Sunday, August 30, 2015

Halloween Sampler start

Pattern: Halloween Sampler by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery
Fabric: 32ct light grey linen
Threads: recommended DMC 
Start: 8/29/2015

Good evening! Yesterday I had stopped by my local Hobby Lobby to get some supplies for finishing my HoE project, but I wasn't able to find what I was looking for. I will have to go into town next weekend to either Michael's or Joann's Fabrics to see if I can find what I am looking for otherwise I will have to think of a different finishing technique.

With my plans for finishing on hold, I decided to start on another fall cross stitch project, the Halloween Sampler by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. So far my favorite motif is the little witch in the 'W' block. I am using the fabric I bought in CA from We, of the Needle shop.

Can you believe it is already the end of August? I can't, but I admit that I'm glad. I have never been a 'summer' person despite being raised in the south. I'd rather have cool weather so I'm relieved that the fall is on its way.

Cool mornings, crunchy leaves, sweaters, and fall holidays......you can't go wrong with that!

Until next time >___<


Saturday, August 22, 2015

California Last Day - Rose Tree Cottage in Pasadena

Good morning. Yesterday, Amanda and her mom and I drove over to Pasadena to have high tea at Rose Tree Cottage. I thought we would have gone to the Huntington Gardens for tea, but Amanda said it was a buffet style tea and that we should try a traditional tea instead.



Rose Tree Cottage is located in a semi-residential/business part of town. It has been in business for close to 40 years. That's a serious love of England. The house is divided into two sections with the front rooms dedicated to a tea parlor while the rest of the house is taken up by an English shop full of tea cups, knick knacks, clothing, and foodstuffs.

I wish we could have taken pictures inside, but they weren't allowed. You are asked to turn off your cell phones when you enter the house so you actually relax and talk to one another instead of snapping photos every two seconds and texting on your phone.

The service was excellent. You are given a glass of elderflower lemonade and a small bowl of strawberries prior to tea. They had two types of tea, black and an herbal peppermint. Sandwiches and roast beef Yorkshire pudding are serviced first. They had traditional cucumber sandwiches along with cheese and tomato and tuna with mango. The tuna with mango was good once you got pass the odd notion of having tuna and mango together.

After the sandwiches comes the best part. Homemade scones.........with mixed berry jam and clotted cream. I will admit that I don't care for clotted cream, but the jam was fantastic. And the scone?!?! I need the recipe. They were delicious.

The last course was a small tray of mini apple pies, shortbread, and petit fours. We were so full by that time that we nibbled on the desserts.

Overall the experience was lovely. The ladies that run the shop and tea parlor were friendly and answered all sorts of questions. I would definitely recommend the place if you are in the area and need a relaxing afternoon with some tea and good company.


After tea, we had some time to burn before even thinking about dinner so we drove over to the Galleria in Pasadena. This mall is full of high end shops like Gucci and Louis Vuitton that are interspersed with regular ones like Gap and Abercrombie. I think Amanda and I found our favorite shops in there. They had Papyrus stationery shop! I love buying their cards for special occasions and was thrilled to find a storefront for their brand.

We also came across a candy/soda shop called Lolli and Pops. It's a candy lover's paradise with candies and chocolate from all the world, handmade chocolates, and a soda parlor where they make floats.

I only bought two things: some bottles of 'butter beer' from the line of candies, etc from Harry Potter and one of the handmade chocolates, the cinnamon flavor. I was joking with Amanda that I'd be in that shop every day trying a different chocolate if I lived in Pasadena.


After wandering the mall, we stopped and picked up dinner at Porto's. Amanda and I split their steak porta sandwich.


Today I head back home to AL. I'll get home around 10pm since I have a long layover in Texas.

P.S. To answer your question about the green tea ice cream. It usually tastes like matcha green tea, but it really depends on the brand. I wanted to try some while in CA, but we ran out of time. I'll have to check my local Asian market and see if I can find some to try.

