Friday, January 25, 2013

Photoshopped new business cards

I'm almost out of business cards, but I've been procrastinating on ordering new ones. I don't just want to reorder my old style of cards; I've had it since 2009 and I want something new. I always order minicards from Moo, because they are simply awesome. And when I got an email telling me everything is 25% off until Sunday, I finally got to work on designing some new business cards. 

This meant finally trying out the free Photoshop Elements that came with my new Bamboo Tablet. I know that software can be used to do the most amazing things, I'm not there yet, but I'm still pretty pleased with the design for the back of my cards:
I knew I wanted my black and white logo on the fron of my cards but I also wanted a splash of color. I love color (no surprise there, I'm sure) and it's impossible to pick a favorite. Thankfully, Moo allows a different image for each of your cards, so I came up with twenty different versions. Which color is your favorite? I'm torn between light green, blue and eighteen others!
I like to use stickers on my packaging, so I also ordered a batch of matching stickers:
So, now I'm off to go sit next to mailbox and wait for the new goodies to arrive.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dino-creatures

I've been experimenting. It's fun.

I've been making larger plushies. One huge owl keychain with loads of scraps and even two huggables with safety eyes instead of buttons, because they were gifts for a child and a kitty.

My favorite new thing to experiment with are dragonlike dino-spines.

Wonder what'll come of this experimentation, but for now I'm back to making odd couples of finger puppets for a mini Valentine craft fair. That's fun too!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two new licensed CA drivers

Yep, we passed. Yay!

After some serious studying (and a lot of true to form procrastination) of California’s rules and laws of the road, we took our written exams last Wednesday. We had appointments so everything went very smoothly and quickly at the DMV. We’d done a bunch of practice tests at home, so I wasn’t worried. But Yasu was a tad nervous and very relieved after we both finished and passed.
Next was planning the behind-the-wheels tests.

First, you need an appointment; you can’t just show up for a driving exam. All Bay Area DMVs are booked solid until the end of January, except the one in Walnut Creek. For some reason it has a very wide array of available exam slots. Perfect for us and our hurry to get Yasu a valid driver's license again.

Also, one needs a car with the proper insurance. We don’t have a car, and we couldn’t rent a car with Yasu’s name on the contract as an insured driver due to his newly expired Japanese license. Luckily we have a lot of friends with cars and after some asking around we found one that was willing to sacrifice her day with us at the Walnut Creek DMV.
This time Yasu wasn’t too worried, and I was more than a tad nervous! Thankfully, we did get to practice a bit before our exams. We even did some parallel parking on a very busy road with the occasional dangerous driver (not us).

The actual driving exam was easy. Almost ridiculously easy compared to the Belgian driving exam I did a long time ago. And the best part was that there was none of that horrible parallel parking this time! We did do some parallel backing, but even I can do that easily and confidently.
In hindsight, the exams were easy and nothing to stress about, still I was so happy to be done with them! I now have two driver’s licenses, an American and a Dutch one, yet no car to enjoy my double driving rights in...

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Babysitting

It's no secret I'm baby crazy. If we were somewhat settled somewhere in the world, I would very likely already be a mom. But for now I still have to be patient, so I just go around loving other people's babies.

Today our friends, the new parents, went for a movie and left Yasu and I to babysit little Sam. Yay! 

I had been so excited ever since they asked us a few days ago, and it was all I hoped for. I absolutely loved taking care of this little angel.

I also really enjoyed seeing Yasu with Sam. He got to love on Sam, take him for an evening walk through the neighborhood, and even got to practice his diaper-changing skills after two big poops and he did so well! He's going to be such a lovely dad to our kids.

The boys also got to play with the ukelele today. Sam seemed to really enjoy being serenaded by Yasu, it kept him fascinated and quiet for a really long time.

Then it was time for Sam to show Yasu how one plays a ukelele properly. I think Yasu learned a lot.

Hours flew by and I was actually a little dissapointed when our friends came back from their movie, because we were having so much fun with little Sam.

But I'm sure our friends will need another break soon, and I will jump at the chance to babysit again!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Time to get an American driver's license

I’ve had my driver’s license since 1998. At the time, my family lived in Belgium, so mine was a Belgian driver’s license. When I moved back to the Netherlands in 2006, I simply handed in my Belgian driver’s license and it was replaced with a Dutch one. I didn’t have to take any kind of test, not even a written one, which I why I’m still not sure about traffic laws in my own country. In Japan, I basically didn’t drive. So there was no need for a Japanese license, besides my Dutch license was still valid.

