Category: Real Life


For those that celebrate, Happy Easter!  Now that I live across the country from my family and friends, the holidays have gotten a little lonely for me.  Phone conversations just cannot replace dying eggs with my younger sister, playing hide and seek around the backyard, and getting together with my extended family to eat good food and sweets!  This year, J. and I are going to go get ourselves a ham and make some devilled eggs to “celebrate” in between the reading that I need to do for my meeting tomorrow. It is not nearly as festive, but it is just going to have to do.

When I was a little girl, my mom always looked at the holidays as a time to create.  I cannot even count the amount of craft kits she used to bring home for us to make gifts for friends or decorations for the house.  Origami decorations are one of my personal favorites and so I folded a few of these bunnies from the water-bomb base to decorate the apartment.  The little guy in the photo is about to attack his Easter egg M&M in my front yard.  I made a couple to hide near J.’s desk for when he comes home from work as a little surprise!

They are *very* easy to make and here is an online video that outlines the process.  This one is a great project to do with the kids to keep them busy if you are anything like my mother!

Happy Easter!

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Happy Anniversary: 7 Years Strong!

Although I usually do not share too much of my personal life on here, today is a really special day for me.  March 15th, 2010 marks my seventh anniversary with my partner.  We met my senior year of highschool and we are still together, going strong (how many people get to say that they are still with their high school sweetheart?)  We have survived so many trials and tribulations together including separation when I was studying abroad for one year, a hectic and frustrating move to California, the loss of loved pets (Sunny, Fat Cat R.I.P.), and the adoption of new ones (my girls! – Ame, Sushi, and Miso).  Living on the other side of the country can feel alienating, but we have had each other every step of the way which makes it all bearable.  And hey…  Maybe we have grown to like California just a little (although we would never say it out loud!)

Jon is the patient person behind me when I am grading (or writing) papers, who always finds the time to proofread for me no matter how late I am up writing.  He has been my go-to man for shipping packages (and if you have received any origami from me, chances are it got to you on time thanks to Jon!).  He has endured living with an apartment covered in paper scraps and abandoned folded creations, and yet always finds the time to go to the craft store with me to buy more.  I do not think that I could do what I do without him, either professionally or creatively.

So today is my day to reflect on the past and to think of the future.  I cannot believe it has been seven years…  It absolutely blows my mind.  We have both changed (and aged!), our interests have shifted, and our goals have gotten loftier, but if the next seven are half as good as the last, then I think I can make it without a hitch.

Happy Anniversary, Love.

Happy Girl’s Day Everyone!  March 3rd is the date of “Girl’s Day” in Japan (also known as “Hina Matsuri” or Doll Festival  and “Momo no Sekku” or Peach Blossom Festival).  I thought it was especially appropriate to celebrate the holiday here considering the fact that making dolls compromises a large part of my business!  (Edit: One of my dolls, Ichigo, was featured in the Etsy Storque today in an issue about Hina Matsuri!)

On this day families with young daughters celebrate this event at home to ensure their daughter’s future happiness. That is, they decorate hina-Ningyo (special, beautiful dolls which are replicas of an ancient emperor and empress and their subordinates).

The dolls are not the everyday dolls usually played with but are ceremonial dolls, a heritage of the household, handed down, many of them, from generation to generation. They are displayed for a few days in the best room of the house at this festival time, after which they are carefully boxed and put away until the next year. Parents who are able to do so buy new sets of dolls for a girl baby born since the preceding festival, and relatives and friends make gifts of dolls.

Peach blossoms, symbolizing a happy marriage, are indispensable decorations of this festival day. The blossoms signify the feminine traits – of gentility, composure and tranquility.

A set of Hina-dolls usually consists of at least 15 dolls, all in the ancient costumes. The display also includes miniature household articles which often are exquisite artistic productions. The dolls most highly valued are the Dairi-sama, which represent the Emperor and Empress in resplendent court costumes of silk. They are attended by their two ministers, three kanjo (court ladies), and five court musicians. All are displayed on a tier of steps, usually five, from 3 to 6 ft. long and covered with bright red cloth. This stand is specially set up in the home only on this day.