Until next time >___<

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Green Tea Ice Cream Lady Cross Stitch

Design: Ice Cream Ladies by Soda Stitch
Fabric: 28ct Jobelan Lambswool linen by Wichelt Imports
Threads: recommended DMC
Start/Finish: 8/17-20/2015

This is my finished cross stitch project during my vacation this week. Green tea seemed the appropriate flavor to stitch up while in California.

When I get back home I will start stitching on my HoE Halloween exchange project since it will be going out in the mail at the beginning of September.

Until next time >___<

California Day 5 - We, of the Needle Cross Stitch Shop

Good afternoon! Today, Amanda and I only had one goal: finding a cross stitch shop.


We started out with lunch at California Fish Grill. I got their fish tacos which came with a side of fries and beans. Oddly enough, the beans reminded me of the cans of Heinz beans you'd find in England.

Afterwards, we drove over to Brea, CA to the We, of the Needle shop. I had bought a Halloween pattern from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery earlier this year and was hoping to find a different color linen for the project instead of the usual creams and tans at my local stores.



The shop has a nice selection of threads, patterns, and linens and even antique embroidery related items. The back of the shop has a framing section where you can get your finished projects framed.

We were greeted by a cute dog as we entered the shop. He loved Amanda and kept coming up to her for some pets. I wish I could have petted him, but I was afraid I'd start inching if I did.

The ladies at the store were friendly and helpful. I had showed them a picture of the design I wanted to work on and asked whether the linen I had chosen would work well with it. I was hoping to find a gray color with a bit of sparkle, but they didn't have a sparkly version so I went with another gray.


I also purchased JBW Designs' Witch pattern and a wooden acorn needleminder. The shop had a mini rabbit fob pattern freebie by The Sweetheart Tree so I grabbed one of those as well.

I highly recommend the shop if you are nearby. I love that the staff was friendly. That aspect is always an important point with me at any cross stitch shop and definitely encourages repeat customers.

I wish I could transport the shop to AL. We need a good cross stitch shop!

After that Amanda took me to Beverly's Best bakery for some macarons. We came for the macarons, but left with a few items: a raspberry lemon cupcake, a pumpkin bar, and a snowball cookie. All of it was good, but my favorite was the pumpkin bar. It requires a fork to eat as its bottom layer is pumpkin filling. Yum!!




Tomorrow is my last day in CA since I'll be flying out on Saturday morning. We plan on doing some last minute shopping and taking High Tea at a tea room in the afternoon.

Until next time >____<

California Day 4 - Crafting with Amanda - Stamping on Shrink Plastic

Good morning. Yesterday, Amanda and I decided to spend another day crafting with more experimenting with stamping on the Daiso shrink plastic and the Shrinky Dink plastic.


Our earlier attempts with stamping has shown that Stazon inks work the best. With that in mind, Amanda and I took a trip to her local Michael's and Joann's Fabrics for some more ink and clear stamps. We saw a beautiful antique car on the road on our way to the craft stores!

While we didn't find any stamps we liked, we did find some more Stazon ink colors. We picked up teal, royal purple, and black. We noticed that while the physical store didn't have a large selection, you could find more colors of Stazon online.




Our observations on stamping on shrink plastics:
1. Stazon ink is the best. It adheres well to the plastic and when shrunk it is completely dry.

2. We noticed that the Stazon ink works the best with stamps that have more detail outlines in the design (see bunnies in image above). Any stamp with large areas of concentrated color had a tendency to pull the ink and it was hard to get color completely uniform in those areas (see pandas or the lady cameo in images above).

3. Color Box inks do not work at all. We had used a pink color on one of the bunny charms and shrunk it. Even after shrinking, the ink was still wet. Amanda let the charm sit overnight to see if it would dry and there was no change. You could wipe away the ink off the charm with your finger.

4. You can use a heat gun to shrink the plastic. We used Amanda's heat gun made by the Martha Stewart company. It works well, but we noticed that sometimes you well get a bubble texture after shrinking the plastic, but that might be due to what you use to flatten your plastic.

