Saturday, April 28, 2012

Paper Review: Book Pages

Time to review another paper, this time I will talk about the joys of taking a book and tearing it to pieces for the use of crafts. Those who are upset by the reuse of books might want to look away now...it will be graphic.

Texture, Color, Size: Book paper comes in a huge variety of sizes, it is all determined by the book itself so that category is a little irrelevant here. Colors come in the standard 'book' color, the slightly gray, the lovely antiqued old book pages, and if you are feeling adventurous...with pictures! The main draw for using book pages is the words, it is what makes it stand out from just regular printer paper. The words (and occasional pictures) give the paper an air of mystery, trying to read the writing between the folds. The texture varies between books as well, newer trade paperback pages are easier to fold because they have not become brittle with age. They are a lot 'pulpier' than most papers I have used and they are very unforgiving with folds...basically if you make a mistake there is no hiding that fold, just think of dog ears on a book.

Crane:
The crane can be... problematic. The smaller the paper (this was made from a 4inch square) the harder it is to manipulate, especially the finer folds, like the nose. It seemed like it was trying to unfold itself. Book paper is a strange paper to use! The cranes you can make with old books are lovely, but very delicate, I made three and two of them tore when I was pulling the wings apart, so there are some complications.

Star: The stars are fun, but you have to make them pretty small (face it, most book pages are not very long)  and using older more brittle pages is just out of the question, they just crumple! After lots of delicate manipulation of the paper you get some really lovely stars. Best suited for jars since they are so delicate, even after a good varnishing.

Minigami: I don't want to do that...ever again! Because the paper is so organic yet delicate, the smaller the sheet of paper you use, I find the more messier the finished result is. Also the smaller the sheet, the less wordage you get, which is my favorite part of using this paper.

Kusudama:
Before I discovered the oh so clever idea of using paperclips to hold the petals while the glue dries...this kusudama was the hardest I had made (also the third so, that could be why) With my origami paper I found I could glue them and set them on my computer and allow the warmth to dry the glue...with book pages I had to hold them until the glue dried making this a very tedious kusudama. When I had finished it turned out to be one of the prettiest kusudamas I have made (I still think that actually) the writing just makes it look fantastic. I recommend using this paper for kusudamas!

Sonobe:
Ah the sonobe, such a lovely design! I have made one of these so far and enjoyed it. The only real downfall is it is easily smushed. Delicate paper books are!

Availability: Books are everywhere! You can find them for free if you are willing to rummage through recycling or on places like freecycle and craigslist. If you know of a specific book you want to make into something...well, there is Amazon. There is a seemingly infinite pile of books in the world! I for one, am still hunting one written in Chinese!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Secret of Stars

I have had lots of people ask me questions about my stars, mainly where I get all the paper to create them. I am finally ready to reveal my secrets!

Secret Number 1
Deviantart has a TON of people who make star paper, free to use! Just search Lucky Star Paper or Origami Star Paper and you get loads of results. I find to reserve ink it is best to get half sheets like this cute one or to crop full sheets.

Secret Number 2
Here is where it gets really fun, especially if you have a photo editing program (I use Paint Shop Pro 8) using a template (this is the one I use) use have what seems like an infinite variety of things you can fill into the 'star' section. Gradients, textures (again, DA is my main source giving you macro shots, paper scans, and unusual color designs) and of course patterns (ditto with DA as a great source of patterns)

It is of course totally possible to scan your own paper or use photos or whatever you like. You can fold the world into a star if you feel so inclined...and have a good photo of it!

Secret Number 3
Paper, of course paper is very important and if you know me...you know I will try to fold anything. You can buy premade paper star strips, using ebay to import them from Hong Kong has been the best option for me so far. But if you don't want to be limited by what you buy you can print them out. Regular printer paper works fine and I find it is really good if you are just starting out. (I will cover more papers that do and do not work in paper reviews to come) Plus it is much cheaper than importing paper...$5 for 200 sheets of printer paper vs $8 for 200 fancy imported sheets. Its not a huge difference, but it is noticeable


All of those (it is a partial shot of about 3,000 stars made in about 2 months time) are made from printer paper. While you do not get the foil, textures, and sparkles of the specialty paper you certainly get variety and vivid colors!

Secret Number 4
Cutting!! The first 1,000 or so stars I cut entirely by hand...not good for my arthritis! After I was unable to hold scissors I bought a paper cutter and it was amazing. I suggest if you are going to do a lot of cutting that you buy one, especially the Trimmer variety (that is the brand I use) I find that the Guillotine variety just made a mess for me. Blades on the trimmer need replacing after about 4,000 stars.

