Made by hands, expressed from the heart.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Taiko, a new horizon.

It has been a little more than a year that I quit my career of 20 years in the Veterinary field, to spend more time with my family, and further utilize my creative side of the brain.
And one of the things we have been wanting to do was to learn Taiko. We were lucky enough to find a place here in Long island, Ryu Shu Kan. And the whole family (of 4 people) started taking classes.
And I could never imagine this decision would make me experience a whole new dimension to my existence.
Besides meeting so many great people, and learning music for the first time, I learn more and more about the culture and costumes of my parents and their ancestors. My father left Japan when he was 6 years old when his parents decided to live in Brazil, my mom was the daughter of Japanese immigrants in Brazil, and never had a chance to go to Japan. I grew up in Brazil and never been in Japan, so I never quite understood why I was raised so different than the other kids.
Now that I know a little more about the culture, it makes more sense the way me and my siblings grew up. And now that I don't have my parents to answer my questions, I have great interest to learn more about Japan, hoping one day me and my family can go for a visit.
We became so captivated by the art, the music, that me and my husband are learning Japanese, and he decided to make a real Taiko in the backyard, so we can practice at home.
But then we wanted a small version, a tiny Taiko to carry around, but I was Googling all over and could only find it on wholesale, from China. Another alternative was to go buy in Japan. Since we don't know when we will be able to go there, we decided to make ourselves.
It took a long time for us to figure out how to make it looking like the real one, and after a few months and a lot of failed trails, we came up with the technique I will show now.
Starting with the body, they sell tiny barrels at the craft store, but they never the right shape. So my husband, more familiar with power tools, used a cylindrical piece of wood and showed me how to use a drill to get the shape we wanted.
Next the pieces are painted with coating. While drying, I made the bachis, cutting a long piece of wood stick to the appropriate size. Then drilling a hole in the middle.
And sanding both sides to take the edges out, making smoother and more realistic.
After that, a piece of jewelery metal is attached with hot glue gun.
The trickiest part was to make what is originally made from cow's skin. After many ugly attempts, my husband ended up making a 3D model in computer, and had it especially made in a 3D printer. With that piece we made a mold, and use that to make the pieces in polymer clay. After sanded and cleaned, the two parts are glued to the wood piece. And final jewelry applied to our little Taiko.
After the rope is attached, it is all ready to go.
These three are packaged to go to a fellow Taiko player in Arizona.
I hope he likes them. With every piece I make, I feel closer to the culture and the Country my family came from. And one day I will see for myself.
Here is the link to my store to find one: Etsy I Made for you.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Saint Patrick's Day is a few days away, but since everyone is celebrating for the whole month, I decided to make something for the kids this weekend. We wanted to have a simple white cake, and I used this recipe for a Sponge Cake called Castella cake.
The frosting was whipped heavy cream, with a little bit of sugar, and a lot of strawberries on top.
I went to the crafte store, and the only decorations left for the occasion was napkins, straws and little coins. So I decided to draw some decorations myself.
I then colored in the computer, and printed. I had some glitter glue, and used to make the golden parts shinier.
To print your Saint Patrick's Day decoration just click here: Saint Patrick's decoration.
So I made a banner for the cake.
Some flags for the straws. A sign to place on the table.
For this I used my big flower puncher, using a green Christmas paper.
There is always a reason to make a little happier, a little more colorful, and show that you care.
Happy Luck of the Irish!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dog and Cat Bread.

Social media is a wonderful place to get ideas, and hear suggestions, from anywhere in the world. And I love when my friends send me ideas.
Yesterday my aunt from Portugal saw this cute picture of a bread in the shape of a dog, and she mentioned I should make them.
Here in my house we have been making bread almost in a daily basis, and this morning I decided to give it a try.
Since we purchased the bread machine, we don't buy bread anymore, that is why we have to make so much. My husband came up with a saving time technique, and he pre- packs all the dry ingredients.
Inside each brown bag has:
-3 1/4 cups of flour
-2 Tbp of sugar
-1 1/2 Tsp of salt
It doesn't look like a lot of saving time, but I like the idea of making this messy process just once a week. One bag of bread flour is enough to make eight recipes.
When we want to make more bread, we just place the wet ingredients in the machine's container:
-1 cup + 3 Tbp of water
-2 Tbp of oil

Then dump the contents of one bag, place one tablespoon each of Chia Seeds and Flax Seed (milled),
-plus 1 Tbp of Yeast (for machine)

Then I turn on the machine and I have 1 1/2 hours to do other things, and the machine kneads, maintain the correct temperature, and leaves for right time.

