Archive for November, 2008

Children’s Book Illustrators: Gyo Fujikawa

I found the cutest little children’s book ever at a garage sale for 50 cents. It’s titled Let’s Eat by Gyo Fujikawa. The illustrations made me feel very nostalgic for my childhood. And the first thing I noticed was how racially diverse the characters were, there was even a little Chinese girl feeding baby chicks.


The book was first published in 1975 by Sunny Books and reprinted in 1989. I didn’t know too much about the illustrator, so I thought I find out more. Gyo Fujikawa (1908-1998) is of Japanese descent born in Berkeley, California. She’s illustrated over 40 children’s books. Her illustrations show a happy version of childhood. Some of her illustrations of kids feeding farm animal seem so familiar, even though I’ve never lived in a farm. Her paintings of children have the same round happy face, rosy cheeks and simple dot for eyes. When asked about her drawings, Fujikawa said:

“In illustrating for children, what I relish most is trying to satisfy the constant question in the back of my mind–will this picture capture a child’s imagination? What can I do to enhance it further? Does it help to tell a story? I am far from being successful (whatever that means), but I am ever so grateful to small readers who find ‘something’ in any book of mine.”

She is so humble and lived to be 90 years old! I would consider her a pioneer in the world of female children’s illustrator. I just wish I could draw half as good as her. Well, I can’t seem to find any images on the net of my book. But I did find others, Bonne Nuit, a French version of Good Night from lucychan80s flickr.

The illustration os so nice, I may want to scan it and maybe print some to frame. I also found out that the books have been out of print, but has many used book dealers selling the same book from $20 to $160. I guess I now have a collectible in my hands.


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Rice Bran Handmade Soap

The past couple of years has been really good to olive oil. But the future may belong to rice bran oil. I had read so much of the benefits of this oil (and the rice bran powder) from many Japanese skincare company catalogs. They actually inspired me to make my own version of the rice bran soap. I searched all over town trying to locate the oil, including Whole Foods. They had almost every oil, but not rice bran. I also tried our local Japanese market, but they were very expensive for such a small bottle. But they did have a good selection of rice bran powder. I almost gave up, but finally came across a bigger Japanese market with a more reasonable price. About $12 for 64 fluid oz. ricebran1a4

Soap Ingredients: Rice Bran oil, Palm oil, Coconut oil, Soybean oil, Castor oil, Distilled water, Sodium hydroxide, Rice Bran Powder. So I finally got to make my first rice bran oil bar. It has become my favorite bar. I scented it with lychee and mandarin, very light fruity scent. I use it as a facial bar and it’s very moisturizing. The best part is using it as a shaving bar. It really leaves my legs super super soft. I even forgot to use moisturizer (or felt I didn’t need to use it anymore). In Japan, Rice Bran Oil is used to enhance your skin and hair. It is also used all over the world in a variety of cosmetics, especially for treating dry, mature skin. Rice bran oil can be used to make massage oil, bath oil, body butters, and especially soaps. Possibly anywhere in cosmetics making. It is full of antioxidants, such as Vitamin E. Vitamin E is also used in soapmaking as a natural preservative. Oils by Nature supplies, a specialty natural oils company that supply to soapmakers and gourmet food industries had an interesting list of the benefits of Rice Bran Oil. Some of which I will list here:

  • Provides moderate penetration with little greasiness
  • Promotes of collagen formation
  • Treats dry, mature skin
  • Provides smooth spreadability

Read the rest of this entry »

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5 Ingredients of Happiness

I came across James Delrojo’s 5 ingredients of happiness recently. I have always been a glass is half full kind of person, so I relate very well to all of the 5 ingredients he listed. James Delrojo began his professional career as a psychologist. He had a private practice helping business people and sports people develop the mind set and mental strategies they needed to achieve excellence in their field. James is an author, speaker, businessman, & mentor.


Photo credit: Getty Images from BBC News

1. Gratitude
Happy people are grateful and appreciative of what they have, whatever that may be. They always find something good and positive in their circumstances. This attitude of gratitude is the foundation stone on which happiness is built.

By way of contrast unhappy people are not grateful or appreciative of anything in their world. They are constantly focused on the fact that there is something that they don’t have. They live in lack and as a result their spirit is lacking. Nothing ever makes them truly happy.

2. Passion
Happy people are passionate people. It could be a passion for knowledge. It could be a passion for success. It could be a passion for helping others. It could be any passion at all, as long as it truly inspires the person to become more than they are now.

The unhappy person is devoid of passion. They are complacent or apathetic. They have no inspiration in their life, nothing to urge them to evolve and grow into a more developed person. As a result they tend to go around in circles; each year is similar to the year before. They are in a spiritual rut.

3. Challenge
Happy people have a challenge that they are pursuing. It could be a purely spiritual challenge such as finding enlightenment or it could be a commercial challenge such as building a successful business. It could be a sporting challenge such a winning a medal in the Olympics or it could be a career challenge. The important ingredients of the challenge are that it is in the area of the person’s passion and that it is big enough to be inspiring but not so big as to be overwhelming.