Secret  Number 5
Treating the stars. Sometimes you want to wear them in jewelry or hang them in a garland...you need to treat them or they get mushy. For jewelry stars I use Modge Podge varnish, for garlands I use a Spray Decoupage Gloss by Beacon. Both work well for my purposes.

And lastly a tutorial!
This was not the one I learned from, that came in a pack of Origami paper and has been long lost, but this one is pretty good and very colorful! I hope everyone enjoys my big reveals!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yaki Soba Recipe

When I was young my mother introduced me to a rather delightful dish...Yaki Soba (though at my young age I called it Yaki Sobi) made in the Okinawa style taught to her by her aunt who learned it in Hawaii. Ah tradition...the way I had it was made differently than the recipe I am sharing, this version is more of a mix of what I grew up with and traditional Yaki Soba.

Originally presented to me made with spaghetti, spam, cabbage, bell peppers, onions, loads of garlic, and soy sauce (cheap, easy, and very tasty) my version has a few more ingredients.

Ingredients:
1 package Soba Noodles. (Soba noodles are buckwheat for anyone who did not know)
2 cans light Spam (regular I find makes it a bit too salty)
1 head of Nappa Cabbage
1 bulb of garlic or 10 cloves
1 can baby corn
1 can bean sprouts
1 large bell pepper
1 onion
fresh Ginger to taste (I use a lot, but some of my eaters complain)
1/2lb Snow Peas
Ponzu Sauce
Soy Sauce
Stir Fry Oil
Sesame Seeds

First step is to cook the soba noodles, they take about 3-4 minutes to cook so you need to stay focused on them. I find it is easier to cook them either before or after the stir frying since they take such a short time to cook. After they are strained I find it makes serving them a bit easier if you toss a bit of the stir fry oil on the noodles to keep them from sticking together.

Next, heat the oil and sesame seeds in your wok (or very large pan) once the seeds start to dance toss in the garlic, ginger, and onions and saute them up. Next toss in the sliced up Spam and stir fry that for about a minute, after that add some of the Ponzu and Soy sauce, sorry for no exact measurements but I always eye it up. You want the spam to be coated in the sauce an soak up its flavor without being drowned, stir fry that for about a minute.

Next add the peppers, snow peas, corn, and bean sprouts. Mix them with the Spam and sauces until the peppers are tender but still crisp, add more sauce if needed. At this point you add the cabbage and stir fry until it is just lightly wilted. I usually add more Ponzu sauce at this point.

At this point you are more or less finished! Just place some noodles in a bowl and add some of the stir fry to the top. You can stir fry the noodles in with the veggie/Spam mix, but I find it makes them too mushy.

This recipe makes a large batch which I usually live off of for a couple days, so I would say it could serve 4 with maybe a bit leftover.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Paper Review: Scrapbook Paper

Ah Scrapbook paper...that brightly colorful paper that fills the long aisles in craft stores. So many varieties!!

Texture, Color, Size: This paper is thick...it is between cardstock and printer paper in how thick it is...which of course means it is a pain to fold! You need either very strong fingers or a reliable bone folder if you want to do any really detailed folds. Scrapbook paper comes in a HUGE variety of colors and patterns, and in my opinion that is its biggest appeal.  If you can imagine it, most likely it is out there! Another really nifty thing about this paper is it does not come in one standard texture, true most of it feels and looks like thick paper, but you can get some that have been embossed, have an 'organic' texture, or (and this is my favorite) sparkly. The scrapbook paper does seem to have one overall similarity, its size almost always comes in 12in square sheets which makes it very easy to cut to whatever size you want it to be

Crane:

Ah the crane, one of my favorite things to fold. It is a classic for a reason! This crane was folded from 'organic' feeling scrapbook paper cut into a 5inch square. I find that 4 inches is the smallest size you can use before the crane just becomes a blob. On larger sheets (I have taken an entire 12inch square and craned it up before) the crane forms beautifully...very crisp and defined edges and folds. Scrapbook paper is one of my favorite to fold into cranes.

Star:  *hides under the desk* oh man...folding a star from scrapbook paper is not fun!!! You can take a strip and fold it into the pentagon shape, but when it is time to puff it out and make the points...well, maybe if you have thumbs of pure titanium. I just could not get it to work, the paper was too stiff and if I shortened the strip to a bare minimum length the star just collapsed into a black hole...I mean a crumbled mess. 

