Sunday, December 29, 2013

Just like Sponge Bob!

Sponge Bob mitai!

I've wished for long, lush, curly eyelashes for most of my post-pubertal life. I bought a Shiseido eyelash curler sometime during my first year out of university, and I still use it on a daily basis. I think I have left the house with uncurled, mascara-free lashes about once this past year. But I'd never crossed over to the dark side of falsies. They seemed so…false. Plus, I was too cheap to shell out the money for the high-end ones, while I was wary of the Chinese and Korean imports. Then, a domestic cosmetic company came out with a line of inexpensive falsies, so I had to give it a try. Today, I bought a pair that promised "natural, feminine lashes" and came with a small tube of eyelash glue.

After much trial and error (including the conclusion that I was never going to get them on right without putting my contacts in), I managed to get them on, and well, I finally had the long, lush, curly eyelashes I'd dreamed of for so long.


The Pumpkin Princess walked in on me while I was doing all this and said, "You're wearing falsies! I don't like them on you. They make your eyes look too big, like you're not Mommy."

As I was marveling at how she did not want a pretty mommy but HER mommy, the Pumpkin Prince came to see what the fuss was about. He smiled and said, "wow, you look cool!"

I was of course delighted with this statement of approval. "Really?"

"Yeah! You look just like Sponge Bob!"

He left for a moment and brought back this old Happy Meal toy.

"See? Just like Sponge Bob! Now all you have to do is paint yourself yellow and draw circles on your cheeks!"

Talk about burst bubbles...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's bleeding!

Chi ga dete iru!
The Pumpkin Prince has outgrown his full function car seat and is ready to progress to a booster seat. On the other hand, my friend N's son is growing out of his infant size car seat and is ready for a regular car seat. She is also in the planning phase of building a new house. So I planned a nice little Sunday tea where N and her family could come check out our house for ideas (she was especially interested in our kitchen) and she could pick up the Pumpkin Prince's old car seat. N's two-year old is allergic to eggs and wheat flour, so I bought locally grown apples and grapes for him. N brought an assortment of items from her local pastry shop.
I was getting ready to make coffee when I heard a loud cry. And the Pumpkin Daddy yell, "he's bleeding!"
The Pumpkin Prince had fallen and cut his forehead and was bleeding like…like…I don't know, livestock?
Facial wounds are notorious for bleeding more than their size. Fortunately, N was a quick thinker and shoved the Pumpkin Daddy aside, grabbed a handful of Kleenex and pressed firmly on the cut. The bleeding stopped pretty quickly. We apologized to N and her family and asked them to go home (with the car seat, of course), and I took the Pumpkin Prince to the duty clinic, which was a dermatologist's.
(As I've previously mentioned, in most Japanese communities, there is a "duty doctor" who covers the entire city on Sundays and national holidays. Of course, the emergency department in large hospitals is open all day every day, but for small things like colds and cuts, you are supposed to go to the duty doctor.)
As it turned out, the dermatologist was of the cosmetic surgery kind (he was the former chief of reconstructive surgery in the biggest reconstructive surgery department in town). He stitched up the cut very quickly. That was 2 weeks ago, and there's hardly even a trace of a scar left.
So…we were lucky that N's head is screwed on straight (much straighter than mine or the Pumpkin Daddy's) and the duty clinic doctor was so skillful. So we got treated by a plastic surgeon on a Sunday for free (medical care for children under 15 is free in this city.) Another episode that makes me thankful for Japanese medical care…(your milage may vary according to your age, location, nationality and ailment…)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Egg yolk is yellow

