Saturday, December 22, 2007

I really like sushi. At least I like "American" sushi. You know, things like Tuna Rolls and California Rolls or whatever. With a little wasabi - just enough for some bite but not enough to clear your sinuses - it's great.

I've been to Japan twice on business. Let me start by telling you, sushi in Japan is not the same as sushi in America. Inocuous-looking nigiri can end up coating your mouth with an amazing slimey-smooth mouthfeel that you've never experienced before-- and that lasts for way, way too long.

You end up eat stuff that you've never had before and you have no idea what it is. Unless you're in a restaurant sitting next to a Japanese techie- geek who knows no English but does have a Japanese-English electronic translator, like I did once.

What an opportunity to satisfy my morbid curiosity! I picked up each piece of food with my chopsticks and asked him what it was. Some were somewhat familiar. Some didn't translate well into English. Others were rather, shall we say...interesting. For example, a round grey blob turned out to be octopus brain with octopus eggs. Whether it was really octopus brain or whether these cephalopods really stored their eggs in their heads didn't really matter. Whatever it really was, it was probably something I didn't want to attempt to chew. I deftly placed that morsel to the side of my plate.

Of course that didn't stop me from waiting until one of my American colleagues was chewing on the grey blog to announce what it was.

You know, I just live for moments like that.

Anyway, I'm rambling. (Note the name of this blog.) What I really meant to talk about was faux sushi. For some reason, sushi seems to be a great thing to replicate in various (inedible) forms. I don't know why this is, but it's pretty amusing.

You may have seen sushi replicated in plastic. (Or not.) I've seen plastic sushi replicants used as refrigerator magnets (because everyone needs plastic sushi on their refrigerators), earrings, and bracelets. However, some people go beyond plastic or polymer clay

Yarnbeast ( has reinterpreted the plastic sushi magnet using her own personal artistic medium, yarn. I would never have guessed that you could knit sushi:

Her description reads:

"5 piece sushi magnet set served on a decorative plate with bonus wasabi, chop sticks and pickled ginger magnets. The set is wrapped in green plastic wrap and a perfect gift for any sushi lover! The pieces are 2 avacado and cucumber rolls, one California roll, one crab sushi and one salmon roe roll. "

For those who like a Japanese theme in their furnishings, what could be more fun than having your own oversized shrimp nigiri pillow?

This is brought to you by The Original Sushi Pillow (tm) ( The shrimp pattern is handpainted onto a cotton/polyester mix and a subtle rice pattern can be found on the cotton rice pillow. Black/green crinkle taffeta imitates the nori wrap perfectly!

While this isn't sushi, edamame is a wonderful accompament to sushi, and looks really cute as a pillow too. It measures about 36" long and 8" wide, so it could be used for a sofa or bed pillow, and is made with fiberfill. (Sorry, there are no removable beans.)

Oh, one last note. The Japanese also like salad. But you need to be wary if your salad has little crunchy bits on top that resemble Durkee's Fried Onions. Look closely, because each tiny cruchy bit may have two teeny tiny eyes staring back at you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fairy doors are popping up around Ann Arbor, Michigan. No one knows who's building them. They just mysteriously appear. The entryways are Thumbelina small and are so subtle and incongruent that they're easy to overlook -- or dismiss. At first glance, you might mistake one for an electric socket or a mismatched brick. But look closely and you'll see evidence that, yes indeed, something very little could be living there. Are they appearing there because they're being displaced from their rural homes by urban sprawl? Perhaps.

Here's only one of the examples of Fairy Doors in Ann Arbor. It can be found at the Sweetwater Coffe Shop:

You can see it's quite small:

And from the inside of the shop, it looks like the fairies are getting quite comfortable:

Because Urban Fairies are as fickle as any Woodland or Flower Fairy,the locations change with whims. At any given time, there may ormay NOT be a door when you look.

One of the most amazing examples can be found in the children's section of the Ann Arbor library.

Fairies have taken root here! The urban fairy library door is a teal colored double door in the end of a book case of fairy tales.

Not only a double door, but windows in several of the books. The shelf sign reads: "Please do not touch. These books are out of circulation. Besides there may be someone living in them and it would be rude to disturb them. "

Although the sign requested people not to touch, it apparently was difficult to comply with! Some of the damage has been repaired. Unfortunately, who knows how likely it will be that the fairies will return!

In hopes that they will return. children are leaving gifts for the fairies: pennies, candy, hand-knit socks made with tiny needles, teeny felt hats and fairy-sized coloring books. These gifts are referred to as "fairy droppings".

