Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Disney Vacation

Every year we take a family vacation and with the girls, usually over summer break.  This year we took a week off and went to Disney World in Florida.  This trip makes it our third Disney vacation and I think we've finally seen most of the parks!  Last year, Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom was remodeled and new rides were added.  The girls have been wanting to back ever since.  In our prior trips we have only spent a day or two at the parks, this time, we decided to make the trip all about Disney. 

Lodging:  We stayed at the dolphin side of the Disney Swan and Dolphin resort.  The hotel was very nice and I had been there once before for a business trip so I knew it would be easy access to the parks.  The resort is on the Disney property and has boats and buses that take you to the parks.  We were walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood Studios but preferred to take the boat into Epcot most days.  The hotel is also next to Disney Boardwalk which has some neat shops and restaurants to eat at.  Our room was just ok.  It was all Michael Graves décor which was popular about a decade ago but felt dated now.

Parks:  We went to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. We did a 6 day park-hopper ticket that allowed to come and go to the parks as we wanted.  This was our first time doing Animal Kingdom and probably our least favorite.  Maybe it's because we have such a great zoo in Wichita or maybe it's because I'm a zoo snob, but we weren't that impressed.  We'd heard a lot about the safari ride and were really excited to do it. The animals were pretty far away and there wasn't anything that exotic that we hadn't seen before.  The best part was probably the safari jeeps we road around in.  Magic Kingdom was still a favorite and we spent our evenings there.  Fantasyland was indeed much better and lines were so much better at night.  Some rides we could do back to back if we really liked them.  Favorites were the Barnyard Stormer rollercoaster, Dumbo, Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, and Little Mermaid.  We made it to Hollywood Studios on Star Wars weekends so it was a bit nuts.  Josh was in heaven and got a bunch of geeky Star Wars stuff.  The girls really did get into it and really liked the Star Wars ride which they did like 4 or 5 times while we were there. Eopot was probably our favorite and we spent most of our time there.  We really enjoyed the World Showcase and visiting all the different countries.  We did quite a bit of eating and shopping here.

Dining:  We had some great meals and some not so great meals.  We did reservations in advance at several restaurants that we really wanted to go to.  We had German food at the Biergarten Restaurant, Chinese food at the Joy of Tea, Japanese at the Katsura Grill, French desserts at Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie and Italian at Via Napoli.  I think I enjoyed the Joy of Tea the most, strangely it was the cheapest and was a walk up stop. We did get Dole Whips at Animal Kingdom and they are just as good as people say and perfect for a hot day.  We also managed to venture out and eat at one of my favorite restaurants (for a chain), Bahama Breeze

Shopping:  We did get to do some fun shopping.  We went to several Sanrio Stores to fill up on Hello Kitty and friends.  The girls & I went a bit nuts. We hit up IKEA but only bought a few décor items this go around.  At Epcot Japan, we hit up Mitsukoshi which is a mall full of Japanese goods.  There was tons of Sanrio and San-X items.  Plenty of anime and manga; One Piece, Domo, Pokémon, Mario, etc.  Lots of Studio Ghibli items including a $55 stuffed Totoro that Penny insisted we get and whined for the entire trip.  We finally gave in.  There were also plenty of kitchen items (yay, more bento supplies), stationary, beauty products, home decorations as well.  Lastly, there was a huge area of Japanese snacks and candy.  We stocked up again.  No DIY kits but lots of gummies and hard candies.  There was a mall in Epcot China that we liked as well.  The girls found some panda stuff that was really cute.  We also discovered a new beverage, grape juice with pulp by Wei Chuan.  This stuff is seriously good.  Lots of grape pieces. 

The trip seemed to fly by very fast and I honestly wasn't feeling so great as I was still recovering from ear infections.  While it was a good time, I think we've had our fill of Disney for awhile.  Josh & I are planning to take a trip just the two of us this fall and I have to say, as exciting as the trip was, I'm looking forward to getting away and relaxing next time.  A beach, a margarita, and a cool breeze.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Poppin' Cookin' Afternoon

We've had a lot going on lately and haven't been doing a lot of projects at home.  This afternoon the girls and I took a timeout and sat down to do some DIY candy kits.