Tamago no kimi ha kiiroi Apparently, my favorite fashion blogger paid this blog a visit. So, yay! Thanks so much for dropping by! The Pumpkin Prince had his class trip to the local zoo. He asked for either a Doraemon lunch or a Pokemon lunch. Since my last attempt at blue characters fared badly, I decided to stick to colors found in natural foods.
Pikachu is rice colored/ flavored with boiled egg yolk, salt, and curry powder, with sliced cheese and nori features. The mouth is imitation crab. The Pokemon ball is a hamburger covered with sliced cheese, imitation crab, and nori. I always show the kids the lunches before I pack them in their bags so that they know that the lunch started out as a reasonable likeness. When the Pumpkin Prince saw the lunch, he said, "I wanted Doraemon!" I think 4 1/2 years old is old enough to give the "you're supposed to say thank you before you ask for better/ different/ more" talk, isn't it?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

expands at the bottom

Yesterday the Pumpkin Princess had a make-up swimming lesson. Between Facetime-ing the lesson to the Pumpkin Daddy (who FaceTime'ed the Pumpkin Prince playing in the park) I ripped out the stitches in my 5 year-old white Uniqlo jeans. I wanted to slim the boot-cut legs so that they would be a pair of classic straight-leg white jeans that I could wear to work pretending they were white dress pants.
I ripped out the hem and the topstitching on the inseam.
When I got home, I traced the line of the back and front panels of my "gosh-why-didn't-I-buy-two-pairs-of-every-color" classic cut gray Uniqlo jeans on to the white jeans using chalk. The white jeans were cut almost exactly like the gray jeans up to the knee.
Then I sewed along the line, zig-zag stitched and trimmed the raw edges, and re-hemmed the cuff. I decided not to re-do the topstitching on the inseam because it wouldn't really change the look of the jeans that much and it would be pretty much near impossible anyway (I think the topstitching was originally done before sewing the side seam) . I think the whole procedure took about 3 hours. I now have classic straight cut white jeans that fit perfectly at the waist and hip.

Monday, September 23, 2013

(It) hurts, but...

Itai kedo...

I have a love/ hate relationship with heels. These days, I wear them about twice a week when I think I need to make an effort to look sharp. I would love to be one of those leggy women who can strut around in ballet flats and look cool, but I have short fat legs that need all the help they can get. Even women with nicely proportioned bodies are afraid of flats. For example,

my favorite fashion blogger in flats:

And my second favorite fashion blogger in flats:

See how they are standing on their toes for their full-body shots? They're doing that to make their legs look longer. They know that they need the heels to create the body proportion required by modern fashion, but want to wear flats, so they compromise by being photographed on tip-toe. And these are women with beautiful, long, slender legs. So heels hurt. Everyone knows this, and everyone who tells you otherwise has something going on or is on something or both. I've found that some things help, of course. In a similar vein as DIY alterations, I've taken to putting things in my shoes that take the edge off the discomfort. This pair has self-adhesive silicone rubber arch supports, and a heel pad on the right shoe but not the left. This is because my right foot is slightly smaller than my left, and if I get a pair that fits my left foot, the right shoe keeps slipping off. The heel pad keeps keeps that from happening. The shoes are leather, so they'll stretch eventually, and I'll probably slap a heel pad on the left shoe while changing the heel pad on the right shoe with a thicker one.

I wear this pair with toe cushions. The toe cushion keeps my toes from sliding into the narrow pointy end of the shoe that will strangle them, and lets it stay in the wider portion of the shoe.
You work with what you have (or can afford), be it legs, pants, or shoes.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How'd that happen?

Nande kou naru no? I bought a Uniqlo dress in June. It was off-white and had an embroidery lace bodice, a crochet lace waistband, and a light, airy semi-flared skirt. I thought I'd wear it under denim jackets. The bodice was looser than I liked, so shortly after I bought the dress, I decided to add waist darts. Last weekend (of course this would be about 3 months after I decided I wanted to alter it) I detached the lining, removed the crochet lace waistband, ripped away the skirt from the bodice, and added waist darts...and discovered that the waistband still fit the bodice without alterations. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot. The weirder thing is, the looks slightly more fitted than before I altered it. In another "how'd that happen," my post about shortening the sleeves to my chambray jacket has 63 hits so far (most of my posts get about 10, and the hits are by people on my Christmas card list. That is, if I actually ever got around to sending Christmas cards. That is, never mind). Sorry to the people hoping for an alterations tutorial. Maybe someday...but if I do one, the first one is going to be a trousers alteration.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Still here

Mada iru

Anyone still here?

