April 2009 Archives

Wedding Madness

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Maureen and Mark were married at home on one of the most gorgeous spring evenings in many years. Their friends and families pulled together to cook the wedding feast and create a party atmosphere with music, flowers and decorations. It was truly beautiful. My favorite memory of the day is looking up at a shower of rose petals glowing in the late afternoon sunlight with Mr & Mrs Bailey smiling together in a brilliant blue sky.

My other memories are of rushing to finish tasks and hoping to enlist help. Most of time of the wedding day and the preceding days, you would have seen me as above - something in my arms, my back to you as I scurried away bent on completion. With the combined love from friends and family, we made the day just right for the happy couple. I know they cherished their day and that our effort paid off.

It was a successful event but I am happy to be home again in Japan. America seems to amplify what I dislike in myself: I am more judgmental; less patient; I can't hold my tongue; my stress level soars; I feel resentful and restless. I am frustrated that I can't control those traits. I feel sad that my relatives only know the awful me. All those bad aspects are with me in Japan, too, but so much less prominent. I am happy here and angry there.

Jo once told me that she could never live in Japan again because she didn't like the person she became when she was here. I guess I feel the same way about myself in the US. I don't want to be that person.

Hooper Trading Cards

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hooper-card-tink.jpg hooper-card-mandi.jpg
hooper-card-stina.jpg hooper-card-deanne.jpg

Hooper trading cards! Thanks to a funny comment by my husband, hooper trading cards are unleashed on the Internet. Collect them all! Trade online - use them a profile photos - print them out - add stats on the back as you like. There's a group at Flickr to share them, too.

These are the first four in the series - me and some of my hooping friends. Let's make hooper trading cards for all our hooping buddies and superstars.

Make Your Own
Download this Photoshop CS3 template. Place your photo, type in your name and location, then adjust the visibility of the colored bits. Save as a jpg and Voila! Your own trading card. Use the template back to organise your hooping stats.

Hooper Trading Card template
(PSD, 572KB)
Hooper Trading Card template back
(PSD 488KB)
Creative Commons License

Request a Card
If you don't have Photoshop, I can make your card for you. E-mail me (kristen@mediatinker.com)
1. your full-body hooping action shot (640x480 or larger),
2. your hoop name,
3. city, state/country,
4. preferred border color from these options:

Please note that card production may be delayed until the end of April.

No Shopping, report #4

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I'm still doing well on my goal of no shopping. I cheat a certain amount on sewing supplies, but I am buying more cautiously than last month and otherwise I have not purchased anything other than consumables since the start of the year.

My birthday was a bonanza of new things, thanks to the generosity of family and friends: 5 new hula hoops, a large pile of books, tasty treats, a beautiful top, lotions and potions, a handmade necklace, and lots of fabric and notions came into my life at the beginning of this month. Thanks, everyone! You've helped me to not buy stuff.

Which is not to say I don't spend money. There are lots of things that fall into the category of consumables. In fact, over 40,000 yen has floated away from my wallet in the past week. Here is a rough accounting:

Thursday 5,000 - PASMO card charge-up; 11,000 - train fare to/from Shimoda; Friday 2,000 - vegetables; Saturday 3,000 - hoop class; 10,000 - groceries and food gifts; 12,000 - 3 hour dinner at Aoi Napoli; Sunday 0 - I stayed in and sewed all day :-) Monday 1,000 - a variety of good breads; Tuesday 2,000 - laundry detergent, toilet paper and groceries

So you can see that the money goes quickly. But just imagine how fast it gushed out when I bought clothes and other stuff.

Speaking of clothes, I was very proud of myself a few weeks back when I mended a big hole in my favorite sweater. I crocheted into the knitting around the hole, then crocheted in a spiral towards the center. I added a coordinating patch on the other elbow, too. The repairs look funky and I am happy to be wearing the sweater again.

That experience has lead me to want to rework all of my clothes. I've already done some surgery on a t-shirt that didn't fit right - I turned it into a tank top that still doesn't fit but matters less- and a skirt that was too long is now a better length. My serger is amazing for that sort of thing. I have other old things I want to reshape, tear apart or simply embellish. And thanks to Mom & Jenn's generosity at my birthday, I have more fabric to work with in the coming months. My wardrobe is going to get a real overhaul.

