Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Reads of 2009

2009 has been an invigorating reading year. It was also a great year for new releases -- that have gone on my to-read list because my reading list is more inspired by silly whims and current obsessions rather than timeliness. Most of these came from the library - I can't say enough good about the library system around here, it's really stellar. So, here's my list of enjoyables and inspirions of 2009, in no particular order:

+ The Plague and I - Betty Smith
+ Foundling - D.M. Cornish
+ Juliet, Naked - Nick Hornby
+ We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
+ Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Winifred Watson
+ Drood - Dan Simmons
+ DC Showcase Presents Batlash - Aragones, O'Neil, and Cardy
+ A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
+ The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime: Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues, and Scoundrels from the Time of Sherlock Holmes - Michael Sims
+ Asterios Polyp - David Mazzucchelli

Drood, guys, Drood. That one was actually the end of last year, but it came out in February and I spent so much of this year thinking about how great it was and being dissatisfied with other historical fiction I read for not even coming close to matching it -- so on the list it goes. The Plague and I is still my favorite of the Betty Smith books, even though it turned out I never had TB. We Have Always Lived in the Castle was such a brilliant, deliciously creepy little gem, something it's crazy to think I never discovered before but am thankful to have read. My gaslight crime obsession continues, and Bill Bryson's charming, easy to listen to history got me through some soul-crushing hours at work. Asterios Polyp was a NOT AT ALL overrated example of what a graphic novel can be, and Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked proved it wasn't just High Fidelity, Grown Up.

It was a huge year for comics and graphic novels for me - they probably made up about 50% of my reading, and I didn't really want to count issues or ongoing non-collected volume things on this list. So, two of the things I've enjoyed reading the most this year, Tiny Titans and the Batwoman arcs going on in Detective Comics, aren't up there, but deserve a special mention for being completely awesome.

Monday, November 16, 2009

bunny magician friend

Recently I've discovered a new hobby, needlefelting! If you don't know anything about it, it's basically just stabbing wool with a barbed needle until it binds together into the shape you want. Which is, (un)surprisingly, terribly satisfying, as far as hobbies go.

One of my felted friends, the bunny magician:

I am considering turning myself into a felting machine for the winter months.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the ladies of autumn

The end of fall is coming, but there're still some surprises to be found outside!

ladybug ladybug

It's time to burrow in with some tea and a pile of books for company. Hopefully this lady has the same idea.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Infinite Summer: Dracula

Infinite Jest might have been just a little (alright, well, quite far) beyond me this past summer, but I'm looking forward to reading Dracula during October for Infinite Summer: Dracula! Despite being a horror buff I've never actually even tried to read the original classic. Now's the time to end that embarassment!

Anyone else plan on reading along?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Facebook blues

Hello blog!

Maximus missed being posted here, so here's his latest glamour-shot.

I've been posting on my twitter, when posting anything at all, just because it's easiest. And, in a funny way, while still being personal, it feels impersonal. Don't ask me how!

For a while, I've felt overwhelmed and depressed by the internet. Mostly by Facebook, to the point that I've been seriously considering disabling my account on it... but even that seems like a hassle. So I just don't add much to the internet dialogue, and continue my own little life.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Moomin Bakery & Cafe

There are so many places to want to visit in the world, and silly as it might be for me one of them is this little Moomin Bakery & Cafe in Tokyo, Japan. Pictures from my lovely friend Nikki:

Snufkin noren leading to interesting travels, no doubt.

A glance at the menu, featuring a honey toast and Moominmama's homemade pancakes! (Moomin likes them very much, it seems.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Automats and vending machines

One of the essays that I enjoyed from "The Food of a Younger Land," the newest Mark Kurlansky-edited food adventure collecting some of the material from the Federal Writers’ Project of the 1930's, came early in the book and described in worshipful detail that New York City self-service institution of old, the Automat. I've read about Automats in other things, about people going into Automats, meeting at Automats, and so on, but none so persuasive and glorious as this gem. Maybe it appeals to my love of ridiculous efficiency?

Here's the first paragraph and some glamorous photos from the google search I immediately did after reading the essay :)

"A sight to the out-of-towner, and an honored institution among the city's millions, is the mechanical lunchroom known to fame as the Automat. This type of self-service eating place is the result of deep probing into the needs to the five-minute metropolitan center. Here, the man-in-a-hurry is worried by no middle-men; his relationship with his fodder, over which he may gloat, ruminate, or despair, is strictly private. He selects, pays, conveys, eats, and departs, leaving no tip, uttering no sound."

Paying for things with nickels is looking pretty good right about now since the vending machine at work is strange and only accepts certain combinations of coins for certain products, leaving me with a purseful of useless nickels and never the dimes necessary for what I want to buy. I'm such a sucker for vending machines and often get ACTUALLY nostalgic for the convenience and efficiency and variety of vending machines in Osaka.

