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Monday, February 20, 2017

New and improved siu mai technique

Keeping an open mind isn't always the easiest thing to do. We become comfortable when we are accustomed to doing something in a way that has always been successful.

But somewhere along the way I stumbled upon this cooking tutorial by Kenji Lopez-Alt author of The Food Lab and the Serious Eats food blog. The image of his dumplings was so beautiful it stuck in my head.


Left: How I've always made them - Right: How I made them last night

Even though I've made steamed Chinese dumplings Siu Mai (aka Shu Mai) for over two decades, maybe even three, by folding the skins upward and leaving the filling exposed I really wanted to try Kenji's way of spiraling the the dough together at the top of the dumpling just because it is so much prettier!

The image to the right is how they turned out last night! I will be making them this way from now on. Not only are they more elegant in design, they are also easier to move from the steamer to a plate because they hold together better.

There are many variations of fillings for siu mai and won ton wrappers available at most grocery stores work well if actual siu mai wrappers are not readily available or you don't want to make dough from scratch.

In the left photo above I'd added a tiny bit of shoyu and dab of wasabi to each dumpling. I didn't do that last night. Instead I served them with 4 different dipping sauces:

1. Coleman's Mustard: Just mix the dry powdered mustard with shoyu (aka soy sauce)
2. Hoisin Sauce: I like to thin it with just a bit of hot water to make it more fluid
3. Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce: I also thin this with just a bit of hot water to make it more fluid
4. A mixture of shoyu, sesame oil, and a little white vinegar

Fred liked 1 & 2 best while I like 3 & 4 so I guess I'll be stuck making 4 sauces whenever I serve them from now on :)

BTW leftovers are great because the dumpling are also good cold right out of the fridge or you can reheat them quickly in a microwave.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today is the day E.O. 9066 was signed

One of the most disheartening things people who didn't mean to offend me have said (directly) to me has been post 9/11 when they express their belief that people of Middle Eastern descent, or those who are Muslim, should be "rounded up" and moved out to a deserted area or shipped back to where they came from.


My reply to them is always the same: "It is that mentality that led to my family being imprisoned for almost 4 years during WWII. They had done nothing wrong yet they were uprooted from the West Coast and moved to Heart Mountain, WY where they lived behind barbed wire in an uninsulated shack. It was as wrong, unjust, and unAmerican then as it would be to do it again now to a different group of people."

My Family

I have also had several people tell me it was for my family's own good, for their protection from racism, that they were interned, their freedom stripped away from them. My reply to them is always that it that were so it would have been a voluntary choice to be moved into the sanctuary of the internment camps if people felt unsafe.

So if you bring up this subject to me please don't be surprised when I defend any group from being racially or religiously profiled or stereotyped. Not enough people stood up for my family when they were taken away. I will not be one of the quiet ones if it happens again.



This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I'll be presenting origami at the Grand Rapids Asian Festival this summer

Imagine my surprise when I was contacted to see if I'd want to participate as an origami artist at the inaugural "Grand Rapid's Asian Festival" on June 10th, 2017. My first thought was: Wow, cool! My second thought: There are enough of us to hold a festival? LOL

The Experience Grand Rapids website lists Asians as 2% of the demographic in Grand Rapids with the most predominate ethnic groups being: "...Vietnam, Korea, China and India." Japanese are only listed near the bottom of the page as cuisine at local restaurants.


One of the most different things about moving from the West Coast to the Midwest is how infrequently I see other people of Asian descents. In Santa Clara County where I lived in California the demographics for Asians is currently 35.6% here in Montcalm County where I now live we are .5% of the population. Note that isn't 5.0% but 0.5%. In the city of Greenville, according to the Census.gov website, there are X (which I assume means 0... I just looked, it means "not applicable") percentage of Asians currently living here. So I count for nothing? LOL

At most I see another Asian person every other month (or so) usually at the grocery store. If I drive an hour into Grand Rapids I may see one Asian person while I'm there. But not every time. It's kind of like being a unicorn, but Asian. In the Midwest :)


I also find myself wanting to promote multi-culturalism. I've learned so much about how to be a Midwesterner! For starters I've learned how to make Ebelskiver and planted tulips because the Danish and Dutch cultures are well represented in this area. Fred suggested I also needed to learn how to make an entire meat and potatoes meal on a BBQ grill. So I did. I shovel snow like a boss, learned to make creamed corn with the bagfuls our neighbor gives us each year, learned to garden, bake pies, and climbed "The Dune."