Poppin' Cookin' Takoyaki - This is a savory kit.  Takoyaki are round balls the consistency of a pancake with octopus tentacles baked in, coated in a sweet soy sauce and mayo. This kit is one of the new ones by Kracie and we were a bit hesitant but it was actually fine.  In general, a little octopus never scared us... in fact we like it.

The kit comes with a tray (I've cut it up into the 5 parts including a water cup), a mayo powder, takoyaki sauce powder, batter powder, octopus powder, a spoon for mixing, and a toothpick for turning over takoyaki balls.
First, you mix up the octopus powder with one cup of water.  You use the mold to make 8 tentacles. 
Next, you mix the batter powder with 2 cups of water and evenly distribute the batter into the takoyaki mold.  Add the tentacles to the top of the batter.  Microwave the takoyaki for approximately 30 seconds.  I closely watched these so they wouldn't burn.  They puffed up a lot.

Once they are done, you make the takoyaki sauce and mayo.  Takoyaki sauce powder is mixed with 1 cup of water until fully incorporated.  The mayo sauce powder is mixed within the mayo packet itself and also needs 1 cup of water.  Once the mayo is mixed, you fold the top down 3 times.  You are ready to flip the takoyaki over using the toothpick.  After you've flipped them over (tentacles are on the bottom) you are ready to add the takoyaki sauce and mayo.  Spread the takoyaki sauce using the spoon and cut a corner of the mayo packet to the squeeze the mayo onto the top. 
Overall, these aren't bad.  People have compared the taste to a hotdog with a creamy, sweet sauce.  I'd agree.  This kit took about half an hour and was one of the more entertaining kits to do.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Labor Day


While recovering from another round of the crud ( double ear infections + throat infection woo-hoo) I rented the film Labor Day staring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin (you know the older brother, Brand, from The Goonies).  I had wanted to see this film while it was in theaters but my husband doesn't have quite the enthusiasm for depressed yet romantic movies.  Labor Day is based on the novel by Joyce Maynard.  I've read a couple of Maynard's books and really enjoy her writing.  The fact that she had an affair with JD Salinger decades ago makes her even more interesting to me( I have a serious love for JD Salinger).

Labor Day feels like something exotic that you discover in your own home.  Those days when you are at home, deliberately, trying a new recipe, starting a new book that has been on your shelves for years, sitting in your sunny backyard, listening the trees rustle and watching the sunlight flicker through the limbs.  It feels like your on vacation but in your own home.  Frank is an escaped convict who hides out for Labor Day weekend in Adele's home. Adele and her son are living a depressed life full of the mundane or less.  Frank awakens their lives by showing them how to live again, within their own lives over the holiday weekend. There is a love story that develops between Adele and Frank but the biggest love story is how this family started to fall in love with living again.  Fixing things with their own hands, making a pie from scratch, learning to play baseball in the backyard. It sounds so simple but to those who only live in a shell of their lives, it was fresh and new.

To some degree, I could relate to these feelings that Adele had.  She, depressed from a broken marriage, lived with the confines of a few small places -- a monthly trip to the store, the permanent spot on the couch, within her own head.  She was merely existing, a prisoner in her own life.  Isn't that how life becomes when you allow yourself to get caught up in the ego, commercialism, Corporate America, keeping up with the Joneses.  It has for me several times in my life.  This was a good reminder to live.

Labor Day is slow.  Deliberate.  Fantastic.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Birthday Haul

My birthday was a few days ago and I celebrated it with my husband, daughters, and mom.  We went to Bonefish Grill and I got my fill of bang-bang shrimp. I wish I could say it was a great day but work managed to crap all over it earlier in the day so I tried to make the best of things.  That's another post for another day. Suffice to say, my job craps over my life quite a bit these days.

I've been meaning to share my birthday surprises from my husband and daughters.  My family is supportive of my kawaii addiction and bought me several kawaii gifts. 

First, were 2 mini putty erasers, Tuxedo Sam (lemon scented) and Hello Kitty (peach scented).  These things smell like my childhood.  They were silly little add-ins that my girls picked out but the moment I opened them, I went back in time when Santa stuffed my stocking full of Sanrio surprises; mini pencils, erasers, and clips.  My stocking was my favorite part of opening presents each year!

My oldest got m a Hello Kitty Ugly Doll plush.  I also have a love of ugly dolls.  I only have one that sits on my bookshelf so now he's got a neighbor. 

My youngest got me a Hello Kitty Nanoblock kit.  I recently discovered these at Imagine That Toys and I can't wait to assemble it. 