Now here I am, more than a 1/4 of the way through the year, and I don't feel any lack or need. But my daily notebook/sketchbook is getting perilously close to being filled, so we'll see what happens next month.

Spickly Ball!



Tod came back from his long bike ride today bursting with excitement. "I brought you a present!" he proclaimed. He handed me a new "leisure sheet" printed all over with hedgehogs and words: shuffle, spine, grass, spickly ball. I am delighted to have such a cute picnic tarp.

Brussels Sprout Pot Pie


This pie is inspired by yummy Polish and eastern European foods. It is simply carmelised Brussels sprouts and onions with a garlicky crust, but each piece comes together to make something more than the sum of its parts.

Brussels Sprout Pot Pie
makes 2 pies

12 Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 onion, sliced into strips
olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp dried garlic chips, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 stick (50 g) butter or margarine
1-2 Tbsp ice water

Slowly pan fry the Brussels sprouts and onions in a bit of olive oil until they are carmelised. Divide into two ramekins or oven-proof serving dishes.

Make the crust by pulsing the flour, salt and spices in the food processor. Add the butter, cut into pieces, and process until the mixture is the texture of oatmeal. Turn out into a bowl and add the ice water, mixing with your hands until a dough forms. Chill the ball of dough for 30 minutes (or toss it in the freezer for ten minutes), then roll into two disks and top the ramekins.

Bake at 180/350 for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Beet and Carrot Curried Pie

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This is a vivid and happy dish with its turmeric yellow crust, bright beet filling and fresh cilantro green topping. I wouldn't recommend it if you don't like the earthy taste of beets or the tang of cilantro (so, Mom, not for you!) but otherwise, it is worth a go.

Beet and Carrot Curried Pie
serves 3

1 beet
1 carrot
cumin, chili powder & cardamom to taste (1/4 tsp each?)

Cook the beet (I use the pressure cooker for 20 minutes) until done but not mushy. Allow to cool. Grate. Grate the carrot. Add spices to taste & mix.

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp each chili powder, cardamom & cumin
1 stick (100 g) butter or margarine, very cold
3 Tbsp ice water

Mix the flours, salt and seasonings in a food processor. Add the butter cut into chunks and pulse until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Dump the flour-butter mixture into a bowl and add the water. Mix with your hands until a nice dough forms. Add more water if needed. Chill 30 minutes (or 10 in the freezer) then roll into two thin crusts.

Lay bottom crust in pie plate, spoon in the beet filling. Top with upper crust. Bake at 180/350 for 30 minutes or until crust is golden and crispy.

Cilantro pesto:
3 cups cilantro
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (roasted and salted)
1 clove garlic
olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced

In food processor, combine cilantro, seeds, and garlic. Drizzle in oil and lime juice in turns until the pesto is creamy. Serve on top of baked pie.

Eggplant Pie

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This pie is a scrumptious mix of eggplant, zucchini and a little bit of cheese. It requires two steps of cooking - sauteing the eggplant, then baking the pie - but isn't at all difficult. And with less than 400 calories for half the pie, you can throw in a green salad and a slice of bread and a have a really delicious & healthy vegetarian meal.

Eggplant Pie
serves 2

5 Japanese eggplants (*)
1 medium zucchini
6 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced or minced
olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 to 1 cup soy milk (**)
1/4 cup Sbrinz cheese (***), shredded

Cube the eggplants with the skins on. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Saute the eggplant in a bit of olive oil until they are softened and about half their original volume. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes and cook until the scent of the tomatoes is released. Stir in the Parmesan and soy milk, cooking briefly to let the soy milk tighten. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the zucchini into rounds or diagonals. Line the bottom of a pie plate with the zucchini as your crust. Pour the eggplant mixture over the zucchini and top with Sbrinz. Bake for about 20-30 minutes at 180/350 or until the cheese is toasted and the zucchini is soft.

(*) 5 Japanese eggplants = 1 large US eggplant. But US eggplant is more bitter, so you might want to soak the cubes in salt water for a few minutes.
(**) My soy milk is unadulterated - no sugar or wheat. If you prefer real dairy, you can make your favorite white sauce (milk and roux, usually).
(***)Sbrinz is a hard, flavorful cheese from Switzerland that is similar to Parmesan, but more piquant. If you can't find Sbrinz, substitute shredded Parmesan or an alternate Swiss cheese.

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