Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to code a blog button

Buttons are images that other people can share on their blog, usually in the sidebar, to link straight to blogs or websites they like and want their readers to know about. These past couple of days I've been having fun making new buttons for this blog.

I made some with my iPhone:

And I made a whole bunch with Inkscape:


It has taken me a while to figure it all out perfectly and delete unneeded parts of code, but I ended up with an HTML code that really works well for me. It allows me to show a message to people who hover over the image and most importantly to adjust sizes quickly without resizing and reuploading images. 

If anyone else wants to make a button but doesn't know how to code it yet, here you go:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sewing again!

Look at what I've been doing (very carefully while wearing a thumb splint, wrist brace and tennis elbow strap) today!
I need to get back on 'my horse'; I need to and desperately want to start sewing again. But I must admit I'm a bit scared, because when I started (also very carefully) this little butterfly a few weeks ago, I ended up in the ER two days later, high on vicodin and percocet and experiencing a full-blown panic attack before the doctor injected three cortisone shots into my arm and wrist.Then my arm didn't hurt anymore but it was also useless for more than a week.

My arm is feeling a lot (!) better now, I've started physical therapy again, and it's time to try sewing again, I just hope there will be no consequences this time. All I hope to end up with this time is a cute little green butterfly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Signs of spring

It's been really rainy and really sunny lately, real spring weather I'd say. I love the numerous rainbows this weather is creating.
Rainbows
Signs of spring are sprouting everywhere. Previously bare tree branches are starting to show little green buds and cherry blossoms are popping up everywhere too.
Cherry Blossoms and Pagoda
I wasn't really expecting to witness a seasonal change here, though. Especially since the temperature surprisingly reached 27°C (81°F) a few days in early February. I just assumed the weather in this part of the world didn't follow the rules of the each season. But spring is definitely in the air!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Starbucks

I love Starbucks, always have, ever since I first discovered it in London more than 10 years ago. It's rather difficult not to love Starbucks when you love to drink coffee all day long. The concept of take-away coffee was pretty new to me then and I loved it! Now I could drink coffee while walking on the street. Awesome. I also love their new simplified logo:
Starbucks is also special to Yasu and me, as a couple. I remember the day that our relationship went from "people who live in the same dorm but prefer to ignore each other" to "people who are special friends". It was in 2004 at Starbucks in Emory, Yasu was studying there and I was supposed to do some customer behavior research for my marketing class, but the place was packed and the only empty seat was at Yasu's table. Neither of us got our school work done, instead all we did was talk for hours and get to know each other. It was our unofficial but magical first date.

YakiniQ

Oh, how we love Korean barbeque. We loved it in Japan, we loved it most in South-Korea, and now we love it in the States. Galbi, bulgogi, kimchi and chap chae, we had all this delicious stuff and more tonight!
Korean Food
We had to wait for a table for a about 50 minutes, but that wasn't a problem because we had a lot of catching up to do with Bradley and Hannah anyway.
YakiniQ Fans
We had this all-you-can-eat do-it-yourself barbeque meal YakiniQ in Japantown, Korean barbeque is called yakiniku in Japan, and we know it wasn't the last time we dine there. We already have plans to return there with some Japanese friends and I know as soon as my mother sees this blog post, she'll be asking to go there when she and her husband visit us in two months. And that's just fine by me!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I wish I could create him from felt (right now)...

I think this angry chick from the new movie HOP looks so adorable!

I wish my arm had completely healed already (it is improving, yay!) so that I could create him from felt! It will have to wait but I'm looking forward to it already. This movie looks pretty interesting, my husband and I are definitely going to go see it. We also 'believe' in the Easter Bunny in my country, unfortunately ours doesn't have the ability to poop jelly beans though. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tools and drugs

So yesterday I showed you my toolkit. Things keep being added to it and I actually have forgotten to photograph some items, like my green latex theraband for physical therapy and Yasu's baseball for painful spine massages against the wall.

In January the doctor officially diagnosed me with Lateral Epicondylitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow, and De Quervain Syndrome, or thumb tendinitis as I like to call it. My arm and wrist had been hurting for months before I realized it was caused by my constant handstitching and before I finally got diagnosed.
The doctor told me there and then that the most common treatment was an injection with the steroid cortisone. But he told me that cortisone is pretty serious and you can only get it 3 times in your life in the same spot before the muscle atrophies or something scary like that, so he wanted me to try physical therapy first. I wholeheartedly agreed, because the whole injection idea had me panicked and I'm extremely scared of needles. I had also just finished taking 5 pills a day for almost 4 months for my stomach problem, and I didn't want to burden my body with more scary chemicals if it wasn't really necessary.

