Made by hands, expressed from the heart.

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.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dragon Kimono.

Our elementary school has an International Day every year, and the kids bring a international dish for everyone to try.
Since there is another kid in class who will bring a Brazilian dish, my son decided to represent his Japanese heritage.
The school also asked if they can be dressed as the country they represent. And that is why I made this kimono. Lucky me there was a nice leftover piece of black fabric(from the dress I made), and it was just big enough for what I needed.
I used his karate kimono to take a pattern.

And here sewing the pieces after cutting the fabric.
The kimono was ready and now I could paint.

He chose a dragon that I had on my pajamas from Target. So I copied the drawing in pencil, and reinforced with a black marker.
The next step was to transfer he drawing into freezer paper, shiny side down (very important).
After the picture is all done, I cut all the details with a Xacto knife.
And carefully cutting all the pieces.
Until it is all done.
With this pattern ready, the scariest part was next.
So this is how I got ready for painting.
First placing the area to be painted in a soft base. I put the seat from the couch on top of the table. Then the back of the kimono facing up.
After finding a ideal spot to paint the dragon, I placed the freezer paper, shiny side down..
Then using a iron, with a low heat set, I pressed the paper so it becomes "glued" to the fabric.
After I prepared my silk screen, which is a embroidery hoop, with a piece of sheer silk.
Then with the hoop firmly pressed to the paper (see how I also used a heavy book to help me hold the hoop), I started the painting process.
I used a rubber spatula to spread the paint in the entire area (I had to repeat this process a few times).
And finally I could peel off the freezer paper. It dried nicely. And it fits well.