The unhappy person avoids challenges. They are waiting for someone or something to give them happiness. They believe that happiness is outside of them and that any form of challenge is work to be avoided. Read the rest of this entry »

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Handmade Ginger & Cranberry Soap

Another addition to my handmade soap batch is ginger & cranberry soap. This batch also has ginger root powder and cranberry fruit extract, nature’s own antibacterial agent. After my ginger soap batch cured, it had a very nice soft ginger scent. The longer the soaps cure ( while it sits in a well ventilated room) the better it gets. The saponification happens when you add the sodium hydroxide to the oils and the mixture heats up and takes 18 to 24 hours to saponify. But it is recommended to let it completely saponify and becomes mild soap in 3 or 4 weeks.


Ingredients include: Safflower oil, Soybean oil, Olive oil, Palm oil, Avocado oil, Distilled water, Sodium Hydroxide, Ginger root powder, and cranberry extract. The color of bar is not as even out, with some streaks. No more streaks, after curing for 6 weeks. I thought the streaks might be from when I added the cranberry powder towards the end. But it is from not being completely cured. This bar is medium in texture, but gets softer after each use. Be sure to let it dry completely so you can get more uses out of it. The bubbles are nice. And it does later up well.

cranberryI have used this soap as a face bar and shaving soap. The bubbles are medium size and the scent is very light. For shaving, I find that I don’t get any more razor burns. I love that I never have to buy shaving cream again. Imagine all the chemicals found in commercial shaving creams. Basically, handmade soap is great and you can even use it as laundry soap.

These little cranberries (shown here) are really good for you. They are taken from John Cushnie’s article in the He wrote about these super berry tittled, “Cranberries and blueberries: the simple superfoods”. Who would have known that cranberries also help fight cavities.

You can purchase some of my other handmade soaps from my Etsy shop: Cambree’s Etsy Shop

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Cottage Living


I’m not much for cookie cutter suburban dwellings. But you just can’t avoid them these days.  And in some places, I’ve seen farmlands being taken over by suburban neighborhoods in less then a year.

I can understand why some people like having newer homes.  It’s great having all new amenities and not having to worry about old pipes and more. But for me, cottages have much more character and charm about them. Especially cottages in the country such as this painting by Mr. MacDonald-Ross of his centuries old stone cottage near Warrenpoint .


I really like this picture of a cute cottage by the lake in Portland, Oregon. The photo was taken by Portland Oregon Photography: Images and Dreams from the Oregon Street – A Photographic Landscape of Urban Oregon dated January 2005.

Cottage Living magazine wrote,

Lake Oswego was once a resort community, which explains why the early 20th-century homes of First Addition are so cozy. Now it’s a bedroom community for Portland, less than 10 miles away. Given the scenic lakeside location, library and coffee shop in walking distance, and public transit into downtown Portland, it’s no wonder real estate prices have risen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Customize Your Fabrics

I just found out about the coolest thing for all those aspiring fabric designers and craft lover out there. At you can design your own fabric patterns and have it printed out and sent to your home. Talk about customization and having a truly one of a kind prints.

I love the idea of printing out soft dolls patterns. The ones pictured below are so cute!



custom fabric from Spoonflower

  • No minimum order
  • $18 per yard
  • High-quality 4.3 oz Kona™ cotton
  • Satisfaction guaranteed
  • Fast turnaround

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Euphorbia Milii (Crown of Thorns)

Euphorbia milii also known as Crown of Thorns has become widely popular these days. They originated in Madagascar. I remember about 10 years ago it would have been difficult to locate one. But now they are even sold at Home Depot. The variety found at the plant nursery have larger blooms and smaller clusters of leaves.

Crown of Thorns are very popular in many Thai and Lao households (or gardeners). They believe the plant brings them fortune and luck. As the Lucky bamboo is for the Chinese. But for the plant to be truly a symbol of good fortune, the flowers must form in brackets of 8. The bright red flowers are tiny, but the contrast it gives with the big emerald leaves are beautiful. I think many people might be turn off by the amount of thorns it has, but I think it makes the plant very unique looking.


My mother grows two varieties in her garden. The small variety has very small leaves and tiny red flowers. The one I have a pictured here (up close) was originally from southern California. It is about 10 years old. The original plant was probably older, maybe 30 years old. They usually bloom in spring and summer. But this year, we found her plant to be blooming more then usual.

These plants are very easy to grow. Like many succulents, it requires just a nice cutting and good clean soil. They don’t prefer too much water, so they do well in dry climates. During the winter (California) we usually protect them from frost. A couple of years ago, it almost got wiped out.

Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service has lots of good questions and answers on here. Some examples include: Question: I have owned a crown of thorns plant for about four years. It seems to be doing very well. However, it is very tall and I wonder if I should be cutting it back? Read the rest of this entry »

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