So I started weekly physical therapy: strengthening exercises with the theraband, ultrasound heat, painful massages, and most importantly and disappointingly a 6 week break from sewing. I got a hot and cold gel pack for my thumb/wrist and elbow. It can be made hot in the microwave for heat therapy and cold in the freezer for treating pain and swellings.
Treatments and my sewing break were improving my De Quervain's and I got this thumb splint to prevent my thumb from making certain movements while sewing that would make my De Quervain's reappear.
Even though one problem seemed to be taken care of my elbow was only getting worse and I was experiencing newly acquired nerve pains all over my right arm, and those were making life (especially sleeping) a lot less comfortable. My physical therapist was advising me to go and get a cortisone injection and combine it with more physical therapy, I still didn't really like the steroid idea so he asked me to get a second opinion from my regular physician.

The day before my appointment with the doctor I tried some light and short sewing again, using the thumb splint and being extremely careful. It went well and I was so happy to be sewing again... But during the night my elbow and arm started hurting, like it never had before. It was excruciating. Everything I did hurt, even sitting down and writing, all I could do was whine and cry.

The doctor told me to get cortisone injections, and the pain was so unbearable that I didn't even want to protest anymore. He also told me to get a tennis elbow strap to put pressure on my elbow, which helps a lot more than I thought it could.
He also prescribed me much-needed painkillers, he wanted to give me Ibuprofen, but my stomach doctor told me to never take those again (and my stomach hasn't healed completely yet), so he gave me Vicodin, a strong narcotic (which doctor's in my country aren't even allowed to prescribe) to help me survive the pain until my appointment with a hand doctor.

But the Vicodin didn't really do the trick, it just made the pain a little less and only for a short time, problem was that I could only take 4 pills a day. That night I sat in bed (because lying down was too painful) whining, crying, waiting for time to pass to be allowed to take another Vicodin and trying to catch some sleep. Yasu and I both had a terrible night of no sleep.

Waiting a week for the appointment with a hand doctor wasn't an option and my health insurance agent advised me to go to the emergency room. They gave me Percocet (even stronger than Vicodin), which made me incredibly stoned, because I'd taken a Vicodin two hours earlier (they knew), I hadn't eaten or slept and I have low blood pressure. It made the pain bearable but it also made me giggly, talkative, superbly dizzy, and cry (not sure why). It was an interesting experience, but I decided not to fill the Percocet prescription they gave me, it's too strong and too scary a medicine for me. I did get the Tylenol the hand doctor told me to get for when the pain I'm trying to kill would be too weak for a Vicodin.
The hand doctor was very clear and positive, he told me I needed three cortisone injections, one below my thumb and two in my elbow. I had a huge panic attack when he made me lie down and showed me the needles. I couldn't breath and couldn't stop crying, and I wished hard that Yasu was there with me and not in class like he was at the time. The doctor suggested me to come back the next day with Yasu, but I knew I couldn't stand the anticipation which would make everything worse.

So I did what helped me in the past at the dentist, I turned on my iPod and focused on the music and sang along (very badly). And the doctor went ahead with the very painful shots which made my singing louder and more off key but a couple of minutes later he was done! And the effect was immediate! The Novocaine in the shot made my arm numb and so much less painful and me happy.

He gave me a huge bag of ice to hold against the injection areas and told me to rest and start physical therapy again next week. My elbow is extremely stiff and he says I may need another injection for that in a month, I hope not. He also says that I'll be back to sewing soon... I truly hope so.

One more tool for my kit is the wrist brace the ER gave me. To make sure my arm rests well, especially at night, because I tend to cramp my hand in weird positions during the night, which makes the morning pain even worse. Sometimes I wear both braces and strap at the same time and it make my arm look like a robot arm ;).
Right now, I'm doing everything with my left hand, like eating, writing, typing, brushing teeth and hair, getting dressed, etc. It's difficult and sometimes frustrating but my right arm won't bend well and can't be used for now, so poor Yasu has to do almost everything for me. But most importantly, what I can do is sleep, with a little help from Vicodin, my strap and wrist brace. And so can Yasu :). We slept so incredibly well and long last night! It was like heaven.

This could have been an expensive condition, luckily we have excellent health insurance from Japan that's paying for everything. Not just the steroid injections or doctor's fees, no literally everything, even for my over-the-counter Tylenol, my braces and my bi-weekly bus trips to the physical therapist. So it's all good.

My toolkit

My tennis elbow and thumb tendinitis have been making things a tad difficult for me lately, especially when it comes to sewing and doing things on the computer. Things escalated this week and now my right hand and arm are totally useless, which can be quite challenging when you want to get dressed, eat, brush your teeth or write... I'm lucky to have a very helpful husband and a nice toolkit to help me manage life right now :).

