wilderness') goes on so smoothly, with some sheen that really shows the texture of our plaster walls.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

depth of field

I've been messing around with my camera some more, especially trying to understand the how and why of apertures and depth of field. I'm starting to realize how much you can control how your photo turns out. It's a lot like drawing or painting--you decide what you want to portray and then select and apply the elements that will achieve it. It can be such a creative art, not just a way to document memories, which is all I've really used a camera for in the past.

Today I picked out fabrics to use for sewing pocket bags for the craft fair next weekend.

I also sewed up some tissue pockets to sell next weekend. I'm trying to tie together each group of items with a cohesive color palette. Coordinated collections of things always make me want to buy, so maybe this will help me sell!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

oh, esprit

I bought this Esprit dress while I was in NY. The shape reminds me of the built by wendy pattern (which I have but have yet to sew anything from). I was so excited to find the Esprit store when I was there, and E hadn't arrived yet, so I could spend as much time as I wanted. I loved Esprit in high school and college. My roommates and I would drive to Orlando for the day, mainly to hit the Esprit outlet. But then the outlet, the website, and the brand disappeared. When I searched for the Esprit link, I found their website, and they've got a great shipping/return policy!

I love this dress, but I was thinking of cutting the sleeves to make normal short sleeves. It's one way to get some of this fabric to use in sewing projects:)

Over the weekend, I helped a friend photograph a wedding. Since she's a pro, she has all this gear that makes it possible to do some really cool things. With a giant lens, my little camera was able to take some pretty amazing shots. It was hard work, but I learned so much. I'm taking photos on manual mode now, and it actually makes sense!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

just for fun

Well, I got a little frustrated with the bag-making. I'm just not in the mood to do the thinking involved. So I started a mindless project, just for fun. I'm thinking of doing another craft fair in a few weeks, and maybe I can have this little quilt ready by then. The piecing is so easy and forgiving, yet it's so rewarding to see the combination of colors and patterns all together.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Thank you for the great suggestions for the ikea fabric. I'm thinking of using it to cover a canvas or corkboard, not to attach things, but just to display the fabric. Yep, upholstering the walls!

Every semester, my advanced students listen to a lecture on perfectionism as part of their listening class. We take a little survey beforehand to see who in the class is a perfectionist, and I always score somewhere in the middle. But for some reason, this time, parts of the lecture caught my attention. "Perfectionists constantly strain to reach unattainable goals." Is this me?

I mean, my blog title references my need to have things 'just like so'. However, my day-to-day habits don't really seem like those of a perfectionist. I let the housework go (a lot), I procrastinate at work, I'm pretty flexible with my students. But I'm constantly frustrated with the results.

At home, I'm reading The Wabi Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty. I do appreciate imperfect beauty, and this book is making me realize that wabi sabi is not only about aesthetics, but also about attitude. I want to let go, and be OK with it. Everybody's house gets messy when it's busy, right?

Alright, there's a basket of laundry waiting to be folded. Or maybe I should just let it go...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

it's back!

With so much time away from my work room, it had really gotten messy and uninspiring. A bit of organization and cleaning brought back the creative energy that seemed to be blocked by all the clutter. One addition that took care of a stack of to-be-hung items is my new display wire. Just some floral wire and clips from Muji. From left to right: a print from Tiffany, my print, photos from my brother's wedding, card from E's sister, drawing from my friend's very artistic mom.

I've got so many ideas bouncing around in my head, like a new everyday bag--I'm thinking black canvas--and a beachy bag made from my Thai fabric. I've gathered some measurements and pattern ideas based on bags I saw at Old Navy and Target, and I made a small scale prototype for the Thai fabric bag. I'm happy with the design, but I want to put some pockets in the lining. I've found several tutorials, like this one at uhandblog, on installing zippered pockets, but I never use the zipper in bags that have it. Is there a way to do put one in without a zipper, or can I follow the tutorials and skip the zipper?

And I bought this panel of patterned linen from Ikea a couple months ago. It was pre-cut, about 2 yards rolled up there. It's a little sheer, but the colors would work in most of my house. I think it would look great as a window panel, but all the windows are covered (literally!). Any ideas?

Monday, April 7, 2008

ny highlights

Well, NY was awesome. We saw, did, and ate so much! After my work conference, E flew up to meet me. Some highlights were:
Bryant Park--the bare trees + surrounding skyline made it such a peaceful place to look through my new book on sashiko

Staten Island Ferry--man, was it cold!
The Courthouse (we're big Law and Order fans:))

Rice to Riches--this futuristic shop caught E's eye on the way to lunch, so we stopped in for dessert afterwards. Amazing rice pudding in every imaginable flavor! chocolate hazelnut + cheesecake--yum.
Hairspray and Mary Poppins on Broadway

Central Park

And probably my favorite stop of all: MoMA. There was just so much to look at, and I couldn't believe we got in free! (E's employer is a corporate sponsor.) I loved seeing all the things that prove you can achieve both form and function. This was something I often wondered while living in Japan--why do we (in the US) settle for ugly so often? Good design and practicality are not mutually exclusive!

It was a lot packed into just a few days, and we found a great hotel to stay in, so we'll have to go back soon!