These doors seem to appear overnight. But how can one get a fairy door of their own? This question does not have a simple least not one that I can give. There ARE people and companies that make and sell "fairy doors. Some handy people have made their hopes of enticing fairies to come visit. A couple of them can be found on Etsy.
Amongst my favorites, are those made by WeeFolksOutfitters.

Here is on of his Fairy/Faerie Doors (Also suitable for Elves, Gnomes, Sprites and other Wee Folk)

According to WeeFolksOutfitters:

"Have homeless fairies been bouncing off your windows? Are sad little gnomes milling about your garden and sleeping under leaves? Do you find passed out pixies in your mailbox?Don't just sit there saying "oh, the poor wee things"...Be a part of the solution!All you have to do is install one (or several) of my fairy doors around your abode (and yes, you do have to buy them first -- this isn't "Habitat for Supernatural Beings"). You can put them in your garden, mount them on the side of your house, put them on a bookshelf, lean them against a tree or stump or big stone and "voila!"... an instant home for the wee folk!I make what have been called the "finest" fairy doors on the Intarwebs. They've also been called "magnificent", "cute", "adorable" and other nice things. Unfortunately, the artist (me) hasn't -- but then I'm just an overfed long-haired leaping gnome known to spill wine.All of my doors are constructed of solid knotty pine (unless otherwise noted) and each one has a personality of its own. I also sign and date each one on the back. The door and door frame are separate pieces of wood. Very important detail... THE DOOR DOES NOT OPEN -- at least not by human hands."

I have already found a tree that I think would be perfect for a door. Who knows, perhaps someone might move in.
These and other fairy doors can be found at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You can find lots of unique items on Etsy. In fact, you can spend days just looking at items that range from high art to garage sale rejects.

Somewhere in between are the stuffed bunnies that SpiderCamp makes. (At least SpiderCamp claims they're bunnies.)
There are various categories of bunnies. First are The Bunnies Of Purity. These include such friendy creatures as The Happy Skinny Baby-Safe Red Bunny with Orange Heart:

Or The Odd Happy Blue Bunny with Ear Issues and Little Yellow Heart:

And The Happy Green Geek Bunny:

<---I swear this guy lives in the cubicle next to mine at work.

Then there's the category called Bunnies What Swear.

A perfect example is this cute little creature aptly named Sweet Little Pink Bunny with the Terrible F Word:

<---Got to love the strategically placed censoring thumb.

One of my son's favorite words is "poop" which he likes to pipe up unexpectedly in fine Tourettesian form. (This would make a great story all itself...maybe another day.) So when Christmas shopping time rolled around, I just had to get one of these little creatures for his stocking. After poring over SpiderCamp's offerings, I finally decided on this one:

The Unhappy Blue Poop Bunny:

I plunked down my $13 through PayPal and a week later he arrived. What Spidercamp didn't mention in the item description is that her bunnies can fly! Do you know what the velocity of a blue poop bunny flung across the living room is? Well, neither do I, but with the proper trajectory he could make it clear across the house!

Come Christmas, I'm hoping my son might forget about the poop bunny when he returns to college. Otherwise, I'll be visiting SpiderCamp's shop again. Maybe I'll get a WTF bunny next time. Or maybe some of her crocheted pocket bacon.

You can find more of her bunnies at

Why buy handmade?

8 Reasons You Should Buy Handmade Products over Commercial Products

1. Handmade products are unique. Do you really want the same scarf, mug, earrings, necklace or other item that 20,000 other people have? Of course not! Handmade items are always unique, even if they are the same type of product because they are not made by machines - they are crafted by human beings so each piece will have its’ own unique characteristics.

2. Handmade items have personality. Life is not about being blah. Life is about expressing yourself and to do that your things need to have as much personality as you do. If you are happy with buying mass produced items that have no personality off a shelf at Wal Mart think about what that says about you. Don’t you want to express some personality?

3. Handmade items are special. When you get a gift don’t you feel a little bit more loved when someone gives you a handmade gift? Everyone loves getting handmade gifts or wearing something that was made just for them.

4. Handmade items last longer. Because they are made from high quality materials and handcrafted by trained artists items that are handmade last longer than low quality imported mass produced items.

5. Handmade goods are high quality. If you are a person who values the quality of an item more than the price then you already know that handmade items are far superior to mass produced items. While a mass produced item may be cheaper initially is it really cheaper when the item needs to be replaced a month later? When quality matters, go handmade!

6. Handmade items are not made by children in sweatshops in Third World countries making 10 cents a day. Experienced and trained craftspeople make each handmade item. So while you might pay a few dollars more for a handmade item it’s because you are paying for quality materials, years of experience, artistic talent, and well-honed craftsmanship. Isn’t that worth paying for?