So this is a chance for me to give back and share some of my culturural heritage with the people of West Michigan. I immediately confirmed "yes" I would like to participate. Partly because I know for a fact that many people here in Michigan who come to ArtPrize are avid paper folders themselves. And quite a few people have asked me to teach classes. So to host a complimentary workshop at an Asian Festival seems like a great idea!

Activities that day will include:
- Martial artists
- Lion Dancers
- Singers
- Cultural Dancers
- Karaoke Contest
- Band & DJ line up
- And more...

I hope you can attend. It should be both fun and from what I'm seeing on the Facebook Group's wall, quite delicious and entertaining!

CLICK HERE to follow the official event page on Facebook.

Click this link to follow Participant's Group Page which asks:

Participants:
This is where you come in. Help us make the Asian festival become Amazing! Suggest below on unique / great Asian performers/acts plus contact info if you have it.

Also looking for off stage performers. Asian street performers of arts, dance, cultural performance, calligraphy, sports exhibitions (like sepak takraw), etc.

Sponsors:
If you are interested in being a sponsor you can join the GRAF2017 Facebook group and ask to have a packet sent to you.



This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The new me

The other day I was talking to my friend Dana on the phone. He said something like "Remember when you used..." about how I used to go out and do more things when I lived in California and would then blog about them. I'd been feeling the same way. It made me realize there was something else I hadn't done for a long time, which was to update the fun and flirty cartoon self portraits I used to use across my websites and social media platforms for branding and marketing purposes.

So I made a new me...


She's not wearing lipstick and she doesn't color the greys out of her hair. Except for tweezing her eyebrows, and occasionally getting a hair cut/trim that's her, I mean me, the current real me.


I started making cartoon-me back in 2009 because I absolutely hate to have my picture taken. The only thing that ever really changed was the length of my hair so I'd update the cartoon internet-wide and on my business cards to reflect what I currently looked like at any given time. LOL


I also update the masthead on this blog. The sandhill cranes are from this picture I took a couple of years ago when I was driving down the highway and saw many cranes feeding out in a field. I turned off and was lucky enough to get this shot.


I used to have a lot of fun creating the self-portrait style cartoons not just for myself but lots of other people too! Maybe I'll take it up again someday or occasionally add the option for one in my Etsy shop. If you'd be interested in commissioning one just let me know. You can probably twist my arm a teensy bit to take a break from my folding to design a cartoon just for you :D

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Save the date: May 27th and July 22nd, 2017


Well, I've done it. I've taken another step launching Tinygami as my full time career. I signed up to participate at the:

Made In Michigan Pop-Up Market
Saturday May 27th and July 22nd, 2017
Each day from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
435 Ionia Ave. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

So, if seeing Tinygamis in person is something you've been wanting to do just save either of the two dates and come see them in downtown Grand Rapids.


Between now and then I'll be making lots of items (that you can currently see/purchase in the Tinygami Etsy Shop) to bring with me. My prices for strands of cranes and frogs, jewelry, origami boxes, and individual cranes, frogs, and rabbits will range from $5-$75 for most items.

As markets go this feels like a good place to start. Because I signed up to sell beneath the portico in the photo above I won't need a big tent/booth to transport and set up in the street. Most likely I'll show up with a folding table and greeting card stand (the wire kind that spins).


Planning the booth display will be fun! I'm thinking a simple table with a jewelry stand and some sort of miniature shelving for the tiny boxes. And to haul everything there?


I'll most likely bring my tiny travel trailer "The Glampette!" I'll have to measure her from my car's front bumper to her rear door. If together the car and trailer measure 18' or less they'll fit perfectly into the parking spot adjacent to my booth area! I hope they'll fit. It would be both fun and easy to load her up and bring her to Grand Rapids for the day.


A handful of ArtPrize visitors know the whole story about The Glampette and how she's why I first came to Michigan, learned about ArtPrize, and ended up relocating here from Northern California.

So if you want to shop for Tinygamis, take a peek at The Glampette, or want to stop by just to say "Hi!" please do! I'll be looking for you :)



This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

The new year always brings both hope and anxiety, oddly, for the same reason: What lies ahead?