Now we live in the States. Yasu’s Japanese license expires next week and it cannot be renewed from here, so he’s going to get his American license this month. My Dutch one is still valid but I’ve decided to go with him and also get an American license. Unfortunately, here we can’t simply swap our old home-country licenses for a shiny new American one. So we’ll have to take all the tests again, from scratch.

Shouldn’t be a problem you say? Perhaps. If not for that evil parallel parking stuff, it petrifies me, it’s criminal, it should be banned. I suck at it. After passing my behind-the-wheels exam, I conveniently forgot about parallel parking and avoided it like the plague for years. Yes, a person can have a happy driving-life for more than 14 years and never parallel park. There’s always an easier place to park around, just keep searching and you’ll find it.

But now I’ll have to do it again, and during a driving exam no less, with an examiner there and everything. The thought alone is already making me anxious.

Luckily, I practiced parallel parking when I was home in November with Guido. Since I had a sneaking suspicion an American driving exam was in my future. I didn’t expect it to be this quick though, yet the sooner the better, now that I can still kind of remember what we practiced. Still, I’m mega-nervous. But first I have to pass the written exam.

We’ve made appointments at the DMV for Wednesday, in an effort to decrease waiting time, since lines there are notoriously long. So now we’re busy studying the California laws and rules of the road.


It’s not too difficult, but there are a lot of details to remember. The miles/feet thing keeps confusing me, I constantly use my converter app to know what that means in kilometers and meters; but I’m not allowed to use iPhone apps during the exam, of course.

Well, I better get back to my studies, which makes me feel like I’m 17 again, and do some sample tests to see whether the information is sticking in this 32-year-old brain.

Back to the dancefloor

Today was SambaFunk's first class of the year, and it was busy:
No doubt this happens in all workout classes in the month of January, when people are still very motivated to do something with their get-fit-resolutions for the new year. I must admit it's a bit too crowded for comfort, but hey it would be nice if all these people stick around and join in the Carnaval parade later this year.
After way too many weeks of absence due to my month-long trip to the Netherlands and holiday craft fairs, I was very happy to be back in class again and to dance with all my SambaFunk brothers and sisters. And as you can see, so was Yasu!

Today was the first Sunday of the month, which is when we show our colors. Purple is Theo's favorite color and therefore the official SambaFunk color. Don't we all look beautiful in purple?!

Soon San Francisco classes will start again as well! We were so sad when the studio closed where we used to dance in SF, but Theo has found a new studio and I can't wait to be SambaFunkin' twice a week again. Especially since it will be Carnaval before we know it!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New Year's challenges

A brand new year. 

That kind of snuck up on me. There were so many more things I wanted to do and accomplish in 2012. Why do days, weeks, and months pass by so quickly? I always feel like I’m catching up. 

In an effort to take charge of my time and to turn my ideas into actual projects, I’ve made a list of goals for 2013. I have made New Year’s resolutions before, but I never wrote them down nor taken them seriously. But this time, I will! So here we go. 

1. Be more flexible 
My obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (not to be confused with OCD) leads me to be very perfectionistic. Honestly, I like my perfectionism but it makes me very inefficient, which is why I always feel time flies at turbospeed. I also experience an uncomfortable amount of stress when situations or people don’t follow my (unwritten and only-known-to-me) rules. I will do my very best to be more flexible in all aspects of life, so I can be more productive and happier. 

2. Be more aware 
I want to appreciate and enjoy daily experiences to the fullest. So I will try to be more aware of: how things taste; how I relate to my husband, my family and my friends; how life in a foreign country and culture teaches me things about myself and the world; how creating makes me feel satisfaction; how dancing makes me feel alive. 

3. Blog every week 
I love blogs; I love having my own blog to record my adventures. It’s great to go through old blog posts and go down a very well-illustrated memory lane. I will get back to regular blogging. Every week, I will blog about something current and I will blog a flashback post. I have yet to share a lot of fun memories. 

4. Dance in the Carnaval Grand Parade 
Last year, I joined SambaFunk a few weeks before Carnaval is celebrated in San Francisco. I passed down the opportunity to dance with them in the Grand Parade, because it scared me a little. Instead, I cheered them on from the sidelines and completely regretted not dancing down the streets with them. This year I will not make the same mistake! 

5. Publish a pattern book 
I recently purchased a Wacom Tablet to make digital drawing easier. This year, I’m going to use it to create more patterns, and when I have enough I will publish a pattern book. 

This is not an easy list for me, but that’s the whole point, right? I challenge myself to achieve these goals; they are important to me and well worth the effort. 

Yasu’s challenge for today was to cook one of his favorite Japanese winter dishes: oden. He succeeded fabulously, and I’m sure his wife will request him to cook this again in the near future.