7. When you buy handmade you are supporting traditional arts and crafts techniques that have passed down through generations. In today’s high tech world the old arts and crafts traditions are being replaced by mass production but when you buy handmade you are saying that you prefer your items to be high quality pieces of art instead of mass produced trinkets.

8. When you buy handmade you are supporting local and small businesses. By paying artists and craftspeople for their goods you are supporting them and all the businesses that they do business with. If you are a person who believes in supporting your community economically then buying from local artists is a great way to support your community and make sure that your money goes to support local businesses.Keep these things in mind the next time you see a scarf, a bracelet, some great handmade soap or other item and think,” I could get that for half price at Wal Mart.”!

The above was originally written by CozyCat. You can find her at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A while back while I was out on a garage sale run , I found a toy rock tumbler -the kind that you can buy at Michaels Craft Stores - for only $3.00.

It didn't look too bad. According to the seller, the tumbler was never used, but the little rocks and the grit were missing. But, all in all, not a bad deal. I thought my 10 year old would like to try it or maybe I could use it for something.

Well a couple years passed and the tumbler collected dust in the front closet.

I had always heard that tumblers are great for silver jewelry. They supposedly shine silver up and harden it. Since I make a lot of silver jewelry, it sounded like it might be worth a shot.!

Next step: find out what I need to know about tumbling silver jewelry.

Google, of course comes in handy. I found this site that tells you just about everything you need to know about tumbling silver: Armed with the information, I am ready to begin.

First. I already have a tumbler. (So what if it's plastic! No snickering!) It looks simple enough and seems to work all right without anything in it..

Next, I need to get some steel shot - probably about a pound worth. After checking some sites, I realize that I will be paying more for my steel shot to FILL the tumbler, than I PAID for the tumbler itself. Plus there's a shipping fee for mailing a whole pound of stainless steel shot across state borders. This is getting expensive.

So, $24 later I have my steel shot:

I guess it must be dirty because the directions say that I'm supposed wash it before I use it with jewelry.

??? So what should you use to wash steel shot with???

Well, I have a colandar. I checked the holes and decided that the shot PROBABLY wouldn't go through them. But...what a minute... using a colandar would mean I would have to put it and my steel shot in my sink and run water over them. Not a good idea. I don't want any steel shot going down my sink and into my garbage disposal! Bad idea!

What else? Let's see, I have some stainless steel mixing bowls. I can fill one up with soapy water, put the steel shot in it and swish it around. The shot could be washed on my countertop and not on the sink.

OK! Let's go!

So I got my bowl, put some warm water in it, and placed it around five feet away from my sink. Opened up my steel shot and started pouring it carefully in the water. Well, those steel shot are pretty heavy, and they seemed to gather some speed while I was pouring them in. All of a sudden -SWOOSH!

Do you know what happens when steel shot hit a steel mixing bowl. They start bouncing. About 5 of them bounce out of the bowl, and wouldn't you know those suckers bounced right across the counter top straight for my sink, with me scrambling after them and trying to catch them before they reached it.

I managed to catch two. You KNOW where the others went.

Yes, there're down there.
No, I can't get them out.
Yes, I have to tell my husband something.

The plumber was called the next day. I was lucky. The housecall only cost $120 because we didn't need a new garbage disposal. That would have been at least another $150 more.

In the end:

Rock Tumbler: $3
Steel Shot for said tumbler: $24
Plumbing bill for steel shot in disposal: $120
Look on my husband's face when the plumber handed him what was stuck in the disposal: priceless.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I want to learn to solder so badly and also be able to make silver headpins with little balls on them. I have asked for a propane torch for Xmas but my darling husband tells me that no way he could conscience giving me one, due to my propensity toward absentmindedness.

I've read that you can use a gas stove. By just holding the wire in the flame (with TONGS of course), the end of the wire should ball up. Then you can pop it in a glass of water to cool down.

Well, unfortunately, I don't have a gas stove. I have an electric range. Would that work? No, I found that the damn wires wouldn't ball up on my electric range.

Oh yes. Desperate times drive us to desperate measures.

This afternoon I just HAD to have some headpins. No torch. No gas stove. (Oh, and I also tried to use matches. but that just didn't work. The only thing that got me was some blackened wire.)

But suddenly I realized, WE HAVE A GAS GRILL. Got my silver wire, matches, metal tongs, a glass of water, and perseverence. The gas grill worked great. Wow, those silver wires heat up and ball up quickly. Now I have head pins but NO HAIR on my fingers.


