30 January 2012

DIY Soft Toy

I had an old bath mat in the cupboard that I didn't know what to do with. It was pink and really tiny and didn't function well enough to be called a bath mat. Plus it was only a dollar so no real waste there. I can't remember where I saw the idea, but it was on someones blog and they had made a plushie sun out of towel fabric. The idea came to mind when I was trying to figure out what to do with the mat. So I took out my scissors and cut it up! Again, this was all sewn by hand which was much harder than usual because the material was thicker! My ribbon came out so uneven lol and I pricked myself numerous times, but it can be done! 

You will need:
needle and thread
puffy paint
Optional: bells

I started by tracing a CD to get a perfect circle. I'm sure there are better ways of doing this, but that's what I did. I also bound two pencils together with rubber bands for the seam allowance. Not that it really mattered. I just really wanted to try it hahaha. Idea from Pinterest ;)

Cut them out.

 Get your ribbons and cut them up to the lengths you want. Also get 2 or 3 bells ready to stuff inside.

Fold the ribbons in half and pin them to the fabric (which should be right way up) with the loop ends facing the center of the circle. 

Place the second circle on top of the first with the back facing up.
Sew around the edge as tightly as you can, making sure to get the ribbon too. Leave a gap open about 1-2 inches long. You will have to take a piece of ribbon out and sew that in later.

Trim the edges if you want. 

Flip it inside out. Half stuff with stuffing, put the bells in the middle, fill in the rest and sew up hole. Remember to also sew in the last piece of ribbon! You'll have to do it backwards but it's easy enough. (I forgot to put the bells into mine hahaha and I couldn't be bothered unpicking it!)

Draw a face with puffy paint! It's non-toxic so it's OK.
And you are done!

Trying to suss out what it is...

 Nom nom nom


I guess this could be used to practice picking things up because of all the long tags..? If I could do this again, I would probably make the tags shorter though and cut out the center and turn it into a ring so it is easier to grab. 
Still learning! ^_^

27 January 2012

T-Shirt Repurposing: Plastic Bag Holder

This was my little project for yesterday and I am SO GLAD that I have one of these again in my life! We used to have a plastic bag holder back in the nineties that had an opening at the top to put the bags in, and an opening at the bottom to take them out! But then... it disappeared and was replaced by... a plastic bag lol. This is what all my plastic bags have been looking like for the past 2 years... and in this pic they are relatively tame haha usually they are over flowing out of the bag!

Don't act like yours isn't too! Hahaha... :/

 But now they finally have a home :D By the way, the t-shirt says "Inhale, Exhale, Repeat" lol random.
I have been wanting to make one of these for EVER! But as you all should know by now, I don't have a sewing machine -_- (Mum said she's going to send me a mini one! ^_^) and so I had to think out side the box! And speaking of boxes, I have 2 big ones full of clothes that I am trying to get rid of. I thought heyyyy if I use a t-shirt, I don't have to sew the seams! And so I got started. It was kind of a trial and error thing because I wasn't sure how I was going to go about doing this... but anyway

To do this you will need:
a t-shirt
sewing needle and thread

Turn your t-shirt in side out and unpick the side seam stitching on the neckline just enough to fit the elastic through.

 Thread through the elastic using a safety pin or those fancy threaders. I just used a paper clip.
Tie the elastic in a knot, trim, and sew the unpicked part back up.

 Unpick the stitching on the side seam at the bottom of the shirt and thread through more elastic.
Tie, trim, and sew.

 Turn your shirt out so it's right way up and attach some ribbon to the top of the bag on either side of the neck line opening.
(At this stage I felt like the bag was wayyy to fat! I had to make it narrower somehow!)
Turn back inside out. Cut off the sleeves and bring the sides in to the center evenly. Sew up the edges on the sides and cut off the remaining material. Sew up any holes there may be.

Flip the t-shirt back out and you should get something like this!

 Stuff it with plastic bags :)

Hang it on the door or on the wall somewhere. 