5. The clear Shrinky Dink plastic has a smooth texture after baking while the matte version has a grainy texture. It just depends on what look you are going for.

Something you need to keep in mind while working with Shrink Plastic or Shrinky Dinks is that if you are planning to work with the material on a regular basis, you need to invest in a small toaster oven. The fumes from the plastic can be harmful and you do not want to use the same toaster oven that you cook food in to constantly use for crafting.

I have a small toaster I bought from Target a couple of years ago that I use only for polymer clay and shrink plastic crafts. I had bought it for about $25.


After crafting for a bit, we went out and picked up hot dogs from Dog Haus again. We saw another lovely car in the parking lot.

I'm not sure what we have planned today. I think we might see if we can find a cross stitch store nearby. I was hoping we could go to the Needle in the Haystack store, but I hadn't realized it was about 7+ hours away, which would make it closer to San Francisco. Perhaps on a future trip, we'll get to go San Fran.

Until next time >____<

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

California Day 3 - Little Tokyo and JF Nihongo Tea Time

Good morning. Yesterday afternoon, Amanda and I went to Little Tokyo and the Japan Foundation in Los Angeles.

We wandered through a lot of different shops before heading to Fugetsu-Do Confectionery, which is one of the oldest Japanese wagashi shops in CA.

While Amanda and I enjoyed the sweets we had bought, (red bean mochi, lemon mochi, and tsuya) I was disappointed by the interior of the shop. There were a few cases of their handmade sweets, but then the rest of the shop was filled with basic prepackaged snacks and sweets you could buy in any Asian market. For a shop that has such a long history and good reputation, I was imagining the inside of the shop to be nothing but their own creations.


After eating our sweets (dessert first?!), we decided to stop for lunch/dinner at Daikokuya, a restaurant near Fugetsu that sells ramen and rice bowls. I got the chicken teriyaki rice bowl, which came with salad and miso soup. I wasn't expecting such a large bowl of chicken and rice! It was good. I'm glad I didn't get the ramen because it would have been quite a large bowl! I would recommend this restaurant, but not during this time of year. The heat from their kitchen area fills the entire restaurant and the overhead fans do little to dispel the heat.


Afterwards we still had some time before our tea time at the Japan Foundation so we walked over to the Little Tokyo Galleria. We bought some more things from their Daiso store. They had a different selection of craft items so I bought some packs of mini bows for amigurumi making, a pack of metal charms for resin work, a cute pink pincushion, another pack of shrinky plastic, and a bag of chips. One of Amanda's friends was going to be at the tea time event and since it was her birthday, Amanda bought her a pack of fruit scented pens as a gift.


We drove over to the Japan Foundation on Wilshire to participate in their Nihongo Tea Time event. The event is a casual cafe-like setting where you chat with native speakers and instructors about Japan. When you arrive, you are asked what percentage of Japanese to English that you would like to speak. Amanda and I have no experience in Japanese so we went with the 90/10% option.

You sit at a small desk with either a speaker or instructor and talk about whatever topic they have assigned. After about 10-15 minutes a bell rings and your speaker or instructor moves to another desk. It gives you a chance to speak to different people.

Halfway through they made everyone on the right side of each desk with 90/10% skill level move to another table. The introvert in me was frantic since I could talk to Amanda at our desk and now I was going to have to socalize with someone else, but it turned out ok in the end.

Amanda and I agreed that our favorite instructor was a former university professor. She had such an easygoing approach and made the language fun to learn.

At the end of the event, we were given a sheet a paper and shown how to write our name in Japanese and then we were asked what our favorire thing was. I chose 'cat' so the instructor showed me how to write cat (neko) in Japanese. After we practiced a bit we were given a formal sheet to write our name and favorite word to take home as a gift.

I wish we had something like this foundation in Mobile, but we don't have the population or interest for such a thing.