Oh, it was GLORIOUS.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A while back I thought I would try my hand with seed beads. My husband was complaining that I was making so many pieces of jewelry and not selling anything. So I figured that seed beads are pretty cheap, and it usually takes quite a while to make a piece. So this would keep me busy while keeping the quantity of my output down.

I found a beautiful bracelet in one of those Beading magazines and thought I would give it a try.

Of course I never did this before so I needed SUPPLIES. Needles, threads, and, most importantly, BEADS. Shiny, shiny, little seed beads.

I found the most amazing beadshop just a few miles from my house (of course, I did) that has every seed bead imaginable. Of course I didn't want the least expensive beads. Oh no. Those Japanese Raku beads called to me. I think there're like about $5 for a little container.

This was starting to add up.

Finally I got to work. I never knew working with seed beads is such a pain. It takes FOREVER. Just getting the stiches right, trying to figure out the instructions, and picking up tiny little beads that spill all over your carpet. I have a new appreciation for people who work with these types of projects.

Oh, let's say about ...oh... 40 hours of beading later, my bracelet was finished. Except for the clasp. It took me about 2 weeks to find a button that I liked to finish off the bracelet. (Of course, I found a lot of other buttons that I liked. So I had to buy them too. Just in case. You know, for future projects.)

Another 4 hours and I got the clasp finished. FINALLY.

This is my first AND LAST beaded bracelet:

While it wasn't THAT expensive for supplies, I could never recoup the cost for time I spent making this thing. If I decide to sell it, I'll probably end up making less than $1.00 per hour of time spent on it.

I think I will stick with either stringing larger beads or, preferably, working with sterling silver. Especially the kind of projects where I can hammer it - SOO therapeutic. Can't do that with seed beads.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ostriches are clever and hard to catch. They run very fast and their kick is strong enough to kill a man or even a horse. It was hard for early people to catch ostriches, but their eggs were more available. They are about the size of 40 chicken eggs. To steal one from an ostrich nest, just throw a rock into the weeds. Ostriches are curious and will leave the nest to see what is going on. And what a steal! I have not eaten an ostrich omelet, but many people say they are very tasty. If you empty the egg from a hole you can use the shell to hold water (before people had bottles or pots). And when the eggshell breaks, you can make beads from them.

The pic on the left is of individual ostrich eggshell beads. The way that they are made is that the egg shell is broken into shards and smaller pieces are broken from the shards. The small pieces are made more or less round by tapping them with a piece of horn or metal. A stone is used as an anvil. A hole is drilled through the centre of the beads with an awl and they are then strung onto a rolled sinew thread (or plastic these days) until they fit tight against each other. They are then ground along a stone to smooth them on the edge. (See picture on the right.) Sometimes for color, beads might be roasted in a fire or dyed using natural dyes.

Some of the oldest beads in Africa are of ostrich eggshell. They have been dated to 37,000 to 39,900 years ago. I've also seen an article from Science magazine that claimed that ostrich shell beads found in Tanzania may be more than 110,000 years old.

So what can you make out of these beads? I've had a strand for a while (I also collect old African trade beads and vintage beads - something I'll probably blog about on another day) and couldn't decide what to do with them. I put together a necklace using them together with some old eye-beads and turquoise. But it just didn't work out like I wanted to, so I put it away for about a year. Recently I took another look at it and decided to salvage it and make some earrings.
Here's a couple of pics of how they turned out. I think they have a tribal look to them ..or maybe an organic look. Anyway, they're pretty unusual.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My first post ever

Uh oh. Now I have a blog. But what do I do with it. I guess I'll find out.

(...10 minutes later)
Well maybe I will start with talking about one of my hobbies, which is jewelry making. I've been making jewelry for quite a few years and have started selling recently. Not that I've ever made a profit. Oh no, I only hope to make a few bucks to support my habit.

So I found this website called Etsy, where you can post your hand-made stuff and supposedly sell it. (Note the word "supposedly")

Sounds easy. It's not.

First, there are only a gazillion other people who make handcrafted jewelry, and so the competition is stiff. Then nobody really seems to know about Etsy - so it becomes your job to advertise.

I don't think anyone can really make a living there. But it's sort of exciting to be able to set up a shop and see your work on the internet
You can visit my etsy site at this address

And since I have to hone my bloggins skills, let me show you what I listed this week on Etsy.

(...30 minutes later...)
And here they are:

Now let me spruce up this blog some more.

(...3 hours later.....)Look, I finally got a thumbnail album up. There it is on the right side of this page. (Thank you Lisa for the helpful hint.)