My big present was from my husband, a Hello Kitty Fuji Instax camera with 3 boxes of film (Twin Little Stars, my fav!, Rilakkuma, and Hello Kitty).  I'm sure I'll fly through the film but I can't wait to take some pics.  It's funny as I am still considering opening a Kawaii store, Instax cameras were recently added to my list of items I'd want to sell.  Now I have one all for myself!  Of course, I'm sure my girls will try to steal it at the first opportunity. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Grandma came over to visit tonight and hang out with the girls and watch Frozen.  It gave me some free time to draw and watch a movie on my own.  I did a little drawing but was pretty entranced with my movie selection for the evening. 

Adore is an indie film directed by Anne Fontaine and based on the novel by Doris Lessing. Two neighbor best friends, played by Robin Wright and Naomi Watts, live in remote location in Australia surrounded by stunning turquoise beaches. The women  do most things in life together including having two sons who are the same age and are quite good friends as well.  As the boys get older, they become attractive young men that the women describe in one scene as "like young gods." As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that the men have started to desire the other's mother and those feelings are reciprocated by the women.  There is a taboo relationship that begins to form between the four as each woman has been a mother figure to the other's son and the age difference is at least twenty years between the men and women.  The women, surrounded by the Utopian scenery, make smile lines and beach hair even seem attractive. The complex, provocative relationships and excellent acting had me completely wrapped up in the story; I never wanted it to end.  There is also something about cinematography that use subdued colors with a breezy, soft linen feel that I just can't get enough of.

The film isn't for everyone.  I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed films such as Laurel Canyon, The Good Girl, or American Beauty.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hello Kitty Cafe

Hello Kitty Café - Yes, please.

Character Cafe

Character Cafes in Tokyo:

I need these in my life.

A few new books and italian ice

As I mentioned in my previous post, my creative energy is working overtime these days.  As spring has arrived in the Midwest, I find myself wanting to draw the delicate petals of daffodils, pear tree blossoms, and happy plotted succulents.  Saturday was a beautiful day for being outside and I was hoping to get to sit on our deck and draw but it never worked out.  Mostly, our deck is a wreck since winter ands needs to be cleaned and spruced up.  I'd love to get some new furniture and to fill my empty pots as well. Perhaps another day. Sounds like a good excuse for a vacation day!

I did manage to get some great new books this weekend that I thought I would share:

I have done Lisa Congdon's line drawing series over at Creative Bug the last few weeks and when I found out she authored one of the 20 Ways to Draw books, I knew I would have to get it.  This 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip book is full of interesting ways to draw flowers and plants using very simple lines.  I love the simplicity in her work.  Maybe I just love simplicity.
I'd been wanting a Zentangle book as I tend to do a lot of doodling while on conference calls at work.  Zen Doodle is a great compilation of the different tangled designs that you could make.  There is a lot of good information about how to start a tangle, plotting out the shape, different patterns that can be used.  I've not looked at this one as much but am excited to get started.
Our weekend was capped off by a trip to Rita's Italian Ice.  Over a decade ago, I lived in Jacksonville, FL for several years.  Rita's was a stand on the beach that you could walk up to and get Italian ice's and custard; perfect after a day swimming in the hot sun.  My favorite has always been the gelati; a gelati is Italian ice in the bottom and custard on the top.  When I learned that Wichita was getting a Rita's and right around the corner from my house, I couldn't help but be excited.  Rita's is just as a good as I remembered and I'm sure they will come to know the faces of my family in the coming summer.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Mojo (noun): a magic charm, talisman, or spell.

A drawing I did this morning in marker.

Since my dad past away in 2010 things just haven't been the same.  I don't mean specifically his presence is just gone and things aren't the same (although that is certainly significant) but I mean how it has impacted me and the way I cope with life.  Or actually fail to cope.  Don't get me wrong, I've been getting by, but that's about it.  It's almost felt like I've been going through the motions of the things I'm supposed to do but am not actually connected to the things I want to do, things that are me.  It's been evident in the simplest of things: what I talk about, how I dress, how I spend my free time.

 Since Nov 2013, things have been changing.  I've been doing more than coping.  I've been starting to live my life again. 

I realized today, I am a different person than I was 6 months ago. 