At this point in the making I was a bit hmmm about it. It was too long for my liking and kind of insect-y because it was fatter at the bottom ewww... so I gave it the chop! I cut off the bottom, hand stitched a seam, thread through elastic and... 

Voila! Smaller version complete:D I like this one way better than the longer one. It's not the fanciest looking one out there but mehhh it does the trick.

 Put the bags in the top and pull the out from the bottom. It hides all those plastic bags and keeps them all together and not on my kitchen floor;)

Now when that mini sewing machine arrives, look out world!!

23 January 2012

Quick Tip! How to Cut Tomatoes with the Seeds Showing Every Time

This might seem a bit basic to some... but I only learnt this technique a couple years ago and thought it was amazing haha. I guess I am easily impressed! I was at an enrichment activity in Osaka, and one of the ladies was making a salad and just randomly said to me "Do your know how to cut tomatoes?" And I was thinking.. ummm ya? Who doesn't? And then she continued to show me that if you cut across the natural line on the top of a tomato, you will always get the pretty seedy side. I remember thinking what! o_O? You can do that? Hahahah anyway I have been cutting my tomatoes like this ever since :D

I don't know if you can see it, but there is a line going across horizontally across the top of the tomato. It should also be slightly indented.

Cut perpendicular to that line

And you should get the seedy side every time :D

If you don't, then it might turn out like this with only the flesh showing :/

Yay for pretty seedy tomatoes!
The end ^_^

*Side note* These will work well with cherry tomatoes because they are already small and only need to be cut once!

20 January 2012

Reia's First Snow :)

I woke up this morning to a wonderful sight... SNOW! And a lot of it! I haven't seen a lot of snow in my life so it is always nice to see it (when I'm inside and warm in my pajamas lol). In between my apartment building and the next, there must have been at least 3 different wind currents because the snow seemed to be falling in layers from different directions. It was really pretty :)

Reia was ready to see snow for the first time! We didn't get any pictures in the snow though because it wasn't cold enough to settle, but maybe later on this week if this weather keeps up! We just kinda looked at it from the balcony. That was enough for me anyway haha.

 She loves sticking her tongue out! Maybe she was trying to lick a snowflake

She didn't really react that much... she just stared at it hahaha


 That was so much fun Mummy!!

 OK Tokyo, that is enough snow for me. It was nice looking at it from inside, but after trudging through it for 15 minutes to get to Reia's check up, with wet shoes and socks -_-, I think I can honestly say I am not a winter person. Sorry all you snow lovers out there! The only thing I like about winter are all the hot one pot meals like Nabe! MmMmMmm! Might have to do a post on that.

Oh, and I just finished making a special little project so I will post that tomorrow ;)



19 January 2012

Quick Tip! How to Remove Yellow Baby Poop Stains from Clothing!

I have been doing this ever since Reia was about 1 month old and I was so shocked that the answer to all my yellow problems was so simple! It was after she had had a few EXPLOSIONS that had leaked aaall up her back and onto her nice merino vests that I realized I had a problem. The stains would just not wash out and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on stain removers and things. So I decided to trust in google to find a solution for me. And sure enough it did! I knew there were clever Mum's out there that had already been there and done that. I'm sure a lot of you more experienced Mum's must know this already, but for those of you just starting out with your new bundle of joy, do not panic when your little one stains that gorgeous white blessing gown or that brand new sweater from Grandma! Just follow these simple (and I mean simple) instructions.

Step 1: Remove as much poop from the clothing as you can
Step 2: Wash as you would normally (the sooner the better)
Step 3: Hang or lie flat in a very sunny spot! Make sure there is direct sunlight on the stain
Step 4: Prepare to be amazed as the stain disappears!