Sometimes that question is a good thing because it symbolizes possibilities. From the opposite perspective though it represents change, which while also good, can be a bit frightening too.

One thing New Year's Day has come to symbolize for me is the traditional Japanese (sometimes dangerous*) New Year's Day soup known as "Ozoni." I've blogged about my attempts to re-create this cuisine from my past recalling that we didn't have it often and it was always the same recipe of a homemade pork broth with shredded bits of pork, sliced napa cabbage, and mochi, which are sweet glutinous rice cakes.


Here was my attempt for 2017. This year I improvised. When I went to my local grocery store the smallest head of napa cabbage was still 4 lbs and would have cost $6.00. Since I only needed enough for one bowl of soup I couldn't quite bring myself to make the commitment I'd find other recipes to use the remaining 3 lbs and 15 oz of cabbage in. LOL.

So instead, I used Brussels sprouts. Oven roasted Brussels sprouts, an idea gleaned from an order of ramen I had years ago in SF. I also added sliced sweet yellow onion, a little fresh spinach, finely chopped green onion just before serving, and I used brown rice mochi (toasted in a cast iron frying pan) instead of white rice mochi to be healthier. That's the neat thing about ozoni. You can use any thing from vegetable broth to meat broth, white rice or brown rice mochi, and a wide assortment of vegetables and other ingredients.


When I lived in California I was able to procure fresh lotus root (the round things with holes in them) and the pink and white kamaboko (steamed Japanese fish cakes) that I used in my 2010 ozoni, pictured above.


Another time I went simple with vegetable broth, only napa cabbage, and a traditional white rice mochi cake but added beautifully cut carrot crabs just to make it special.

It's the only New Year's Day tradition I've celebrated in years. I usually don't even wait until midnight to see the ball drop in Times Square mostly because we don't have a television :D Or maybe it's because the symbolism of a new beginning means more to me than the end of the year before.

It's not always an easy thing to embrace the unknown but each year that's the perspective I choose to take, one that looks forward to the possibilities of what is to come.

I wish you a good new year. Yes, it will be filled with both happiness and sadness because that's just how life is. But I hope you find more fulfillment and contentment because (imho) that's really what matters most. And here's a hint: They're not the things that money can buy. They're all about how you look at the world and how you prioritize your own worth and self. If you make your own evolution a priority you will become a stronger person who can deal with all that is coming your way (the good and the bad) with dignity, grace, appreciation, and empathy for yourself, your loved ones, and the world around you.



*Mochi is very chewy, so if you ever try to make this dish only take very small bites and chew very well. Each year people in Japan choke to death, usually the elderly or the very young because they aren't able to chew as well :( I use my hashi (chopsticks) to tear very small bites from the mochi cake. Toasting also makes it a bit safer as the toasted exterior becomes crunchy instead of chewy.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

A DIY Faux Weathered Wood Ceiling

My idea for the Tinygami Work Studio is to have the left half of the ceiling bright white as it will be the side I use as a mini photo studio. The walls and ceiling will be plain white and perhaps even part of the floor.

The right side is where my daily work/production area will be. I want it to feel like a private alcove, kind of cozy and comforting, like I'm tucked away from the world when I go there. I guess you could say I'm going for a rustic, Japanese, farmhouse kind of environment.

Since day one as I've driven around the Michigan countryside I've always been envious of the old barn wood I see on every highway I've traversed. How to get that look when I don't have an old barn to knock down and dismantle to upcycle those gorgeous weathered boards? Make them!

I sifted through a multitude of tutorials on Pinterest and came up with this:


Since I don't seem to be 100% back in the swing of blogging (the way I used to be) this tutorial is a little under-imaged but contains all the pertinent info you'll need to try this project yourself.