I am thriving creatively.  I've done more creative projects since the beginning of 2014 than I've done in the last 3 years.  I've written things down and started taking pictures again. I am not as short with my family or as worried about life.  And I find myself craving time with friends again.

Work is starting to fade away.  Don't get me wrong, it's still crazy and unrealistic in regards to expectations, but now, it's become just a job.

I remember going through my divorce in 2005 and overcoming years and years of depression.  One thought that got me over my slump was owning my misery.  Taking full responsibility for my happiness and my misery.  Sure I had a few rocks thrown at me but it was how I chose to deal with those situations that I owned.  And I got better.  I got significantly better.  So much better that people sought me out.  I firmly believe that when people are being true to themselves, they become more attractive to others.

I haven't dealt with my loss very well.  I haven't dealt with the fall of the economy very well. And I think I'm about over it.  I think I'm ready to be accountable for my own happiness and am relieved to be getting my mojo back.

Thursday, March 27, 2014



1. Going on day 3 of no voice due to dreadful Kansas allergies.
2. Allowing my sweet pup to lay in bed with me because sometimes I just need to cuddle my dog.
3. Sad that WSU basketball is over for the season.  It was fun while it lasted.
4. Needing to buy a new car but so not into car shopping.
5. Working on building my online store when I have time. And trying to find suppliers - how could it be THAT hard?!?!
6. Playing with my new bamboo drawing tablet and pretending I'm an artist.
7. Needing to book our family vacation but struggling to commit to Disney World (again) or come up with something better.
8. Saw the movie, Divergent - surprisingly good as the book.
9. In need of a haircut and brow wax... badly.
10. Wanting to make my own Boba Tea.  Even with all the ingredients at home, still not motivated enough to spend the time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Side Business

I've been a bit hesitant to post about this topic, because well, I have a lot of side business ideas, even full business ideas, that never happen. I mean for them to take off but I get distracted.  I'm often like an ADD kid in a toy store.   Since this last December, I have been toying around with the idea of starting a Kawaii store -- both online and at a physical location in Wichita.  To open a physical store is quite a big leap and requires leaving my job, making myself 100% committed towards building the best business that I can.  And to be honest, I don't even know if people in Wichita would really shop at a Kawaii store.  It's one thing for the girls and I to be into all of this, but would other people in Wichita be as interested?  So before I take any drastic steps, I have been taking a series of baby steps towards the goal of a store.

My work thus far has been focused on where I can purchase from wholesale and determining what kinds of products I would want to carry.  As you've probably noticed, my girls and I are a little nuts about Japanese candy... so that's a given.  Japanese snacks are included as well.  Next is Sanrio and San-X products including stationary, bento supplies, plushes, squishies, etc.  There are some other licensed products I am still exploring including some of the Manga and Anime stuff as I think that could draw in more business as well.

The next step that I am moving towards is the online store.  It has smaller risk and I can run it while still working full time.  One of the concepts of the online store is the idea of a Kawaii gift basket. I think a gift basket full of Hello Kitty and Japanese candy is just the kind of present I would love to receive (Valentine's Day - heck yes, Birthday - uh-huh, Christmas - wouldn't complain at all), but would other people?  I am testing the waters with the basket idea as I think this is something I can build online, which would be the next small step forward.  I have just ordered the products for a first basket and am probably going to do an Ebay sale on the first basket to see what kind of interest I get. I've sold quite a bit on Ebay in the past so it would be an easy place to start.  The targeted customer base would be US customers as most of the products I would sell are not easily found in the states and thus more desirable.  

In the next few weeks I should have an update on the basket and a link for those of you that may be interested.  It will be full of Japanese candy and have a Rilakkuma theme.  Rilakkuma is a teddy bear character by San-X shown above and very, very popular in Japan.

So fingers crossed that I'm able to keep the momentum and others will find value in what I'm selling.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


In my pursuit to get back into hobbies and crafts, I have recently started drawing again.  For Valentine's Day I bought my daughter a "how-to" drawing book called I Love Drawing Moshi Monsters and have been helping her learn to draw.  She's really into Kawaii art (Moshi Monsters is a DS game she plays often with a Kawaii look) and asks me to draw her things all the time.  I started thinking about how I used to like to draw and have been getting back into it myself.  I've never been one of the those people who could draw a mural or a portrait, but I was always pretty good at doing abstract line art. 