Minigami: I find that anything smaller than 2inches made with paper is a nightmare. It is too stiff to get any real folding, plus many of the patterns lose their patterness when it is cut smaller than that. 2 inches is great for modular designs, but anything else turns into a big mess as well.

Kusudama: 

I recently had to make 7 inverted kusudamas out of rose printed scrapbook paper...so I have become very familiar with how it works for this model. The ones I made from the 2 inch paper were a bit of a pain because of the stiffness, but they held together great. The ones made from 4 inch paper were the real show stoppers. Much easier to fold and really showed off the pattern of the paper. I recommend folding scrapbook paper into a kusudama because if you drop it...it is really hard to smash the petals. Score for stiff paper!

Sonobe:

In my opinion this is one of the prettiest Sonobe balls I have made...created from the standard 30 sheets (my standard 2 inches) of sparkly pink faux vellum scrapbook paper. I can also say it was one of the hardest sonobes I have ever made! The paper's stiffness has some major pros and only one con with making sonobes. The con is of course it is really difficult to fold, the pros are this, it is stiff so no matter how many times your throw it at the wall, those points are not going to dent and it will not come apart because the paper's strength really locks the model in place. I find scrapbook paper is my new favorite thing to make sonobe balls out of.

Availability: You can find this stuff everywhere!! Not just craft stores but most big box stores have them as well. Loads of online stores have them, you can even find 'digital' scrapbook paper if you want to print out the patterns. Sheets usually run from 40cent to $1.50 a sheet depending on design and how specialized they are. I have only once bought one of the expensive sheets because...like the goof I am...I crumpled it while trying to put it back into its storage bin. Oops. I have a nice sized tote filled with sheets of this stuff cut into little squares waiting for their appointed project ^_^

(if you want to learn about my reviewing process read this On paper reviewing )

On Paper Reviewing

I love paper, being an origami enthusiast and all...I try to fold whatever I can into something and have stacks of different kinds of paper everywhere. I also love to read reviews on different origami paper...the only problem is most the time that is all these fellow bloggers review...not random paper or paper that was never intended for origami.

So that is where I come in...I am going to review non-origami paper (ok and maybe some origami paper for my own references so I can remember what to buy next time I need paper) using the following criteria:

Texture, Color, Size: I think that is pretty self explanatory. The basic...what the hell is this section
Crane: how does it work for folding cranes
Star: can I fold it into a star without breaking my fingers?
Minigami: my definition of minigami is any model folded with a piece of paper 2inches or less
Kusudama: how does it hold up making a blossom and taking a bit of gluing
Sonobe: how does it hold up being folded into a modular...errr...model
Availability: again, pretty easy to figure out what this means...where can I find these sheets of paper?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

KoA Babbling

I have spent more or less all the free time that I have (aka the time I am not sleeping, doing origami, or making jewelry...or ok, wasting hours on Subeta) playing Kingdoms of Amalur.

First off, lets discuss why I wanted to play it at all. Until my friend Dusty started playing it and I had not heard of it...or I did and just assumed it was another MMORPG and just ignored it. After hearing my mother (who is an avid video game voyeur...seriously if you want an opinion of how something looks in a game but not how to play it, ask her) saying it was awesome I decided to give it a watch at their house. I admit, it looked awesome and pretty fun! I thought I would get it to hold me over to Mass Effect 3 was released but I could not afford dropping another $60 on a game after my preorder...so I waiting. I figured I would get it used after the price dropped and maybe Ben would split the price with me (fat chance) and then ME3 came out. I was there at the midnight release and of course finished the game in a few days...the world wondered where I went...and the ending made me kinda hate fiction for a while. I needed something to bring me back, something that would reawaken my love for story and video games...something that I don't invest years, lots of money, and emotion into...

So I bought KoA off ebay for $38 and decided to immerse myself in good old schlock fantasy! I cannot think of a game (that isn't a MMORPG) that is more schlocky, sure there is Dragon Age but to me they seem more 'good' fantasy (I am thinking as a book comparison...it is like Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn VS Dragonlance...both are good in their way, but I read Dragonlance for the Fantasy and not the characters, story and such like I do the other book series) plus their combat system annoys me, and Fable which for some inexplicable reason I just don't care about at all. Let us break it down into groups, to make my rambling easier.