The Imperial couple occupy the top step, the Emperor at the left of the Empress. Court ladies and banquet trays and dishes occupy the second tier; the other dolls are arranged on the lower tiers. (Quoted from Ginkoya.com)

I celebrated my first Hina Matsuri while living in Japan in 2005-06.  The dorm parents at my friend’s dormitory (@metal_wings) had a beautiful display of dolls they had collected.  I spent a lot of time photographing each one so I could remember them all!  We all got together on Girl’s Day to celebrate and it is a memory that I will never forget.

So, whether you are in Japan or any other part of the world, Happy Girl’s Day!  Have a cup of shirozake and celebrate!

10% off EVERYTHING in my Zibbet Store for today only!

If I was a man and I liked wearing a suit and tie, this image would be me!  I have been so busy with everything this past week, I have not had a chance to do much aside from a little twittering here and there.  I love folding paper and maintaining my online shop, but when my “real” profession gets in the way it can make for some messy situations…

I was blessed with several orders this week.  (Yes, you definitely read that right!  6 dolls, a pendant, and a potential custom order of earrings!)  So while the crafty-side of me is jumping for glee, the practical side of me that is burdened with grading exams, teaching classes, and doing my own research is groaning.  I am a terrible multi-tasker.  The business is good and if I can sustain everything, then it will be a nice supplementary form of income come summer.  But man…  finding time to package, mail, restock, twitter, facebook, and blog is no easy task!  I do not think anybody realizes the kind of work that goes into maintaining an etsy shop until they are in the thick of it!

But do not get me wrong — this is wonderful!  After several months of small sales or no sales, this sudden explosion is welcomed with open arms!  I blame the cuteness of the origami dolls (and the lower price point) for bringing new audiences into the shop.  I am also trying to expand my enterprise by opening a shop on zibbet (http://www.zibbet.com/umeorigami), but that deserves its own separate discussion.

I just keep telling myself that for every essay I read, I can dawdle around folding for 10 minutes as a stress reliever.

Some new items in the shop though, so if you haven’t seen them, give them a look-see.  I have redesigned my etsy banner so any feedback on our “new look” would be awesome.

New Beginning!

This is only a temporary layout until I get the time to create my own!  I am so excited to get this thing started.  I registered my etsy shop, registered this blog, and I am on my way to setting up a small independent business to sell my origami creations.  There is still a lot of things that I need to figure out (shipping, paypal, shipping boxes, packaging), but I have a product that I know is good.  In fact, just sitting here in Panera, I got a compliment on my origami hummingbird earrings.

So here is my grand master plan…  (or the beginnings of one!)  I spent time in Hiroshima for a 2 week program related to the atomic bombings and the message of peace.  As a graduate student, I think the experience was life-changing in many ways.  My work has always been abstract, and while I know what I do is important to my field, I have a strong desire to do something concrete.  So part of this project is to create work to gain a little bit of money to offset the costs of living and education.  The other part is making a product with a message, with funds I can donate to an organization that is accomplishing something I feel is important.  Here is the business plan…

I want to make origami earrings and accessories since it is something I have loved since I was a little girl.  The story of Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes has a lot of significance to Hiroshima and has transformed into a symbol of peace.  I remember reading the book as a child in elementary school, but being in Hiroshima, the message contained special significance.  The earrings of various animals and plants will go towards my expenses (books, supplies, etc), but of the origami crane earrings I make, I want to donate half of the funds to an organization called Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace.  The non-profit organization is a collective of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) who tell their first-hand experience in English.  I had the priviledge of listening to 6 different hibakusha tell their stories and as people age, I feel the message they bring is invaluable to people of my generation who have not experienced war first-hand.  So… In my own way, I want to contribute my creativity to the cause.  If I can make back the cost of the crane earrings, then I feel this is a productive way to help those who lent me their time and energy.  It is a story that people NEED to understand and come to terms with around the world.

So that is my plan.  Make a small bit of money to continue the hobby I love, have funds to donate to a cause, and maybe make a little on the side to pay for my books!

3..2..1… Let’s begin!