That's right everyone, the answer to your problems is sunshine :) I told you it was simple! As a new mum, I was just so amazed that it was that easy! The sun pretty much bleaches out the stain. And the best part is that it's FREE! So if you don't want to spend money on expensive bleaches and cleaners that could irritate baby's skin, then try this. It has worked for me time and time again. The only thing is to make sure that there is continuous sunlight directly on the stain while it's drying. If the garment specifically says not to be put in direct sunlight then... your on your own lol. There have been times when I have given in and used a basic stain spot remover and sunlight together for those extra stubborn stains, I won't lie. And other times I have just given the clothes more sunlight. In the end, the stains should eventually come out.

Now unfortunately, I have read that this only works for babies that are still being breastfed or formula fed. So for those Mums that already have a baby on solids... Oxiclean is your friend lol. Who knows, it might still work? Speaking of which, not long now before Reia starts on solids! I'm not sure what to start her on over here. I have seen some interesting flavours though! There's cheese gratin, kenchin udon (tofu and veges with noodles), cheese dessert, and tomato and fruit dessert! What a selection! There are also some really yummy sounding ones like mango pudding, apple and peach dessert, peach and white grape jelly... wow! However the range from Watties back home also sounds YUM! Custard with strawberry and banana, creamy banana porridge, chicken pasta and veges... MmMmmMm!! 

Oh right, back to the poop lol! Give that a go! It's free and it's always available (except for those rainy days). Today is particularly sunny and I have a lovely load of laundry just waiting to be washed.


*Update* My friend just told me that LEMON JUICE and sunlight works too! Thanks Magali :D

14 January 2012

I saw Girls Generation!!

I'm not that much of a fan, but my Mum is and so I pretty much took videos and pictures for her sake (you're welcome :P)
Jun and I were at a Jewelry Convention the other day which was HUGE! Makes our ASB Show Grounds look like a car park, honestly! There were people from all over the world selling diamonds and pearls *drool* and security was tight! There must have been millions and millions of dollars worth of jewelry that day! 

When we got there we found out that babies weren't allowed inside :( So Jun and I had to take turns perusing around all the sparkly jewels. While I was waiting for my turn, I noticed that a group had gathered in front of me and people were slowly lining up behind them. I thought that maybe they were all just really eager to listen to the live jazz band that was performing. Jun came out and so it was my turn to go inside and oooohhh myyyyy goodnessss I have never seen sooo many diamonds in my LIFE! They were in PILES! The prettiest sight I have ever seen! Until I saw the price tag. That made me feel a bit swoozy lol. There were also emeralds and rubies and sapphires and gold arghhhhh! So anyway, when I came out of the hall the crowed had increased 10 times! There were people all up the stairs, on the balconies, in swarms! I felt sorry for the security guards because when they were telling everyone to move back, everyone just ignored them and stood still and so the crowed kept growing. I got stuck half way and couldn't make it back to Jun and had to find another way. Just goes to show that no matter where you are in Japan, there will be people and lots of them! A few minutes later from the far left hand side, cameras started flashing and people started running which could only mean that the guests had arrived. They all lined up on the stage. There were also Japanese actresses there, but I only recognized Yuko from the girl group AKB48 and Honda from the Japanese soccer team, and then of course Girls Generation! Some of you might know them as the group that sung that song, Gee :)

Reia was asleep and safe with Daddy and so I pulled out my camera and got lost in the crowd. Everyone else had their phones out ad this one guys ARM was in my direct line of vision so I couldn't get a decent picture without his arm being in the foreground arghhh! But I got the video :) Girls Generation are the ones closest to me!

Actually, now that I've watched both videos, only half of the group came. I don't know who is who but I am sure my Mum could tell me their names.

Famous people and stupid guy's hand on the left >_<
Girls Generation
They were only on stage for about 5 minutes while they were being introduced and then they walked off stage and we never saw them again! I wonder how much they got paid to just stand there o_O? Anyways it was cool. I got my thrills hehe ^^ I never get to see famous people in Japan. Especially for FREE. In New Zealand, you just randomly bump into them at the super market! Aaaah New Zealand. After living in Japan, somehow home feels so.... empty lol. But I like it like that. Gives me more air to breath! I'll be back in September! The meat pies are already on my mind. ...How did I go from Korean Idol Group to meat pies? Perfect illustration of how my mind works. It always goes back to FOOD! Hahaha must be time for lunch.