Check back soon for more details on my being stoned in the ER and the panic attack right before my three cortisone injections earlier today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rainbow cupcakes

So when you overfill your cupcake papers, you will end up with overgrown cupcakes like these:

But aren't they all lovely and colorful? I smeared some frosting on top, and then my rainbow cupcakes were done:

I say that like that was an easy thing to do, but the cupcakes were exceptionally fragile (I wonder if that was because of those container egg whites), and when I tried taking out the overgrown cupcakes from the baking pan some of the tops broke off. Which was unfortunate but those broken cupcakes did show how pretty they were on the inside:

The fragile cupcakes made frosting very difficult as well. Just a little push with the frosting spoon was enough to break off parts of cupcake. But as you can see I did end up with several pretty cupcakes and they taste pretty good too! I made more than enough to share, so if you want one just come and get it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rainbow batter

I'm not really good in the kitchen, so when I try out things I need all the help I can get. As you can see Betty Crocker was very helpful with this project:
The recipe on the back of the box just called for egg whites, but I'm not good at separating the yolk from the white, so I bought a carton of egg whites at the supermarket and used that instead. I made the batter and divided it over six bowls:
I added tiny amounts of food coloring (this stuff is really strong) to each bowl to create these six different colors:
I spooned the batter into cupcake papers. You're only supposed to fill the cupcake papers for about 75% but I wanted all six colors in each cupcake, so I ended up overflowing the papers with way too much batter:
I was already in love with all the colors at this point, and was hoping that they would still be pretty after their stint in the oven. Come back tomorrow to see how these cupcakes turned out!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What's baking?

This week I'm taking "What's cooking?" literally and I'm really cooking something, or rather baking. I'm trying to make some rainbow cupcakes right now. I'll blog my cakemix to cupcake soon! Here's a preview:

For Japan

Friday, March 11, 2011

Devastation in Japan

Last night before we went to bed we read about the huge 8.9 earthquake in Japan, it had just happened and the Japanese news reported two deaths. It was already bad news, but this morning we woke up to this:
Absolutely terrible. I have been watching, reading and following the news ever since I got up and I have contacted my friends in Japan to make sure they are all okay (so far so good). My heart is breaking for Japan, the images and screams in the videos make me cry. So many people have died, so many houses and businesses have been destroyed. And it's not over, Japan is still experiencing aftershocks and completely unrelated quakes even, like the 6.6 quake in Nagano a couple of hours ago. I'm worried another quake will hit Osaka soon. Let's all hope for the best, my thoughts are with all of you in Japan.

Home haircut disaster

After that successful haircut I gave Yasu with the Flowbee, I got confident and impulsive. My hair was so long and it was just getting in the way of everything, so two nights ago I decided to try it on myself... Yeah, bad idea. Of course, my hair was way too long and way too soft to be cut properly with that thing. I even helped it by cutting about 15 inches off with scissors but basically it was an immensely stupid idea.
There was no fixing it, I ended up with completely uneven hair, chunks out of it in really funny places, but my hair was shorter. Obviously, I was really upset and wondering what had come over me an hour earlier, but my sweet husband told me I was still beautiful. "Thanks darling", but I already knew I was going to a professional salon the next day to fix it.

So yesterday I told the hairdresser to cut whatever he thought would look good on me. I wasn't really pleased with it though. I mean of course it was better than what I had done to it, but to me it was just so-so. I know I should have said something to the hairdresser, but for some reason I never do. Too shy, too polite, too stupid, I'm not sure, but it's a disease I've had for many years. I often end up going to another salon for a second haircut a few days later to fix this problem. Yeah, there's a reason I always let my hair grow long, I'm not good at getting my hair cut the way I like.

But this morning I got to style my hair myself and I'm happy to report that I do like it now:
I will not be going to another salon for that customary second haircut like I planned last night. I'll probably let it grow really long again before I get another haircut, but for now my hair is nice and short and no longer in the way! 

Seven Secrets

I had so much fun playing and seeing others play the Handwriting Game last week, that I'm participating another game of tag this week. Anzouya tagged me for this one, and asked me to share seven secrets with my blog readers. So here we go:

1. I'm a tireless perfectionist. I spend way too much time redoing things, because I can't stand it when things are not 100% consistent and perfect.

2. My favorite way of getting up in the morning is after at least an hour of using the snooze function on my iPhone. It drives my husband crazy because he's one of those lucky people who can wake up at the first buzz of his alarm, and one of those unlucky people who can't go back to sleep once they've awoken.

3. I love mathematics. Wish I had studied that in university instead of getting my Master in Business.

4. I have no sense of fashion. I never wear make-up and only go shopping for clothes and shoes once or twice a year, and I do not enjoy it.