Today's plans are crafting. Amanda and I plan on going to Michael's after she gets out of work. We want to look for some more stamps and inks.

Until next time >____<

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

California Day 3 - Hot Dogs and Kpop Heaven

Good morning. Since yesterday was a half day for Amanda, I spent the morning watching Pride and Prejudice while cross stitching. Around noon, Amanda's mom persuaded me to go with her to pick up lunch despite all my polite 'oh, but I'm ok until later' comments.

She asked if I wanted hot dogs and I said that sounded good. I remembered that Amanda said Dog Haus was one of her favorite places for hot dogs.



I ended up getting the Scott Baioli (at top in picture above), which comes with smoked bacon, white American cheese, garlic aioli, and caramelized onions on Hawaiian rolls that are toasted together to form a bun. It's definitely a fork and knife meal because of all the toppings. It was delicious for lunch. I will have to remember this place the next time I visit CA.

After lunch, I spent some more time cross stitching while waiting for Amanda to get home from work. She got home and we chatted while she ate lunch before deciding to see if the shop I remembered from last time was still in Yes Plaza.

Luckily it was so we spent a while in Hello Goodie, which sells character plushies, mugs, and other merchandise. The back part of their store is devoted to Asian music and film and tv series. No photography was allowed, but I took a few pictures so I could text my friend Kristina to see what kpop albums she already had. I have nicknamed the store 'kpop heaven' because of a comment Kristina made when I sent her one of the pictures. I really hope the store is still here when we visit Amanda in the future because the prices on the music/dvds was reasonable compared to the prices found online.


Bag of goodies from Hello Goodie shop!! I can't say what I bought as they will be Christmas or future birthday gifts! Mwahahaha!

Near Hello Goodie in the same shopping plaza is one of Amanda's favorite boba/dessert shops, Phoenix. We stopped in and had boba tea and dessert while chatting about our new favorite movies and tv series. Have you guys watched the movie, Jupiter Ascending? It isn't Oscar material, but visually it is quite beautiful. I was telling Amanda about how creepy the villain in the movie is. I hadn't realized it was the same guy who played in Les Miserables. Who would have thought he could play the villain so well?!


After that we stopped by another Japanese market called Tokyo Central. Amanda wanted to check it out because it had just reopened. I'm glad we did because I found four of my favorites that I have either had in my Skoshbox or that Amanda had sent me. I was happy to find a large bag of Black Thunder bars. We even found their last mini bag of sakura flavored Tiriol bars! At first, I thought they weren't the same ones from my Skoshbox, but they were. The same goes for the potachan senbei. I thought it tasted different from before, but they are the sweet/slightly salty senbei from my Skoshbox.

I also found an interesting flavor of Doritos for my sister and I to try. I think it might be bonito flavor, but I'm not sure because of the salsa illustration on the front of the bag.

After coming back home, we decided to play with Amanda's stamps and the shrinky plastic she got at Daiso. I brought some Shrinky Dink paper with me. We both agree that the stamps look better on the Daiso clear paper. I think we will have to make some more. The crafting possibilities with the Daiso paper are endless.

Today is another half day so Amanda and I will be going to Little Tokyo this afternoon and then to a tea ceremony put on by their local Japanese language learning organization.

Until next time >___<

Monday, August 17, 2015

California Day 2 - Sherlock Holmes and Yarn Bombing

Good morning! Our adventures on my second day were fun with a museum visit and shopping. The temperature was still high in the low 100s, but luckily we had a nice breeze all day which helped keep us cool.



We spent the morning at the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana to see the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes that was organised by EDG and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed, which is understandable with the amount of historical material in the exhibition.

When you first enter the exhibition you are given a small pamphlet (on left in photo above), which you use throughout the exhibition to solve a mystery.

The first part of the exhibition was a history of the author, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the various influences on his writing. I loved reading the letters that Doyle had written concerning his books.