The whole book is of varying interest to me as a reader -- it's not really something I can say I sat down and read cover to cover -- but it's an oddly inspiring collection of food this and that, worth looking at for the introduction alone. It's crazy to imagine that these essays were just sitting around somewhere unpublished and uncelebrated.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


cleaning day

-- making lots of silly round owls, inspired by my souvenirs from Matsue Vogel Park from my trip from Matsue, Japan.

-- excited about seeing Ponyo! at the cinema! The art is so strange and amazing.

-- learning new exercises to do with my new (free!) body ball

-- browsing through want-ads and feeling pretty blah

-- finding new blogs to read that are full of beautiful things and ideas (any suggestions?)

-- putting in holds at the library. Since discovering the whole "library holds" system, I've been enjoying the silly thrill of pushing the online button to place holds with reckless abandon.

-- and, just for the fun of it, Ira Ira Ira!
cleaning day

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Voila! These were my first experiment from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, blueberry cupcakes with whipped cream topping! I'm pretty proud with how they turned out, it's not often that things I make actually come out looking like they're supposed to (it's like a curse). The book's gorgeous, well laid-out, and full of adorable ideas for everything from simple everyday cakes to spectacular party cakes with decorative doohickeys like I can only dream of. My favorites have little marzipan bees on them.

Who knows how the recipes are -- I'm hardly expert enough to say -- but these were awesome and I'm fired up to make more! ^_^/V It's one I'm thinking of investing in, but for now it's going to stay with me on extended loan from the library.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

it's a great big world out there

thrift find

My little Ira got his first taste of the outside world a couple of days ago, and it almost passed by without my usual gushing here! So, without further delay and laziness, the gushing:

After a few minutes of hesitant sniffing, pooping, and hiding by my shoes, he started speedily exploring his new frontier, traveling at speeds so fast he even startled the dog! (Maximus is pretty easily startled.) Sonic the Hedgehog was no fantasy -- these little guys can move!

Ira's usually very timid in new places, or even familiar places that don't have a good place to run and hide, so I was happy to see him in such an adventurous mood. Whenever he shows this kind of interest in a thing, or something happens that really seems to show his personality beyond the quills and bad temper, it's SOOO ridiculously rewarding that it leads to me singing a made-up song or taking a billion blurry photos thinking that they're all going to be amazing because how could they not be he's sooo cute!

Anyway :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bloggers for Moomin Awareness

This week sees the release of the fourth volume in Drawn & Quarterly's five book series of Tove Jannson's Moomin comic strips! I couldn't possibly describe the Moomin world with more loveliness than Christy over at A Shelf of One's Own, so please read her post and then go to your local bookstore or library and read something Moominy!

Promote Moomin Awareness! Celebrate, be easy-going, have an adventurous adventure, throw a party, spend time with friends, live with whimsy -- let's all do our part!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Here's a video of one of my Capybara-san toys -- the larger ones are still in storage, so for the time being it's just me, this little guy, and his pint-size brother. I wonder if these little guys are still popular in Japan these days?

The Kapibara-san/カピバラさん/Capybara-san flickr group has a lot of great pictures of these cute little toys!

Here are a few thrifting finds from the Care and Share today -- no good clothes, but a couple of neat miscellanies. The yellow and white fabric is for one of Johnny's projects, but I'm hoping I get to use some of it too to make something cute. The pin looked kind of interesting mysterious, I'm wondering if it is a logo pin for something? Probably just my imagination :)

thrift find

thrift find

I've had four people look at the yellow fabric but no one can figure out what the pattern on it actually is -- if anyone has any ideas, please let me know! Current suggestions include chickens, candies, and baby rattles.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More pet nonsense

This video pretty much sums up the relationship between my cat and my dog -- Otto (the cat) is usually pretty aloof but sometimes can be alarmingly affectionate, and then Max (the dog) likes to play/fight, but usually just ends up doing something strange or cute when Otto doesn't want to participate. But that's OK! He's a corgi, and according to my sources (chiefly, Youtube and Google image search) being strange and cute is what they do best.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sneaky sneaky

The Ott is a pretty sneaky cat.

Here's a challenge for you -- see if you can spot him in this picture!





so sneaky

Did you find him?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Since yesterday I was feeling kind of down about things, I tried making a list, goals for this any period of time. This is kind of an exercise in silliness for me because if I make it too specific I feel like I'll end up feeling bad about not accomplishing things, but making such a non-specific list almost feels like a waste of time. Because, well, don't we all?

But, broadly:

- Eventually get a better position at work. For now, continue to gain experience and hopefully find a compatible part time job while applying to interesting things as they come up.

- Write more. Blog more. Craft more. The usual suspects.

- Keep up with my reading. Read more fiction and not feel bad about it.

- Keep the house cleaner.

- Continue to use my eco-bag/ be more proactive about being quote unquote green.

- Take more pictures. One day buy back my flickr Pro account to get the pictures being held hostage there.

- Start up an etsy shop. It's almost there, I just need to decide on the logo design and print up cards.

- Study some language! Spanish, French, Japanese, it doesn't matter, but it feels good and productive to study languages.

- Pay off any outstanding debts, aside from student loans. Save money, but don't become a complete shut-in.