5. Talking about clothes, I never separate clothes during the wash. I also tumble dry everything and never iron our clothes.

6. I love, love, love organizing but I hate cleaning.

7. My perfect sandwich: buttered untoasted dark Dutch bread with a slice of Dutch Gouda cheese and Nutella.

Now I get to tag seven people to share their secrets: Ashley from Fancy Designs, Brandi from Random Gypsy, Chrissy from Hoot Designs, Jamie from Crafty is Awesome, Kelly from Bad Hausfrau, Kelly from Simply Kelly Designs, and Lisa Lee from Pieces of Me.

I hope you all tell us seven of your (embarrassing) secrets! And anybody else who wants to play, you don't need my tag to tell us your secrets. Share a link in the comments, I will want to read everybody's secrets!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tinysea interviewed me

This week is a little crazy, and I totally forgot to mention that the lovely Lauren and Wendy from Tinysea posted an interview they did with me, yesterday. They are my Indie Business classmates who also enjoy interviewing other crafty people on Wednesdays! I hope they'll answer my Eleven Questions someday soon!


Hop on over to their blog to check it out. Their questions were quite challenging but I did my best. And please don't tease me about the clothes-shopping thing!

Another birthday

There are so many people and all of them have birthdays once a year! Today was Bradley's and we went to a sushi bar near school to celebrate that. We were really happy Bradley chose a Japanese sushi bar for the occasion, because we were in need of a fix of Japanese food!
We had some delicious sushi, tofu, salt-baked mackerel, octopus and Yasu had his much beloved katsu-don (fried pork, onion and egg over rice). Without a doubt, food is what we miss most about Japan! I also had some umeshu (plum wine) and the waitresses talked to me in Japanese and I understood them and answered them! Succes.
The food pictures were a bit dark, so when I tried taking pictures of the lovely people at the table I used flash and the pictures were too bright. Conclusion, my Hipstamatic app is not suitable for evening pictures.
Samantha (Anna Leah's roommate), Bradley, Yasu, me, Hannah & Anna Leah (Hannah's younger sister).

Monday, March 07, 2011

Flowbee

Living on a student's budget one needs to be frugal. So we've purchased a Flowbee so we can cut Yasu's hair at home. One of his classmates has one and told Yasu all about it. We looked it up online and the website looked a bit suspicious, especially since all the pictures they use are from the eighties or something and that just doesn't look good anymore. But after watching some videos on Youtube of happy customers using it and the raving reviews on Amazon, we decided to go for it. 
It arrived today! We were anxious to try it out but weren't sure it would work with our little and quite weak dirt devil. The manual says it needs at least an 8 amp vacuum, and ours is only 1.25 amp, but we're pretty stubborn and tried anyway, and it worked!
The dirt devil sucks the hair up into the cutting device and the attached spacers make sure all the hair gets cut at the same length. The vacuum also sucks up all the cut hair right leaving you with no mess at all! Yasu's hair is pretty thick and was pretty long when we started so it took me about an hour (guess this would have been quicker with a stonger vacuum) but I did it, I cut Yasu's hair at home and it looks good. Actually this Flowbee haircut is the best haircut he's gotten since we got to the States! 
Now he can have his hair cut more frequently so it will never be that long again, which means quicker haircuts, because the long hair was the hardest to cut. And he will never be covered in hundreds of itchy hairs after a visit to the hair dresser again, and spread them all over the apartment, I really hated that, I could never understand why hair dressers here don't use some kind of special dirt devil to vacuum the customer after a haircut. And most importantly those hair dressers will never be able to give him a bad haircut again that make his head look like an upside down pyramid.

And this is what he looked like this morning with his hair all gelled up, handsome and happy! 
It went so well, I'm seriously thinking of doing this to myself...

My first pdf pattern!!

I'm so happy! I finally finished my first PDF pattern! It doesn't even matter to me that I didn't make my February deadline for this. I started working on this in September and it was so much work, mostly on the computer, that I kept procrastinating. So when my physical therapist told me I needed that break from sewing, I knew it was time to finish it. I can't believe I did it!

Before being able to put it in my Etsy shop I had one more struggle with Adobe left, because it refuses to properly display PDFs created on a Mac. I sent the PDF to Yasu's Windows computer and was shocked and frustrated to see what Adobe did to my hard work and my pretty vector images. It took me a couple of hours but I figured out a workaround via iPhoto which satisfied me. Pfew.

My PDF pattern and tutorial is nine pages long and includes a printable pattern template, a materials and tools list, a step by step picture guide (completely sewn by hand), and stitches guide.

I'm really happy with the end result, and I'm definitely going to make more patterns and tutorials. Just hope they don't take as long as this one...