After that you enter a reproduction room of what Holmes' rooms at Baker Street might have looked like. The attention to detail was great with his violin, Persian slipper, and the 'VR' initials on the wall.

The second part of the exhibition gives you a chance to learn about 19th century London and crime during that time. After that you are introduced to a replicate of a crime scene supposedly committed by a man named Persano. From there you have different stations you go to that allow you to reenact various parts of the crime to compare to Inspector Lestrade's report. At each station you punch a hole in your pamphlet which should give you a coded message at the end.

It was quite fun especially at the end because the 'crime' isn't what you were expecting, but is definitely something worthy of Conan Doyle.

The last part of the exhibition was display cases of various film props used in the newer adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes series and movies. They also had memorabilia from the series like books, games, etc. I hadn't realized that there was a fake Sherlock Holmes book produced at one time. The author had written a letter to warn people of the deception.

Overall, it was a great exhibition with a nice combination of history and literary tidbits for lovers of the stories and a bit of fun with the imaginary mystery adventure for adults and kids to solve.


My only complaint was labelling and numbering. I felt that the labels could have either had a larger font size or at least put a bit higher on the display cases so they can be read without bending down so far. The numbering was alright in certain areas, but in others the color of the numbers seemed to fade into the background. I will say it is always a juggling act with labeling in museums and how they should be displayed to make the exhibition informative without being distracting.




Afterwards we headed over to Mitsuwa Supermarket, which is a large Japanese grocery store with a food court, shops, and a J.sweets bakery.

We got several dishes to share for lunch. Pictured above is a bowl of miso ramen with pork, bamboo shoots, and naruto, a bowl of salmon and roe over rice, and a hardboiled egg marinated in soy sauce. I tried everything but the egg because I knew it would be way too salty for my tastebuds. 

The funny part of this food adventure was the meal that Amanda's mom had gotten. She thought it was beef and rice, which we all tried and thought was good. When she went to get get some different type of food she realized that it was beef tongue!!! Amanda and I thought it was hilarious because neither one of us would have eatten it if we had known what it was beforehand.

After lunch we wandered around the supermarket looking at the various shops. Amanda found an adorable little solar powered dancing panda that she had to buy for her panda collection.

Inside the market, they had a mini Kinokuniya bookstore. I found a Rilakkuma amigurumi pattern book and a few gifts for the holidays and Amanda bought some new pens in fun colors.




We decided to have dessert at the J.sweets bakery. We bought several flavors of their mochi creams and one of their mochi donuts. All of them were delicious, though I think my favorite was the sakura mochi cream.

Alot of their desserts looked vaguely familiar. It turns out that they are partners with Minamoto Kitchoan, the Japanese confectionery shop I would visit in London during grad school!!!







We wandered around the supermarket. So many foods, fruits, and kitchen gadgets....it puts my local Asian markets to shame!



I bought quite a few things, but a good majority of it is for my sister's friend Chad who loves Asian food. The chocolate at the bottom in the center is one of my favorite brands, Tiriol, which we have tried in some of the Skoshboxes so far. I was happy to see that they had it at the store in a variety box. They also had large bags of umaibo sticks. I got the cheese flavor and Amanda got the sweet corn flavor. When we got home we opened our packs and divided them up so we could have half of each flavor. We also tried the barley tea drink, which was good. It isn't sweet, but isn't too bitter either. I hope I can find it at my local Asian markets when I return home.




We finished shopping and Amanda wanted me to try some macaroons at a shop called Honey and Butter that is located in a place called The Lab, an anti-mall, which is a collection of outdoor shops. Unfortunately the macaroon shop was closed. They only stay open for as long as they have macaroons in stock. Once they sell out, they close for the day. It would have been nice to try these macaroons. They decorate them to look like Sanrio and other characters.