- Stop watching America's Next Top Model, once and for all :) Guilty pleasure or no, this debacle of a season totally lost me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's been raining here and so I decided to try to crochet a teru teru bozu last night! Though really I like the rain, so... maybe I should hang it upside down like it says to do in the wikipedia article. He came out pretty well for the first ami I've made without using a pattern.

I used to love seeing these little guys around when I was living in Japan! Lately everything has made me feel really nostalgic...


Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometime
If it's sunny I'll give you a golden bell

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
If you make my wish come true
We'll drink lots of sweet rice wine

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
But if it's cloudy and you are crying
Then I shall snip your head off!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Here's the semi-daily (weekly... occasionally monthly!) ANMD hedgie photo post! These kind of reflect my recent mood as well, but maybe that's just because work made me feel sick today. Grump grump grump, but with a twinge of frightened optimism?



Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bunnies are brown
Bunnies are white
Bunnies are always
An Easter delight!

garden bunny

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It makes me feel terrible that my friends are updating their blogs and here I am being lazy! It seems like for now my life is in a pleasant holding pattern of pets, half-baked schemes, and work.

Ira has been a cranky fellow for the past couple of days, not letting me cut his toenails. A few more days of this and I fear that they'll reach gigantic monster-toe-like proportions. He'll wiggle around, sit still for a couple seconds and let me hold his foot gently, giving me that glint of hope -- yes! This is my chance! -- and then quickly pull his foot away and huff. So frustrating!

Peaky hog

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ira seems to think that Spring here already, burrowing around and poking his head out of his Carefresh bedding. That being said, the east coast is currently covered in something like 6-10 inches of snow, so we can safely say that hedgehogs are no groundhogs when it comes to weather prognostication. Or at least Ira's lazier/craftier than your standard groundie, since he's only making his prediction now that Spring is almost here and it's a pretty safe bet that soon we'll be having warm days and free first day of Spring water ices and such.

Sleepy Hedgehog

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We had a lot of family visitors today, so Ira spent a lot of time being shown off and being awake at a time of day during which he really has no interest in being awake. Managed to get this one picture of him with a non-grumpy face, though!

Monday, February 23, 2009

On a beautifully sunny but bitterly cold day, here's another fellow from Amigurumi World, and my first attempt at making a full animal with arms, legs, and ears. Actually, it's more like my second or third attempt, thanks to the sneaky animals I live with. Up until recently the dog had been working in collaboration with the cat to get CDs, books, and small stuffed animals off of shelves and tables and into his waiting teeth. Either they're starting to get tired of this trick or I'm starting to get wiser -- this bunny actually got finished without incident.

The arms and legs on these little amis are the hardest part for me to make because of their small size, but the head, body, and ears were a breeze. Getting the hang of something new is a nice feeling!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

He has emerged!

This tiny dinosaur has been trying to emerge for two days now. One day he will grow up and succeed in freeing himself from his eggy prison. He may well kill us all.

Is this a metaphor? Either way, he's better than those capsule-bound dino sponges.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Otto wishes you a late happy Valentine's Day! Even though he finds the whole concept of love a bit frightening.

Won't you be his Valentine?

The heart is one of three crocheted using this free pattern from Owlishly. The patterns for all three sizes were easy to follow and turned out very well and... heart-shaped of course!

So even though the time for hearts has passed, I couldn't resist posting this one!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Self Portrait with Mug

Here's a little mug I finished up yesterday! The pattern came from Ana Paula Rimoli's Amigurumi World, which has been a great sourcebook for learning the basics of crochet and ami-ing (although both Johnny and I had to resort to a youtube video in order to actually figure it out -- learning from pictures skill level down). I love the way she makes the faces on her amis, they have such personality. Mine looks a little bit peaky and hesitant, like he's feeling under the weather.

I've also been having a brief love affair with rounded photo corners. It's something that used to be on my list as an unnecessary touch, but as an experiment it's actually been kind of... charming! Anyway, searching through themed Flickr photo pools has been a great source for finding projects to stay busy with.

That and perpetual organization of my closet, which is small and depressing and missing all of the boxes of clothes currently still waiting for me in Tacoma.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

good day sunshine

It's been fun at home taking pictures of things and working on finding a new job in "this economy." Kind of disheartening use of quotations, isn't it? Maybe with this free time I'll also get better at crocheting -- I'm working on it, anyway, and getting a little faster, producing a few little cute amigurumi. Hopefully my last check comes in the mail soon so I can be less poorish and afford more supplies, hooray!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Corgi Love!

The great cross country move is now over, so hopefully with less stress going on there will be more time to update this blog and all of my internet stuff and generally keep in touch more than I have been able to do for the past while. Everything has been pretty successful and it's pretty nice to be at home for now, warm and well-fed.

There's a lot of snow, but it's dealt with in a reasonable manner. Our corgi has been having a blast exhausting himself by running around in snow as high as he is. He's so tired by the end of the day that his usual midnight bedtime is now not early enough, and he looks at us contemptuously when we're not in bed by 10 PM.