I like the Finish-style line art that I sometimes find on tea towels and note books.  It reminds me of what happens when you start doodling and it turns into something special.  I'm also a huge fan of silhouette paper cutting which I'll save for another post.  While researching an artist that I do like, Lisa Congdon, I found that this month she was teaching an online class through Creativebug.  Creativebug is a subscription ($9.95/month) site that has how-to videos for all kinds of crafts.  I signed up for month of March so I could take her class and did the first one today.  I attempted to replicate a drawing that she did in the class and think it turned out pretty well - what do you think?

This next drawing is a work in progress.  It is a series of doodles that have gone wild and turned into a jungle of twisted shapes.  I haven't decided what I'll do with this but it was fun to draw either way. 

Lisa Congdon has her own Etsy shop where you can purchase things with her art designs.  She's also written and collaborated on several artsy books including 20 Ways to Draw a Tulip, Just Add Color: Botanicals, and Art Inc.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cozy Weekend

By the time March rolls around, I'm over winter in Kansas.  Don't get me wrong, I love snowy days and being stuck inside; I'd just prefer to do it in December, January, and February.  Wichita was hit with blistery cold temperatures, freezing rain, and snow over the weekend.  We did our errand running early and then made it home just as the roads started getting slick.  Since we were stuck inside we were able to spend our time crafting, watching movies, and cooking comfort food. 

I finished another hat on my knitting loom.  This one was made with a multi-color yarn consisting of pink, gray, black, and white.  Tori has already claimed it as her own.
I did pick up some new colors to do a nautical gray and white hat (for me), black and yellow to do a WSU hat (for my cousin), and orange and blue to do a Broncos hat (for Josh).  I'll be trying a finished edge to the WSU and Broncos hat since they are for the guys.  I've started on my own hat but am not sure that I'm happy with the yarn I selected.
The girls did their Moko Moko toilet candy that we ordered from Japan.  They have been asking for this one for awhile and I've held off because... well it's toilet candy!  Eventually I gave in.  The kit was pretty straight forward.
Moko Moko Toilet Candy

Pop out the toilet parts, that's a toilet tank on the right.

Snap together the toilet and decorate with stickets.  2 power flavors, cola and ramune flavors.

Add the power to the toilet tank and put 2 scoops of water using the toilet tank lid to measure. 
The contents begin to foam in the toilet bowl.  Use your spoon to suck up the flavored foam.
The girls had fun with the assembly and decorating process but the candy wasn't edible. Both flavors were very strong and the girls couldn't eat it.  They said it reminded them of cough syrup, and in fact, cough syrup tastes better.  They've both decided that they'd like to keep their toilets and make them into mini planters.  At the very least, they can add them as fixtures in their doll house.
I watched Stuck, a documentary about the challenges of international adoption.  I always thought that I would adopt a child at some point in my life and the discussion isn't off the table.  This was a good documentary but incredibly emotional.  I sobbed at several different moments.  The thought of children being kept from happy homes because of government bureaucracy is so sad.  And to be honest, the families that experienced the challenges covered in this film seem stronger than I think I could ever be.  If you've ever considered international adoption, I suggest checking this film out.
We did a good amount of cooking this weekend.  We had cinnamon apple muffins for breakfast on Saturday, Josh's homemade philly cheesteaks (so so good) Sat evening, and homemade lasagna for Sunday dinner.  It was a comfort food weekend.
I ordered a few new books and movies from Amazon that should be coming this week so I'll have some reviews shortly.  We're starting next week off with a snow day, hope you're staying warm!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bates Motel

A couple of weeks ago, while down with the flu, I was able to get into a new A&E series that I received from my husband for Christmas, Bates Motel.  Bates Motel is a modern day prequel to the classic horror film, Psycho.  Norman Bates, played Freddie Highmore, is an awkward teenage boy who seems fairly normal at first; wants to date, reads comics, enjoys writing.  He also really, really aims to always please his mother, Norma.  Norma, played by Vera Farmiga, is a strong, possessive mother who doesn't want her son to grow up and understands that there are some things that just aren't quite right about Norman. The relationship between mother and son gets weirder as things move along.