The plus side to visiting The Lab, we were able to see some yarn bombed trees and fencing. Part of me thinks it's fun and the practical part thinks it is wasteful...just when you think what you could make out of the yarn. I will say it does add a bit of cheerfulness to the trees :)

Today's plans are a work in progress. Amanda has to work half days since she took a majority of her vacation earlier in July when she attended SDCC in San Diego. So I plan on working on some cross stitching until she gets off of work. What?! You thought I wasn't going to bring things to work on or read! Blasphemous!!

Until next time >___<

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bunny Wanders to California - Day 1

Good morning everyone! I am spending the week with my friend Amanda and her mom in Covina, California. I arrived yesterday morning after a nice flight to step outside into 107 degree weather. I was really hoping my phone was lying about the temperature, but sadly it wasn't! I thought I could be ok in this weather since Semmes, AL has high temperatures in the summer too, but there is definitely a difference between wet and dry heat. I don't think I really cooled down until later that evening when the temperature dropped.

So our itinerary yesterday: relaxing, chatting, shopping, and a little bit of crafting. (Sounds like a good vacation so far, right?)

First order of the day, boba tea at Ten Ren's Tea Time. I thought it was hilarious because almost as soon as my luggage was loaded in Amanda's car and we were driving down street, she was telling me that I needed some boba tea. Unfortunately we got to the boba shop a little bit after they were opened so they didn't have any boba ready. So I had milk tea without boba, which was still nice and refreshing after being assaulted by 100 degree weather!


After that we got lunch at In and Out burger. I ended up getting the animal style cheeseburger, which is basically a burger with everything on it included grilled onions. If you are in CA, stop by and try In and Out. I don't think you'll be disappointed. It's not fancy, just your average burger chain, but it's good!

We decided to take our food back to Amanda's place so we could eat and chat a bit.


Since we were going for a lazy vacation day we drove over to her local Daiso store. If you don't know, Daiso is a Japanese dollar store chain. They have opened up a few of these shops along the West coast. I've seen so many haul videos on the Internet about Daiso and its products. Amanda and I walked through the entire store and came away with quite a lot of stuff. I got some letter sets, stickers and decals for resin, some felting and felt mini kits, some candies, and these neat bags for root vegetables. They are supposed to help keep your vegetables from sprouting roots so soon. I ended up getting them for my mom to try in her kitchen.

I actually came away with a few more items which I can't show you because they will be either Christmas or next year's birthday gifts. You gotta love vacation shopping for gifts!


In the same shopping area was a 85°c Bakery, which is a Taiwanese bakery chain. The last time my sister and I came to CA the only location near us was Irvine, but it was so popular that they opened several more locations. Luckily, one is near Amanda's house. We didn't want anything too heavy because of the heat so ended up sharing a fruit cup! So pretty and yummy. I love how light a dessert it was. It had jelly, fresh fruit, and (I think) almond jelly at the bottom.


Another dessert we had was this Taiwanese ice cream called snow that Amanda's mom had picked up. She got it at a shop called Class 302, which Amanda tells me is/was decorated to look like a Taiwanese elementary school classroom. She got a milk flavored version and a mango flavored one along with two small containers of toppings which included read bean, taro, almond jelly, grass jelly, and condensed milk. Both ice cream flavors were good. They are a lot lighter than American ice creams because of how they are made. They melt in your mouth. The bad thing about this type of ice cream, you can eat a lot of it and not even think about it since it isn't a dense ice cream!!! Sneaky dessert!!

Today's itinerary: the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Discovery Center. The literary geeky side of me can't wait!!!

Until next time >____<

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fall JBW Ornaments

My Sunday stitching this afternoon.


Pattern: Fall Ornamentals by JBW Designs
Fabric: 28 ct Jobelan lambswool linen by Wichelt
Threads: recommended DMC
Start/Finish: 8/9/2015

After looking through my stash of fall/Halloween patterns, I decided to go with one of my favorite designers, Judy Whitman of JBW Designs.

I stitched up two of the twelve designs this afternoon. I don't know if I will stitch up all the designs in the set, but I will stitch a few more of them as I love the motifs.

Until next time >___<