In a nut-shell I'd say it was both easy and fun. Since you're going for a worn and weathered look perfection isn't a requirement. It's more like a little slap it on, rub it around, wipe it off kind of  process that is quite forgiving as long as you remember to not create hard start and stop lines with the first coat of stain as they'll mark the wood with straight lines. In order not to do that I discovered two tricks:
  1. The main one I used on each coat was this: Apply the stain in short 2 foot sections (starting at the right end of the board and moving left) by dragging the foam applicator from right to left so that where the stroke ends you have long streak marks instead of a hard solid edge. When I applied stain to the next section I'd zig-zag the applicator a bit then do the same. I constantly went back to the far right end of each board and would draw the applicator down as far as the last section I'd just stained. This kept the application of the stain nice and even.
  2. On day two I did add a touch of mineral spirits to the foam applicator to apply the ebony which made the stain easier to apply. I don't know that I had to do this but didn't want to take any chances since the black-color was so dark.
Supplies:
  1. 29 Pine tongue and groove boards for each half of the ceiling. I purposely looked for the boards with knots, swirls, and patterns that were loaded with character. The "perfect" boards I used for the painted white boards or slipped them back into the pile at the lumber store.
  2. 1 coat of Minwax Jacobean oil-based stain applied with a 5" foam/sponge applicator and wiped off with a lint-free cloth. Allow to dry at least 24 hours until dry to touch.
  3. 1 coat of Minwax Ebony oil-based stain applied same as step 2.
  4. 1 coat of Minwax Classic Grey oil-based stain applied same as step 2.
  5. I will most likely be using Minwax Clear Brushing Lacquer in the satin finish as my finishing coat because I really want a crystal clear finish, not a topcoat that turns amber over time. ETA: I have now decided I will either leave the wood unfinished or use a finishing wax as I don't want a shiny surface to the boards. I'd prefer them to look raw and unfinished. Because there is no plumbing in the studio, and during the winter I'll run heat, and the summer AC I don't think humidity is going to be a problem as far as moisture damage to the ceiling. 
 Optional items I used for this project:
  • Rubber gloves. I got the chemical resistant kind at the hardware shop.
  • Foam applicators. I used 6 start to finish. The first color took 3 to, the second color took 2, and the final color only used 1. This was because the more stain that was already on the boards the easier it was to apply.
  • I used 2 lint-free rags total for wiping down the boards. I used the first one until it was so saturated with stain I had to start a second.
  • 3 stir sticks, one for each color of stain.
  • A breathing mask rated to filter out the stain fumes as I was working in a heated garage for 3-4 hours for each color/coat because it's winter.
  • Paint thinner to clean up.
  • I didn't until it was too late but I'd say to use lots of cardboard on the floor and at each end of the length of your boards to prevent splatters.
Optional ideas I read about but did not implement:
  • Sand all hard edges before you begin to create a more worn look.
  • Spot sand board edges between colors also to create a more worn and weathered.
  • Beat the boards with random heavy objects to dent and ding them then sand the dents and dings to make them look aged.
  • Use a combination of paint and stain to color your boards.
Some of the many pins I used for inspiration:

Build a Rustic Sofa Table & Make New Wood Look Old on PaperDaisyDesign.com
Wood feature wall on TheRaggedWren.Blogspot.com
MIXED WOOD WALL – EASY & CHEAP DIY on UncookieCutter.com
HOW TO MAKE NEW WOOD LOOK LIKE OLD DISTRESSED BARN BOARDS on RealityDayDream.com
DIY Plywood Plank Floors on CentsationalGirl.com

If you decide to try this and have any questions leave a comment or message me via my website! I'm happy to help if I can.

Oh, and these are the 29 painted white boards. They're primed then painted with one coat. The second coat will go on after installation. I'll admit I'm pretty excited to see them all go up!




This post was originally published on my work-only blog Tinygami.wordpress.com.
For lifestyle + origami updates this (I Found the Place) is the blog for you.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Since Kitai passed away in 2014 I haven't had a reason to post a dog costume here on the blog...


Until this year :)

Meet Lenny! His owner contacted me to ask a question about how I made Kitai's pro-neuter "Mounds" costume. I replied and shortly after I was tagged in a post on Instagram featuring Lenny wearing his very own Mounds costume!


It warmed my heart and made me smile. Lenny's owner did an AWESOME job and even gave Kitai and I a shout out in his post and shared the link to Kitai's Pro-Shelter-Dog advocacy site www.CutestDogEver.com  that talks about special dogs like Kitai who are waiting for forever homes.


Kitai wore his costume to a black tie fundraiser at the shelter I adopted him from.


He even made it into the local news slideshow!

To see more pictures of Lenny in his costume visit his Instagram page www.Instagram.com/maltedlenny



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