I really enjoyed the first season and am looking forward to season two. It's obvious that the writers took a lot of liberty with the story and weren't overly concerned with matching the series to the Psycho film exactly.  In fact, the modern day setting works quite well.  The cinematography and style of the series gives off a vintage-like vibe which I really like. The opening scenes led me to believe the series was going to be set in the 60's and it wasn't until I noticed teenage girls driving convertibles and talking on cell phones that I realized it was set modern day.  The series is dark and creepy and I love it.  Season 1 is also now streaming on Netflix.  Season 2 starts on March 3.  Can't wait!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oyatsu Box

I admit it.  I like getting presents in the mail.  Over the last 2 years, I've done a few box subscription services including Birch Box, Ipsy Bag, Goodies Box, and most recently Oyatsu Box.  I highly recommend Ipsy Bag but will save my review of them for another post.

Oyatsu Box is a monthly subscription service full of snacks all the way from Japan.   It is pricier than most at $25 per month (includes shipping).  I was a bit hesitant to pay that much but after my first box, I've found it well worth the money.  What is nice about Oyatsu Box is that they send you a description of each product on a one page print out that is written in English.

In my first box I received:
1) Dagashi Super Pack - This is really neat.  The pack is Doraemon themed and contains 10 kinds of candy.  Dagashi is classic Japanese snacks which I think of as similar to American penny candy.
2) Pokémon White Chocolate Puffs
3) Big Black Thunder - some sort of chocolate bar
4) Big Katsu - this is a little scary, something like a breadcrumb coated jerky stick... the husband will probably enjoy it.
5) Black Black Mints - something like a caffeinated altoid
6) Pocky Peach - love pocky so these should be good
7) Hi-Chew Pineapple - kind of like a bold starburst
8) Look Sparkling Lemonade Chocolate - not sure how I feel about chocolate and lemonade
9) Russian Roulette Gum - 3 pieces of tricky gum, two sweet and one insanely sour
10) One Piece Gum & Poster - Based on the One Piece Anime series. 
11) Kit Kat Strawberry - I've tried these before and super yummy
Overall, really impressed and the girls and I will surely have fun trying out new snacks. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Knitting Looms

While at our local craft store, Hobby Lobby, this weekend the girls and I picked up a pack of knitting looms.  I've never learned to knit but have done crochet for years.  I had heard that knitting looms were good for kids to learn on and also thought it would be a fun activity for us to do together.  It was timely as later in the day, Penny came down with a stomach bug and had just enough energy to do the loom while laying on the couch and watching the Olympics. 

My first project was a hat.  The girls are working on hats too; smaller versions for their American Girl dolls.  Our supplies included a knitting loom, a loom pick, and cheapo acrylic yarn I had on hand.

The process to get the yarn started on the loom is very simple.  Both girls were able to start their own after I secured the slip knot.

The loom really helps with even consistent stitches.  This is what the inside of the hat looks like at about the half-way point.  Side note: Penny has started reading Charlotte's Web on her own.  She loves pigs and I hope she isn't traumatized by the ending.

This is my sicky girl wearing the hat I finished today.  It has an unfinished band and took about 4 hours to complete.  I'll probably start another one for another kid this evening as it is very relaxing to do in front of the tv and I can easily pick it up and  put it down. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Happy Kitchen, Popin' Cookin - Hamburger

This last Christmas my niece, Caitlyn, introduced the girls and I to the fantastic world of Japanese DIY candy. At the top of her Christmas List was something called Popin' Cookin. Since I am the favorite aunt I had to deliver.  I began my search to find out what this Popin' Cookin thing was. I quickly found myself trapped on YouTube watching Popin' Cookin' videos and trying to figure out how I could get a shipment of candy from Japan before Christmas! 

Popin' Cookin is made by the company called Kracie.  The concept is that you not only eat the candy, you make it.  It's a bit like some of the Cra-Z-Cookin toy kits that are popular with young girls in the US.  The difference is that Popin' Cookin doesn't require an Easy Bake Oven or special gadget except a microwave on occasion. The kits come with a plastic tray, mixing spoon, and a series of powder packets that are mixed with water.  Directions are written in Japanese but include pictures which makes it fairly easy to follow if you don't know Japanese.  If in doubt, you can always find a YouTube video to guide you through as well.   Popin' Cookin comes in a variety of kits including Cake, Donuts, Hamburgers, Sushi, Bento Box, etc. 

The girls and I ordered a large lot of the kits from Japan (along with Caitlyn's collection for Christmas!) and have been slowly working our way through them.  This last weekend I tried out the Hamburger kit.