Story and Characters
I am I think 60 hours into the game...no where near finished with the main plot, finished one faction quest, and have of course done a bajillion side quests, so I am not a perfect opinion. I think what I have uncovered of the main plot so far is solid...not a work of genius but also not bad (also the main villain, Gadflow is evil Winnie the Pooh....WIN!). The faction quest are exciting as hell, I actually got really into the House of Ballads quest and felt a sense of accomplishment. Most of the side quests are so typical...go gather herbs, go kill monsters, go do my laundry because I am too lazy...but eh, fantasy games love their fetch quests.

The voice acting is bloody hilarious! There are a few really good voice actors in the game...but most of them sound like they are extras from Ren Faire that needed money between seasons. It is so campy and BAD that it goes from being annoying to outright hilarious. I imagine my character (a Dokalfar Mage kinda Rogue girly) to have a really thick Cockney accent and it brings me great pleasure. I kinda wish I would have named her Eliza!

And speaking of Dokalfar...why do I feel like RA Salvatore only agreed to work on this project if he could include his beloved Dark Elves. I mean is there a work he has done or been involved in that do not have the Dark Elves in them? I don't think it is bad, it is just his calling card!

Combat
Oooh the combat, so much fun! Being a Mage and all means I get to use chackrams and big sticks (true I can use other weapons, but I don't really want to) and have some awesome combos. The real beauty of the combat system, other than my love for things that are not turn based, is you can make it as combo and tactics heavy as you want...or when you just feel like killing and not concentrating, pushing the attack buttons wildly! I love the spells, usually in fantasy games I do not play the Mage, I go for the sword-swinging bad ass, but the spells in this game are not only pretty to look at they are really easy to implement into melee attacks. Plus you can summon your own Skeletor, and you cannot go wrong there.

Scenery 
Ok, this might be the real reason I play KoA. I am very much so a visuals whore and this game pays up. The scenery is beautiful and the detail is astounding! Walking through the various forests you find mushrooms tucked away in corners and moss growing on stones. The way they have the lighting makes it seem like late summer mixed with that strange fuzzy glow you get when dreaming (at least I do) where the details are crisp but still seem so surreal. My only complaint is that the floor plan of a lot of the buildings are almost identical...that is it, my only complaint about the visuals.

Well all this babbling makes me want to go play it some more...

An Intro to Me

Since this is a shiny new blog I figured I would introduce myself with one of those fun 'getting to know you' type prompts. So...enjoy. (If you read it all...I will be super impressed!)


1. What time did you get up this morning? 3pm...I am ever so nocturnal at the moment, which is good because the stars have been awesome! The moon is right next to Mars and Regulus and Venus and Jupiter are so bright!

2. Diamonds or pearls? Neither of those are my favorite, but pearls are better 

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Hugo, it was alright not bad or good, I didn't feel cheated out of my $2

4. What's your favorite TV show? Either Mythbusters or Ghost Adventures. The only shows I watch regularly (especially now that I finished Bleach)

5. What did you have for breakfast this morning? Starry Night Tea (I recommend) and some shortbread I baked the night before.

6. What's your favorite cuisine? I love Japanese food, the combination of clean flavors and artful looking dishes makes it a fave. Closely followed by Chinese, Korean, and Indian 

7. What foods do you dislike? I probably dislike yogurt more than anything else...because of ORGANISMS!! I know it is so silly, but the idea of putting bacteria into my body to live there (even if it is healthy and I need it to help me) really freaks me out. I expect organisms to be killed by my broken immune system. 

8. What is your favorite chip flavor? Salt!

9. What's your favorite CD at the moment? The End of Days by Abney Park

10. What kind of car do you drive? I don't drive

11. Favorite sandwich? I like turkey with provolone and sprouts ^_^

12. What characteristics do you despise? Ignorance in all its forms 

13. What is your favorite type of clothing? hats

14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation.Where? Right now, I really want to ramble on a beach

15. What color is your bathroom? some old ugly greenish wallpaper (apartments do not give you a lot of changing of the wall colors)

16. Favorite brand of clothing? Cheap Thrift Store...it is a brand :P

17. Where would you retire to? someplace artsy and warm

18. Favorite time of the day?
Late at night between 1-3am

19. What was your most memorable birthday? two years ago my mom and boyfriend threw me a Disney Villains themed party, it was so epic

20. Where were you born? Augusta, GA

21. Favorite sport to watch? I actually kinda hate sports

22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you? umm...not sure what this means, but ok