11 January 2012

It's a MIRACLE!!

I am trying not to be too hasty in writing this post... BUT I can't help myself! She put herself to SLEEP! Without a peep! I know it can't be due to my awesome parenting skills (lol) so it must be this new thing I have been trying. And I have only started using it literally for 2 days now. Is this too good to be true??

The idea came from Mum who found it on a blog. While Mum was over here in Japan, Reia had been having tummy problems and wasn't able to do number 2's without sounding like she was in complete agony. I thought it might have been constipation... but her poop wasn't hard at all. It was quite the opposite. So I didn't really know what to do. And I'm sure, like many Mum's out there, I felt so helpless when she would cry and stare at me with those EYES as if to say "DO SOMETHING!" Ahhhh breaks my heart every time :( 

Anyway, the idea is too put a warm rice and lavender pack on baby's tummy and swaddle. Easy! The original idea can be found here. The lady who does this originally used a sock but then later spruced it up by sewing a cute pouch for it. I don't have a sewing machine to do anything fancy (I wish!), so poor Reia get's the sock! 

To do this you will need:
1 clean tube sock
2 Cups of rice
Lavender essential oil (I used Doterra)
Microwave for heating

Pour rice into a bowl
Stir in 4 drops of the essential oil into the rice. 
Mix well.
*Essential oil is very concentrated so you only need a little bit. 2 drops per cup should be plenty*
Funnel into a sock and secure with a knot.
Heat in the microwave for about 40 seconds. 
(You don't want it to be too hot!)
Place over baby's tummy and swaddle her in!

I know it sounds pretty basic, but it's working for me! Again, I might be being a little bit hasty here :O but I think that it is such a good idea. And here is the final product! Not much to look at, but it does the trick :D
The life saving sock!
Wasn't that easy? As soon as I did this and slowly rocked her side to side on her back, she stopped crying IMMEDIATELY. I could have been a fluke, but hey I welcome those!

Jun and I decided to start training Reia to put herself to sleep 2 nights ago. Just so you have an idea, Reia does not like to be swaddled and alone while she is still awake! We used the rice pack this time and swaddled her in. The first night she cried and cried for 15 minutes and then fell asleep. I thought to myself that 15 minutes wasn't so bad. But the really baffling part comes next. Last night at 9pm we did the same thing as the night before and swaddled her in with the rice pack. We closed the door and waited for the cries to start. We waited and waited and waited for about 15 minutes. .....nothing. NOTHING! Not a sound! I thought that maybe she was just staring up at the ceiling or something but when Jun checked on her, he came out with a look on his face that could only confirm my suspicions. She had fallen asleep by herself without a sound! This just blew my mind! In fact, since that first night she has even been putting herself to sleep for naps during the day without my assistance. Was it because of the rice pack? Was it because she was just really tired? Is she just ready? I guess I will find out when bed time rolls around tonight!

It must be the combination of warmth and the calming effect of the lavender that does something. I know I will continue using this! At least until her tummy calms down. For all other Mums that may be experiencing the same thing... give this a go! It can't hurt to try :) And if you have a sewing machine, make a pouch for it lol.


09 January 2012

New Years Hiatus Over!

Happy New Year everyone!

I finally have enough time to sit down and write on my blog!! It's been 2 weeks since my last post and so much has happened since! I have been meaning to write updates but there was never a moments peace to do so. It's funny. I have really only just started blogging again recently, and now I constantly find myself taking pictures of everything and saying "Oohh, this will look good on my blog!" Hahaha :) Isn't it funny how having a child changes everything about you? I remember thinking to myself that I would never be that woman who loves crafty things and oohs and aahs over different kinds of ribbons and other knick knacks. That woman sounds very much like my Mum. And yet, here I am, in Japan, oohing and aahing over ribbons and other knick knacks. Those of you that know my Mother would know that she has a whole room dedicated to stamps, inks, ribbons, papers etc, etc.. The very unexpected is happening people! I am becoming my Mother! Ha! Or perhaps this is something inevitable that happens once you have children? Either way, it's exciting stuff! I'm curious to know if any Mums out there have been bitten by the "craft bug" too! Let me know if you have or not and what kind of things your into!