The Hamburger kit is the first savory kit that I've tried and wasn't really expecting it.  Most kits are candy versions of the food, i.e. candy sushi.  In the Hamburger kit you make 2 cheeseburgers, a soda, a packet of french fries and ketchup for dipping.  It does require that you "cook" the bun and hamburger in the microwave.  Although it was a savory kit, it really was pretty edible and a lot of fun to make because of the variety of components.  The french fries looked very much like fast food fries.  The soda bubbled like it was carbonated and the cheeseburgers had authentic looking cheese, buns, and hamburger patties.  It's amazing that it all came from packets of powders.
Since the holidays, I've learned so much more about Japanese candy and snacks. There are several other brands that we plan to try out.  I'll be posting follow up reviews on the kits as we work our way through them. If you are interested in watching some Popin' Cookin videos, I highly recommend the emmymadeinjapan channel.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


As I was looking around my office, I came across the lot of books I got for Christmas from my family. I tend to ask mostly for cooking and craft books each year so I've got quite the collection built up.  I always have good intentions of starting projects or making yummy dishes but in reality, I usually do very little with the books that I receive due to being too exhausted from work.

I'd like to change that this year. Here are the lovelies waiting on me:

Paper to Petal is a book that shows you how to make beautiful paper flowers with various paper mediums.  I think it would be so neat to make a paper bouquet for the formal dining room as well as flowers that can be used to decorate wrapped gifts.
A few years ago I had the girls silhouettes done at Disney World.  I was fascinated by how quickly the artist moved as he clipped the intricate details of their impish grins and whispy fly away tendrils.  The silhouettes were so good and I thought it would be neat to learn how to do paper cutting.  Creative Paper Cutting is a beginner's paper cutting instructional that teaches the basics of creating designs that can be used as wall art and cards.
 I have a real love for woodland critters.  If the animal happens to be dressed in a dapper outfit, even more adorable.  Mollie Makes Woodland Critters is part of series of craft books by the craft magazine, Mollie Makes.  Over the last few years the most crafting I have done has been in the form of crochet and felting.  Given the choice, I felt or crochet dapper animals.  I'm looking forward to diving into a few of these projects.

The Tupelo Honey Café is a restaurant in Asheville, NC that is famous for southern cooking with a flair.  I've never been to Asheville but it on my list to do some day.  The Tupelo Honey Café cookbook is full of awesome dishes that I would love to master. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I've been home sick the last several days recovering from the flu that has plagued the country. In my search across daytime television, I came across the documentary called First Comes Love on HBO. Nina Davenport is an Indie Filmmaker who at the age of 41 has yet to find the right partner in life to settle down and start a family with. She makes the decision to get pregnant on her own with the help of friends, including one who donates the sperm and another who acts as her birthing partner and main support throughout her pregnancy. The film wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be but actually tapped into something that was very relevant in my life.  Throughout the film, Nina continually looked to others for validation of her life choices including the big one, parenthood.  Throughout the film she records several conversations with her father over his continuous disapproval for how she lives her life and over her decision to get pregnant.  After her son is born, there is a scene where she is outside and her son is playing in the grass. I believe she has a bit of revelation as she watches her son play and says something like, "At some point, I am the mother, the one who is responsible for my actions."  It appears that she realizes that she doesn't need anyone's approval to do what she feels is right for her life. 

This hit me hard.

I feel like at the age of 36, I would be past this very thing myself, but I'm not.  Sometimes I feel like I just play "grownup" but in reality, I'm still just a child who will make bad decisions unless discussed and ruminated on for days.  And then I thought about my current situation.

I was sick at home feeling guilty for days for not being at work.  I am the best person to say what my body can and can't handle.  Why would I need to feel guilty or like a slacker for taking the time I need to get better?  I don't.  I am also an adult and am accountable to the decisions I make. I am not out to impress the world or live to please others. 

I am here for me.  And my family and friends. 

And the stress started to fade away. I don't have to be insanely good at my job.  I don't have to be the best at everything, including the things I really don't care about.  I just have to be what I want me to be.  And I am enough.

I can also be a child at heart and still be a grownup. I so often deny myself the things that are me that I miss out on the things that I love. 

I've returned back to the blog in hopes to help me be accountable to me and who I want to be.  I hope to be blogging more and sharing with you who I truly am.