Made by hands, expressed from the heart.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Darth Vader DIY (with leftover Legos).

This year we went to a fun event at the library called MinCon , and it was a cosplay, anime inspired event. And my highlight of the event was a group called Empire Saber Guild, a Star Wars fan group who perform lightsaber choreography for charity.
I was so excited to meet them, and learn more about their passion, I had to dress up someone in this house for the event.
I really would like to have my own costume, but for lack of time to buy material, I only had a few items in the house to make a costume for my son. And he wanted to be Darth Vader.
So I combined an old black pajama top (inside out to hide the print in the front), and used pieces of Lego to make his "buttons".
For the belt I used a piece of black faux leather, and more Legos.
To make the shoulders/chest detail, I used more of the fake leather, and pieces of black foam sheet cut and glued to make the shape.
I attached an old black skirt I had to make the cape. To make the mask was a little tricky, and I had to follow the instructions of RPF Craft Your Fandom on this link: RPF Darth Vader Helmet, to cut pieces of foam sheet, and glue with hot glue gun all the different details.
The top of the helmet can be done with a foam hat from craft stores. I used a heating technique that I plan to show in the future.
This helmet finished a little crooked, but he liked anyway.
And we couldn't forget his lighsaber, made out of pool noodles.
It was so great to go to the library and see all the people for the event.
We had a chance to meet the super nice people from Empire Saber Guild,see their cool lightsabers, and watch their great moves. We took pictures with them. And met other cool characters.
I am hoping to be dressed up for the occasion next year. And maybe in my wildest dreams, one day join the Empire Saber Guild.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer Treat Frozen Strawberry Dessert.

There is always a day that you want to make something nice for dessert, but have no time or no idea of what to make. Thankfully there is Internet and Google for that, and that is how I found this recipe called Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles, from the site Damn Delicious.
The recipe calls for:
1/2 cup of crumbled graham crackers
2 tablespoons of melted butter
Mix together and set aside.

Then in a blender or processor mix:
1 package of cream cheese
2 cups of strawberries
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

The original recipe makes popsicles, but I didn't have any cups or sticks to make them. The only thing I had was a ice cube mold with fish shapes.
And that is what I used: pouring the cream first, and the crumbles on top.
It freezes faster than popsicles, and you can eat one fishy in a bite.
My friends approved, and everyone ate the dessert very fast. Maybe because they melt very fast.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pirate Festival.

The first time I went to the Pirate Festival in the Long Island Maritime Museum, I thought it was a dream.
All the costumes, the music, the pirates and the pirate- talk that I have never experienced before.
So I decided for the next one, I was going to make outfits and dress everybody up like a pirate.
First I made hats using black and white foam sheets from the craft store. Two pieces of black sheets cut in the same shape and glued on the sides, to fit to the head (the top of the head sticks out of this fake hat).
Then I wanted to make a treasure map. So I got some white construction paper and cut in the shape of an old map.
To make the paper look old, I soaked in coffee for a few hours, until stained.
And last I dried in the oven at 400F for about 2 minutes, to dry and burn slightly the edges (but not to set the place on fire).
Finally with a fine black marker, I drew a map (or 2).
But if you don't want to go to all this trouble, just download my maps here:
Pirate Map1
Pirate Map2

To make my kids look more like pirates, I made a belt with a skull buckle. Using paper clay, I made the skulls, and a fake buckle.
Using white foam paper, I cut into swords.
Glued them together.
And painted using gold metallic craft paint.
To make the leather belt, and other accessories, I used different craft papers from Michaels.
And for a final touch, I found a shell necklace at Party City.
We had an old pirate T shirt, and I cut the bottom of his black pants.
It was a fun festival. Hoping to go next year again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fruit Basket

Today we had end of the year party at school, and I was assigned to bring fruit.
Since the other mothers were bringing ice cream, candy, whip cream, and chocolate, I really didn't think the fruit was going to be a big hit.
So I tried to make as attractive as I could, believing just a couple of kids would go for them.
So I first cut half of a watermelon, scoop inside wit a melon baller, and cut the edges with a knife. Then I cut a few strawberries in 4 (not all the way), and placed a green grape in the middle, to make a flower. The rest of strawberries were cut into quarters. And just fill the basket with grapes, watermelon balls, and strawberries.
I was so gladly surprised to see that all the kids were asking for the fruit with ice cream.
But then they were going for seconds, and the fruit was gone. Now I feel. bad.
Next time I will bring a bigger one.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Family history and stop motion animation.

My son started to have fun with stop motion animation, using his Legos . So I decided it would be a fun project for us to do together, telling our family history.
He took the frame by frame pictures in our old camera, then they were put together like a movie in the computer. He took the pictures with a green paper behind, so we could use as a green screen and add any image behind.
My other son made a few drawings to use as a background in the movie(some of them I lost during the process).
And I recorded their voices with the lines I wrote.
The hardest part was to put everything together. It took me about 6 months to learn and be able to edit the movie.
But in the end, it made us, and my entire family happy.
Here is how it came out:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dragon Green Tea Cake.

I have been a fan of a cake called Castella since I tasted from the Asian market. It is a sponge cake very popular in Japan that was brought by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
I really wanted to make a green tea flavored Castella, and I found a great recipe on Japanese Cooking 101. The only thing I realized is that there is no green tea in the recipe, so I adapted and added some green tea powder.
But searching for recipes, I found a beautiful decorated cake on Snapguide, and I really wanted to make a decoration too.
So I sort of combined these 2 awesome recipes to make what I wanted.
To make the decoration, I mixed the ingredients that Snapguide gave:
1 large egg white
30 grams of sugar
40 grams of flour
20 grams of unsalted butter(room temperature)

Mix everything well and place in a piping bag, with a round piping tip. Then start piping on parchment paper, placed on the bottom of your baking pan.
I used my dragon illustration to decorate, and wrote my last name in Japanese.
The pan with the decorated paper is placed on the refrigerator, while you make the cake.

Heat oven to 350 F I had all the ingredients out:
7 eggs (separated)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm milk
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cup cake flour (sifted)
2 tbp green tea powder

Whisk egg whites to a meringue consistency, add sugar gradually, then egg yolks.
Add warm milk mixed with the honey slowly, and last gently fold flour and green tea.
It becomes a thick and fluffy batter.
Pour slowly on top of your drawing, in the cake pan with parchment paper.
I used a rectangular pan 12X8in, and baked for 35 minutes or until is golden brown on top(it might be 40 depending on the oven).

One of the tips that Japanese cooking 101 gives, is to remove from the oven and "drop the pan from a height of about 5 inches, to release air and avoid collapsing". So I believed it and did it.
Then let it cool on top of another piece of parchment paper, upside down.
Remove the paper after completely cooled.
I previously ruined a cake by pulling when it was hot, AND placing directly on top of a cooling rack (without parchment paper). Take a look.

But this time I was patient and waited to cool off.
Something else that I realized just after pulling the paper, is that the drawing (and the writing), comes out in mirror image.
So I hope that my name that I wrote before, does not become a bad word on its opposite way.

But it tastes very good, anyway.