I guess I should share how my New Years went :)
It all started with my Mum visiting for a week. We did heaps in while she was here. I'm sure most of you have read her posts on Facebook and already know what we did. But to recap, we went to the Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, ate heaps of food which she couldn't get enough of, shopping, met up with heaps of friends and went to Osaka for the New Year.
Tokyo Tower during the day
Sushi train!
Tokyo Sky Tree
Ever since I stepped onto the Bullet Train to go down to Osaka, I had had the worst migraine evaaaar! It was so bad I couldn't do anything! Just sleep. So I slept the whole night away and missed out on all my favourite tv shows :( During New Years in Japan, all the comedians come out with all these crack up tv shows, that I missed!!! There's also a J-Pop concert and a battle of the sexes singing contest. Meanwhile, I'm asleep in La-La-Land trying to shake the pain in my head. So my New Years Eve wasn't so eventful. But I did get to eat soba noodles :) That is the tradition in Japan. They have different kinds of special foods that are served during New Years called "osechi." It's interesting because all the food that you eat has a special meaning. For example, the soba noodles that are eaten are long. This represents longevity. They also eat other things like fish roe to symbolize posterity (but I give that a miss). Another cool tradition is that the women cook and prepare all of these osechi foods in advance so that they don't have to cook and stress out during the first few days of the new year. I like the thought of that :D

After just waking up to eat my soba noodles!
Very tasty ^_^ 
Extended family came over and everyone just ate and hung out, it was cool. It was nice hanging out with Jun's fam, especially this time around, because I can understand more of what everyone is saying. Not eeeeverything... proabably like 70%. But it's a lot more than I understood last year! The problem now is not the understanding, but the replying. That is the hardest. I just don't know enough vocabulary to keep up with everyone. But I think that with time I will get it! During this time with family, everyone gives money to the kids. It's called "otoshidama." Usually the amount you get depends on how old you are and they're given in cute little envelopes. I wasn't expecting Reia to get anything because she's so young, but she got A LOT! I think it was so much because it also counted as a congratulatory gift for having a new baby. Reia is one lucky little girl!

and she doesn't even know it :) 
The next day we went to visit the local shrine. All the roads were blocked off and so what was supposed to be a 15 minute drive turned into 40 lol. Anyway, we made it! I threw my coins into the designated box at the foot of the the temple and made my wishes. Then came my favourite part. The FOOD! There are always different food stalls set up around the temple grounds. Yakisoba and the candied strawberries are my fav :) It is also tradition to visit the grandparents graves and pay your respects. I personally think that Japanese graveyards are so cool-looking compared to some of the ones back home. Mum really enjoyed doing this too.

Yakisoba! Which literally means, fried noodles.
Speaking of Mum, it was so nice to have her here. She loved and noticed everything about Japan! I'm talking about from the lamp shades in my house to the bean bag pillows we use, to the cleanliness of the people to the way they wash their dishes hahaha. And it made me feel so ungrateful that I don't notice and appreciate all the little things about Japan too. So thanks to her, I have come to and appreciate them more :) I think I might do a "10 Things I Love about Japan" post very soon ;)

Well, this year is going to be pretty busy. I hope I can keep up and continue blogging! I am also trying to start my own little hula class and maybe teach some English on the side. It's Reia's first birthday in August and my brother comes home off his mission in September. This year is going to be crazy busy! So much to do, so little time! And you will all know how it goes right here on my blog in my little corner of the web :) 

I hope you all have a happy new year this year!