Happy Kitchen, Happy Family

I have a confession. For the previous three weeks I was cattin’ around the US. I took a wee vacation to visit family, and what else to you do with your family on a lazy Saturday afternoon? You drink beer and make some Happy Kitchen, that’s what you do.

Before I left Tokyo I picked up a few of these kits to give as gifts. I don’t think other people are as excited about them as I am, but that didn’t stop me. These little Popin’ Cookin’ and Happy Kitchen candy-making kits are very cute, and a really good example of Japanese homestyle cooking: just add water.

Just kidding (kind of). These kits are just for fun and meant for children. Add water and poof! You’ve got a square meal of panda and donuts. Accompanied by some local beer, they suddenly become the perfect way to entertain your parents while dinner simmered. We chose the donut kit and dove in.

The kit comes with everything you need: vanilla and chocolate dough mix; vanilla, strawberry and chocolate frosting mix; crunch topping; sprinkles; donut molds; mixing bowls; measuring cup and mixing spoon. The directions are listed on the back of the box in Japanese, but the pictures give enough direction that you could figure it out in a pinch.

Each packet requires just one cup of water to be added to create the perfect texture — what science! Here dad illustrates the dough-making, and mom does the donut-mold-making. Now that is teamwork.

Everyone got to decorate. My mom disappeared to The Craft Room and returned with a mini spatula for our mini donut assembly line. There was some discussion over whether sprinkles or crunch were the superior topping choice.

The peanut gallery insisted I place them on a bigger plate. They needed to look as mini as possible.

Everyone took a taste. The consensus? Like play-dough and strawberry milk. Not bad, but not good either. I’d rather wait for the real thing, mini or not. Perhaps that’s the real difference between me and the 5-year old this kit was meant for. Though the donut flavor was a little disappointing, this kit delivered what was promised: a happy kitchen, full of a happy beer-drinkin’ family.

RESCHEDULED: English Craft Club in Shinjuku Gyoen, 9/23

Unfortunately, today’s quilting class is cancelled because of the heavy rain. I think even the park’s covered pavilion will be too damp for proper fun. I apologize to everyone who was hoping to attend.

One-on-one make-up classes are available, please contact me at sakepuppets@gmail.com for more information.

Otherwise the class is rescheduled for next Sunday, 9/30 at 13:00 in Shinjuku Gyoen. A few spots are still available, so please contact me if you’d like to join us.

Again, I am very sorry for the inconvenience. I was really looking forward to sewing some quilts in the park today!  How do you spend a rainy Sunday afternoon? I’d love to hear!

English Craft Club, this Sunday!

The next English Craft Club class meets this Sunday September 23rd in Shinjuku Gyoen! This upcoming class is part of the American Quilt Series, and up this week is the Churn Dash.

Finished quilt blocks can be used to create a table mat, decorate a tote bag or cushion cover, or save to add to a larger quilt. All project materials and light snacks are included. Cost is 5000 yen per person, or bring a friend for a discount of just 3500 yen per person. The English Craft Club is open to everyone — men, women, both native speakers and those learning English. Special English language vocabulary and lesson notes are provided. If you are interested in joining the class, please send an email to sakepuppets@gmail.com to reserve a spot. More info can be found here. Hope to see you there!

Stitch Lessons

I bought this Japanese craft book a few weeks ago and have thumbed the pages many times, trying to decide which pattern to stitch. They don’t make it easy.

The title translates to “Stitch Lesson: 6 basic stitches for lines and surface embroidery.” The book begins with basic instruction in the Big Six: outline stitch, backstitch, chain stitch, satin stitch, long and short stitch, and the couching stitch. In truth, I could use the help. I lean pretty heavily on the split stitch with a fat ol’ six strands of floss, so I thought this book would provide inspiration for some much-needed practice in the dainty-stitch spectrum.

Each page spread presents one project, the complete design on linen on the left and full-size stitch diagram and detail on the right. Patterns and project instructions are relegated to the back.

It is a beautiful book, but let’s be honest — the real reason I bought it was for the very last pattern:

Mmm, pudding.

I acquired some linen swatches that seemed perfect for dainty pudding stitches, but in truth, am having difficulty transferring the detailed patterns onto these coarser fabrics. So I might switch back to cotton, or maybe I’ll just stop whining. I’ll let you know how it goes!