23. Person you expect to send it back first? I no understand these questions!!

24. What fabric detergent do you use? the cheapest nonscented organic hypoallergenic stuff

25. Were you named after anyone? no...I was almost named after a constellation though


26. Do you wish on stars? no, I make wishing stars

27. When did you last cry? I cried in frustration yesterday, it was one of those moments

28. Do you like your handwriting?
I love it...it is totally illegible and terrible and it makes me happy

29. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? I would like to think so, I am a very aloof friend because I am sick so often, but when I am feeling ok I think I am a good friend

30. Are you a daredevil? I am in really stupid ways that almost always end up me getting hurt


31. Do looks matter? that depends...I am not going to buy something if I think it looks like crap, I won't turn away a friend if I don't like the way they look. But I admit I am kinda shallow at first with romance...but if the person I am in love with gets disfigured or something then I won't care

32. How do you release anger?
I rant, I vent, I kill things in video games, I throw pillows or non breakables, and then I make things. Usually in that order. 

34. What were your favorite toys as a child? Books, my piles of stuffed animals (I still love those things) all of my dinosaurs until they got washed away in a flood (irony!!) and my firework kaleidoscope 

35. What class in High School was totally useless? PE, it was useless to me especially with my chronic health problems. Some days I felt to crappy to do sports! I still think it would have been awesome to open up the gym and weight lifting equipment for student use during study halls. 

37 Favorite movies? I'm gonna be honest, movies do not drive my life as it seems to do with so many. Like most things I use movies as background noise to entertain me while I do crafts. I cannot remember the last time I paid attention to just a movie 


38. What are your nicknames? I still get called Amanda Panda some times, and Mandy Pandy too. Ben has lots of sweet names he calls me, but those are not really nicknames :P

39. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? no, I have slipper type shoes, sandals, and giant zip up fuzzy boots...so no ties.

40. Do you think that you are strong? physically, no not at all. Emotionally I think I am, but I always strive to be stronger (and fix my warped perception of strength)

41. What's your favorite ice cream flavor? Pistachio...or the oh so rare and unbelievably good French lavender 

42. What are your favorite colors?
every shade of blues, greens, and purples. 

43. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
my piece of garbage body, it gets in the way of me doing so many things!

44. Who do you miss the most?
I miss Rita (Ben's sister) and probably won't see her till I move to KC in June...then I will see her all the time but miss all my family and friends that I lived close to

45. Do you want everyone you sent this to, to send it back to you? is this one of those old fashioned email chain letters...weird

46 What color pants are you wearing? black torn up barely holding together cotton pants. I don't care if they are holey, they are comfy as hell

47. Last thing you ate? my homemade shortbread...yumm


48. Favorite song? oh I hate picking one!!! Right now, Beautiful Decline by Abney Park

49. If you were a CRAYON what color would you be? Teal!! because it is my favorite color...no deep 'it is the color of my SOUL' stuff...its just my favorite...deal with it!

50. Last person you talked to on the phone? Ben! I told him to come home that the girly night was over and it was safe to come back :P

51. What is the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? I love noses, best part of a face 


52. Favorite drink?
tea...all the time! Lapsang Souchong might be my favorite 

53. Do you wear contacts?
no, but I need to get my eyes tested soon and get glasses. I can't wear contacts 

54. Favorite day of the year?
so many choices! I will not choose a holiday...too easy. I chose that day in the middle of May when summer really starts and the storms are AMAZING

55. Endings happy or sad? depends, a sad ending can have an amazing impact but happy can make you feel all fuzzy. It needs to fit the work of fiction (and not be the ending to Mass Effect 3...bitter!!)

56. Winter/summer?
Summer, no contest

57. Hugs OR Kisses?
who...is giving them? 

58. What is Your Favorite Dessert?
Bird's Custard

59. What Book(s) are you reading?
I am trying to re-read the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series by Tad Williams but my head it too much in gaming world and I get distracted

60. What is on your mouse pad?
I don't have one! Laptop is a touch mouse...thingy...my old mouse pad was covered in my doodles


61. What Did You Watch Last night on TV?
I watched myself play Kingdom of Amalur...blasted Traveler's Faction Quest, all this going and stealing things is not as fun as killing things. I want to do the House of Ballads Quests again :(

62. Favorite Smells?
my cats in the sunlight, apples, jasmine flowers, and sun dried laundry


63. Stones or Beatles?
Beatles...I never liked the Stones, thought they were mediocre...plus Mick Jagger is one scary looking mofo

64. What's the furthest you've been from home?
Minnesota...paradise...except for it being BLOODY COLD!!!