When the dough was ready, I had pieces of chocolate, cut up apples, beans from a can, and cut up olives (in triangles), for eyes and noses.
I divided the dough in 8 relatively equal pieces.
Then I modeled as best as I could dog and kitty faces, using beans for eyes and olives for noses, apple for smiles.
And they were baked for 20 minutes in the toaster oven.
To make the bones for the dogs, I cut hot dogs with a knife, to try the shape of the bones. And same thing with cheese to shape a fish bone.
After cool, I cut a mouth to stick one hot dog in each side.

Some of the beans dried up after baking, so I had to replace them with other beans from the can.
The cats I stuck pieces of cheese, to look like fish bone.
It is not everyday that I shape the bread like animals, so the process is quicker.
And the bread is fluffy, very tasty, and even my picky eater eats them.
And I really love make cute creatures.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Women's Day.

The International Women's Day is March 8. In a house where the only females are the dog, the cat, and me, I wasn't really sure how to celebrate this date.

But then, I realized this could be an advantage. The boys are small enough to listen to everything I say, so maybe an afternoon of treats and women's history could be interesting.
I didn't want to bore them, and show statistics about women's rights. So I made little signs to remind why there is a Women's Day, and placed on food.
I had fresh bread that my husband just made, and served little sandwiches.
When they asked what those meant, I explained:
A lot of Countries don't allow girls to go to school.
. Women didn't have voting rights until the early 1900's in the US.
. Women couldn't work, or become professionals.
Those signs made them ask questions, and it gave me a chance to bring up why women weren't(or some places still aren't) treated as equals. Those are discussions hard to bring up out of the blue, so they helped me start a little conversation.
I even had a chance to make a little tribute to one of my favorite women in science, Marie Curie. I was able to tell them she was a scientist, a chemist and a physicist, and her work helped discoveries on radiation (I used the word X-Rays to make more exciting).
This was just an attempt to show them how women are important, historically.
In the end I could talk more openly, and bring up these little messages for them.
Respect girls.
Listen to what they say.
Ask for their opinion.
I don't know how long these principles are staying in their memory. But it was just a little seed to, hopefully, help them grow up to be responsible, respectful and conscious citizens.
And guys who respect women.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Piggy Hot Dog Bread

This time I decided to try to make bread in a different shape. I saw a picture of a hot dog shaped like a pig, so I wanted to see if it would work for me.
I first made my bread dough in the bread machine. I used this recipe , but added a tablespoon of flax seed and chia seeds. While the machine was kneading, I cut up some hot dogs and made the noses. I made the nostrils using a straw, pinching the back of the straw when pulling back.
When the dough was ready, I used it to cover the hot dogs.
To make the eyes, I cut olives using the straw.
After placing the eyes, I used little triangles of the dough to make the ears.
After baked for 25 minutes, they were fully cooked, but still a little pale (I think because I placed them on the lower part of the oven.
Some of them looked more like birds (I think). But they tasted very good and crunchy.
I toasted a couple of them to brown the top.
They don't all look perfect, but they made a happy dinner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pi Day T-Shirt.

I learned today that March 13 is Pi Day (the number Pi 3.1415- and that is all I remember).
The school asked to send the children with T-shirts with a number. Since we couldn't find any of this item, I started to wonder if I could make one myself.
So then researching on techniques to print fabric at home, I discovered something new, and awesome. On the blog Make It- Love It, I learned that freezer paper is ideal to make a stencil for printing a T- shirt, because when ironed, the freezer paper will stick to fabric.
This was something I had never seen before, so I couldn't wait to try.
We first chose a design for each T- shirt, and drew in paper, then copied in the freezer paper (waxy side down).

Next I carefully cut the shape with my exacto knife.
Next I ironed the freezer paper to the area I needed the illustration on the fabric.
Then I used the painting tools: fabric paint, a sheer fabric, a embroidery hoop, and a spatula.
After placing the sheer fabric on the hoop, they serve as a silk screen. So using a small amount of paint, I used the spatula to go across the screen, on top of the stencil.

To make different colors, I had to change the fabric.
Then after peeling the paper, the area painted will show (you can see I did a oopsie on the bottom with the blue paint).
After the paint was dry, I used the fabric pencils to add details, and also to cover up the blurry paint.
And made the second T-shirt. Notice that since I didn't have any yellow paint, I used the pen to make the pie. So the color is not as bright as when applied with the screen technique.
They don't look perfect, but not so bad for the first time. And that will do it to use it in school.
They approved it.