(sound of crickets chirping)

OK, I'll just talk to myself, then.

2 months ago, there was an enormous work SNAFU that was entirely NOT my fault, but I got us out of it. I think I am the only one on campus that could have got us out of that one...but leave it to party pooper types to make it like 1) it IS my fault 2) I am a LOSER for LETTING this happen (as opposed to being a total rock star for getting us out of it). 2 months later, I can look back and say "oh well, there are party poopers to be found everywhere in this world, I am the ROCK STAR, baby" but back then, I let the pooper get me down.

Getting down let me lapse into a period of no exercising or sewing. I should know by now that exercise give me more energy and sewing is stress relief (not to mention a way to keep away from late night drinking/ munching).

Summer is here, and along with it, gakudo lunches for the Pumpkin Princess. Gakudo is after school day care. They look after the kids for the entire day during long school holidays. They don't have meal prep facilities, so they order box lunches from an outside contractor, but sometimes the Pumpkin Princess wants to take homemade lunches. (Actually, she wants a homemade lunch every day, but that's not happening)

The Pumpkin Princess said the Monsters lunch wasn't very good. I made it for her when she went to see "Monsters University" with her day care. The rice got a little too watery when I added the sushi rice seasoning. 

There's more, but that's all for now.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I came all the way here

Kokomade kimashita

My quest for jeans that fit at both the hip and the waist has finally brought

I've removed the rear center belt loop, and ripped the waistband from the back yoke. These are Uniqlo stretch high-rise straight leg jeans bought online about 2 or 3 years ago. They were about 5 cm too loose at the waist, even though they fit just about right (not too loose, not too tight) at the hip. To be on the safe side, I decided to take in 4 cm at the waist. I put 2 darts on each side of the yoke, and then I stitched the waistband in 4 cm at the rear center. Then, I stitched the waistband back to the yoke, and replaced the belt loop. The last part was the most difficult, because 2 layers of belt loop  (2 layers of fabric x 2) + 2 layers of altered waistband (2 layers per altered layer x2) meant that the machine was stitching through 8 layers of denim. I was pretty much yanking the fabric through the machine.

So the stitching is a little crooked and the back center belt loop is a little low. But now, even without a belt, I can get by without having to hike them up every 30 seconds.

Once I got started, the whole thing took about 3 hours. 

The only thing is, it took about 3 months to get started.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shortening sleeve length

Sodetake wo tsumeru

Work has been a collection of SNAFUs. The very description of my job almost guarantees that the people I work with on a daily basis are much smarter than the general population. (I didn't say I was smart, I said that as a collective group, my colleagues are smarter than most people.) But since we're specialists, we have clerk types who SHOULD be helping us with our work, but can't (or worse, won't) perform simple tasks. And when I say simple tasks, I mean 5th grade math. Sigh...

With that going on, I haven't had much time or energy for things like sewing. Last month, I shortened the sleeves of my chambray jacket. This is my grownup denim jacket that I throw on over my T-shirts or turtlenecks and wrap a scarf around my neck to pretend I thought about getting dressed in the morning. The trouble is, I had to roll up the sleeves for my hands to show. I could have shortened them at the cuff, but that would have meant dealing with the vented cuff and quasi-antique buttons, which I both really like.

So I did the only thing a girl could do...

I ripped out the sleeve at the shoulder, and shortened it there.

The chalk marks are 4 cm from the original seam. They will be the new (target) sew line. I marked this line the old fashioned way, using a ruler and chalk, measuring 4 cm from the original seam, marking, measuring, marking, measuring, marking and connecting the dots.

And here it is, all sewn back together again.

There is minor creasing at the shoulder, but I think it falls in the realm of "what, you are bothered by THAT when there are children starving in Africa? Get a life" territory. It would probably bother me more if the jacket were something like wool serge, but it's chambray with a bit of a crinkle, so, yes, there are children starving in Africa. The sleeves are now the perfect length, and when I wear the jacket under my also DIY altered trench coat, the cuffs don't show! So, Yay me!

I really need to sew again.

