Thursday, 30 April 2009

Thanks Mr Postman

Great excitement in the Monkey household at the moment (or maybe it's just me...), because the postman just brought me this!

In case you are, I don't know, my Mum, it's a Nintendo DS (sorry Mum. Maybe I should have said Dad...). I've fancied one for a while but couldn't really justify the expense. However, you know all those lovely points you build up by using your credit card? I've just cashed mine in :-)

Yup, free DS. Excellent. Of course I now have to go out and buy some software for it, but we'll gloss over that quickly...

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Golden Week

At this time of year in Japan we have a run of consecutive public holidays known as Golden Week. A lot of companies close down completely for a week or more. H 'only' has the actual public holidays off, which means today and next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My offical working day is Thursday, so I will have classes tomorrow as usual and the only change in my schedule is that one of my private students has cancelled Monday's class. On the other hand H will be around, and other friends who are normally at work will be free too.

Today we kicked off the holidays with a barbeque lunch at home with friends. Previous barbeques with these friends always seemed to coincide with bad weather but this time the weather was great, even bordering on too hot (I know, I know, always complaining...). We even made use of the parasol Mum and Dad bought in 2001 and which we hadn't used since...

Some of the other things I want to get done or have planned for over the holidays:
  • meet up with some friends on Saturday who have a little monkey a little older than K.
  • a second attempt at the international family picnic on Sunday
  • make something for H's birthday
  • put together the armchair I bought for K's room and put up the new clock for the living room
  • have a play with my new rubber stamp making kit
  • finish my current monkey-related project :-)
  • and now for the big one... Sort Out The Garden

We moved into this house 2 years ago and had the front garden (actually kind of at the side of the house, but anyway) done soon after, in a traditional Japanese style:

However, get to the end of that garden and you are faced with this:

Which doesn't look any better from this angle either:

It's rather embarrassing to even refer to it as 'the back garden', since it is really just bare earth and a load of weeds. It's supposed to have a nice lawned area, some shrubs and a little vegetable patch.... My excuse for not having done anything to it yet is that, for most of the time we've been living here, I've either been pregnant or looking after a little baby. That one is beginning to wear thin now and anyway, I want the lawn for K to play on. So hopefully, by posting it all here, it'll push me to actually get on and do something about it...

Don't hold your breath though.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Introducing the little monkey

K was born in March last year, making him almost 14 months old now. My main job nowadays is Mum, although I have recently started going out to work one day a week and H's mum comes over to look after K then. He is generally a contented little monkey who keeps his Mum and Dad very entertained.

One of K's favourite activities is eating:

As long as you let him feed himself, with his fingers, he is happy. He'll have a go at eating most things, but he is a particular fan of mini tomatoes, bananas and other fruit. He's also keen on anything in the carbohydrate category and, for that matter, the protein category. We've discovered that it's best to offer him his meal a little at a time. Otherwise, he eats the 'best' bit and just drops everything else on the floor. This way, however, he will eat pretty much everything, as long as he can't see the rest of the mini tomatoes waiting for him...

One of the most popular toys at the moment is the shape-shorter, although he can only really put the cylinders in with confidence now.

And of course, just taking the lid off and waving it about is always good for a laugh too.

K is not yet walking by himself, but he cruises around well holding onto the furniture. I've also found out recently that he can climb up onto the coffee table and sit on top of it looking very proud of himself. I'm guessing that that was also the source of the 'thud-long pause-loud scream' sequence the other day...

When people ask me if K is talking yet I say not yet, but I think a more accurate answer is yes, but we don't yet understand what he's saying. Cats, dogs and birds get a definite verbal reaction, as does Daddy as he arrives home each day.

Other favourite things at the moment: music (listening to it and producing it!), looking at books, going out in the car, playing peek-a-boo around the sofa and running away when you're trying to change his nappy...

Monday, 27 April 2009

Buttercup Bag

After several weeks of lovely weather, the weekend was wet and windy so the picnic we had planned for Sunday had to be postponed. I did get lots of other things done though: shopping (both boring and fun stuff), a yoga class, an impromtu night out with friends and a bit of sewing.

My latest project, the Buttercup Bag, has been completed!

This super-cute bag was designed by Rae at madebyrae, and she gives the pattern away free here.

It seems to have taken the crafting blog world by storm, and so even I decided to have a go...

I'm sure that for experienced sewers it is very easy to make, but for me it was a nice little challenge: a lining! pleats! a magnetic clasp! And while the end result is far from perfect, I'm very pleased with it. The only real problem with it is not actually my fault. The magnetic clasp is incredibly strong and threatens to pull the bag apart every time I open it. Ever resourceful H to the rescue, who suggested sticking a circle of black felt over one side of the clasp to weaken the magnet.

So I did. Yeah H!

If I make it again I'll use heavier fabric (maybe denim?) or interface it and, after looking at the Fickr pool, set the handle in between the outer and lining. I might skip the button tab altogether too, or just sew a button or two directly onto the bag. Making nice smooth curves there (and, ahem, sewing it onto the bag straight...) were the hardest part and created the most noticable signs that this was not made by an expert, so I think I'll pass next time. Or I suppose I could get better at sewing instead...

Right I'm off to upload these photos to the Buttercup Bag Flickr group, and try to find out how to make nice embedded links in blog posts!

***Yeah! Managed the photo uploading and the link!***

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Inaugural Post

Lately I've been spending more and more time reading blogs and getting more and more tempted to join in the fun. I'm not really sure what I'm going to write about (or if anyone will be interested in reading it...) but I'm hoping that it will at least act as my own record of what I've been up to and of the little monkey, K, as he grows.

In keeping with the title of the blog, I'll leave you with a monkey I made recently...