I'm up earlier than usual today because airway blockage woke me shortly before 4 a.m. OK, I made that sound a lot worse than it actually was. My nose is stuffed up from pollen allergies, made worse by my being too tired to shower before going to bed (it actually makes a difference. Showering before bedtime ensures that you wash all the pollen out of your hair). Then I started answering work e-mails (attempted cleanup of previously mentioned SNAFU) and it was all kind of downhill from there. I think I'll post this, then shower, and get the Pumpkin Daddy's breakfast ready (but not the Pumpkin Prince and Princess's, not yet, because the three of us have a holiday but the Pumpkin Daddy has to go to work).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I can't get out!


A couple nights ago, I was Jillian Michaels-ing after having put the kids to bed. About 1/3 of the way through the workout, I heard a voice call "okaasan!! I can't get out!"

I caught my breath and went upstairs to the master bedroom, which is where the Pumpkin Daddy and Pumpkin Prince sleep. I found the Pumpkin Prince between the double bed and the crib, and inside the comforter. He'd somehow crawled through the spaces between the snaps on the opening of the comforter cover, and fallen between the two beds while trying to get back out.

The rescue effort was severely hampered by my inability to stop laughing.

This is a very bad picture of me in the mirror wearing my now reasonably fitting black dress from the previous millennium and new quasi-Chanel tweedy jacket (minus shoulder pads and about 4 cm off the sleeves). You can also see the beds and comforter cover that were the source of the Pumpkin Prince's misfortune.


I'm currently working on my chambray jacket. I am trying something I have only heard about, which is shortening the sleeve at the shoulder. It's taking longer than I thought it would because I'm also dealing with work stuff at home. Sewing is stress relief (when I manage to get it done right).

I looked at the sidebar and I noticed I got a hit from Turku, Finland! Hi, Turku! My boss lived there for a year. I am juggling the logistics aspects of going there in 2014 for work stuff and taking the kids with me. They love Moomin.

Saturday, January 26, 2013



I have a little time to myself between the kids' bedtime and my own. I usually do my sewing or Jillian Michaels-ing at this time.

I'd been trying to alter a black knit dress bought in a previous millennium. Thinking I'd try to add about 6 cm (2 1/2 inches) to the waist and 3 cm (1 1/4 inches) to the hips, I took out the 4 darts part-way and took out the side seams. Black thread in black knit fabric turned out to be really hard to rip out without damaging the fabric, and it was a slow, tedious process. If that weren't enough, when I tried the dress on, a good couple centimeters of the lining peeked out of the hem and it looked baggy at the sides. So I got frustrated and sidetracked.

I realized that on nights I didn't sew or exercise, I ended up eating chips and drinking soda. Which is unhealthy. Especially at night.

There's obviously only one solution, which is sew and exercise more and eat less. At night, anyway.

(I finished the dress alterations, by the way.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

(Wow, 3 posts in 14 days...better be careful, I might hurt myself...)

Of the things I said I wanted to do,  I've managed to make these for the Pumpkin Princess's boots. I bought the fake fur online. I cut a rectangle out of fake fur, sewed it into a loop, and turned over and stitched down the edges. I cut the black leg-warmer-ish thing out of one of my old T-shirts and stitched it on the fur.

The neutral color goes so much better with the pinks and purples she favors.

We took it on a test run to the local mall. About 20 minutes in, the black lining started sliding up and the fur cuff started sliding down. I think I will fashion a stirrup out of plain elastic and see if she'll do another test run.

My next project will be a 10 year-old black knit dress. It has 3/4 sleeves. It's a pre-pregnancy dress. In fact, it's a single girl dress that was bought before I started dating the Pumpkin Daddy. If i can take it out enough so that it's not drum-tight against my, um, curves, I can wear it under the cropped tweed jacket that started all this alteration/ sewing madness!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Just the right length

Choudo ii take
So I took in the sleeves of my quasi-trench coat. I say "quasi" because real trench coats are made of specially treated cotton or wool, and mine is made of the same material as the Pumpkin Princess's windbreaker. It's great as a grown-up windbreaker, and also during cedar pollen season (the pollen shakes off more easily than regular cotton or wool).

I ripped out the stitches in the cuffs and also part of the seams so that I could move the cuff strap up. The sleeves are slightly tapered, so when I tried to machine stitch the cuff, I got some really ugly creases. So I decided to hand stitch it in place. This way, it still looks a little lumpy, but smooth to the point where I can accuse a non-sewing geek who notices the lumps of having issues I can't help them with (and the sewing geek will totally understand about getting to the point where you just kind of call it a day. Unless, of course, they are a Japanese sewing geek, in which case all bets are off).

I tried the coat on, very, very pleased with myself...until I realized that the sleeves on the cardigan I was wearing were too long, and a good 2 inches showed from the cuff of the coat. I suppose I could wear it with the sleeves of whatever I'm wearing underneath rolled up, but that usually only works for the first 10 minutes after I go out the door. So it's either bracelet length sleeves (3/4 sleeves for you normal sized folks), or altering the sleeves on all my sweaters.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Made to order


I haven't made New Year's resolutions, but I did make New Year Holiday resolutions. It is a short list of things I wanted to do during my 6-day holiday.

1) Limit late night chips binge to 3 nights out of 6. Mission accomplished.

2) 3 sessions of exercise (probably Jillian Michaels's Ripped in 30). 2 sessions.

3) Alter or embellish 3 articles of clothing. Almost done. Sort of.

Item #1: a pair of Uniqlo pants I'd bought shortly after giving birth to the Pumpkin Princess. The idea was that I was not sure what my body was going to do after childbirth, so I would buy cheap pants to carry me over. I did lose most of the baby weight, but my body changed shape, so the cheap pants were a good call. However, they didn't fit right then and they don't fit right now. I tried taking in the waist at the sides, but now they look too tight at the hips. So I altered, but it didn't help.

Item #2: a pair of navy blue Eddie Bauer pants with a concealed side zip. I took in the waist at the back seam. They have now become the most perfectly fitting pair of pants I currently own, and perhaps are the most perfectly fitting pair of pants I have ever owned in my life (but they have ceased to be Eddie Bauers because I forgot to sew the brand tag back on before stitching the waistband back together). I'm now considering altering the leg line. They are slightly flared, but the flaring starts a few inches below the knee (flares are most flattering if they start an inch or two above the knee). I am swaying between making them a pair of straight leg pants and re-cutting the flare to be more flattering, or just leaving them as they are now. I love that they fit, but just because they fit does not mean they have ceased to be a lint magnet...

Item #3 (or 2.5?): The Pumpkin Princess' velveteen jumper that she can't wear to school because it doesn't have pockets. I cut pockets out of a dress she grew out of, fused interfacing to it, and stitched them on. I want to add lace (also ripped out of a dress she grew out of), so this one is not completely done.

So the new sewing machine is being put to good use! I have so many plans about what I want to alter/ make, and I need to control myself from biting off more than I can chew. Right now I want to:

1) Make boot cuffs for the Pumpkin Princess's new boots. They were on sale. They have adorable bronze colored, star-shaped studs, but they also have a red plaid cuff that clashes with 70% of her wardrobe. I ordered some fake leopard print fur online, and will probably stitch it to some quasi-leg warmers I hope to fabricate from an old T-shirt.

2) Alter some more pants. I ordered thread online. There are few things that make you feel like a better sewer than you already are than owning a set of color swatches for sewing thread.

3) Alter some jackets. I have an Eddie Bauer chambray jacket bought about 2 years ago that has vented cuffs with antiquated buttons. I want to see if I can shorten the sleeves at the shoulder, because I really like the vented cuffs. I also have a jacket that I bought about 10 years ago that still fits, but...looks like I bought it about 10 years ago. I haven't managed to put my finger on exactly WHAT makes it look like I bought it about 10 years ago, but the fabric is still in great shape. If I mess up, I'll just use that as an excuse to buy one like it. If I don't mess up...I'll come back to this blog and brag everyone's ears (eyes?) off!

Happy New Year!