April 1, 2011

Lanterns, Mochi & Totoros

Hey! Check out our lanterns! Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I have to say that I am NOT crafty. I have some friends who are so crafty and talented and make/sell amazing things – it’s all I can do to open a bottle of glue. Sometimes even that is a challenge. Someone should make a book called Crafts for Dummies, I’d run out to get that book!!

Honestly, with these it’s all about the paper. The paper would make anything look good! Here are the basic directions I followed.

I made this last year, we use it to keep stickers in. Basically I took fancy paper and wrapped a shoe box and its lid like I would a present. There was a great deal of tape involved but it has held up pretty well!

More Japanese treats that are Really Extremely Good:

These are available at My Favorite Store, aka Trader Joe’s! This yumminess is ice cream inside a soft, chewy rice dough covering. Julia LOVES mochi.

So, here is what Julia got this year for Christmas:

This is what I am imagining you are saying to yourself right about now – what is that insanely bizarre looking cat creature and what the hey are those round bunny-esque thingamabobs and what is up with those little girls (??) with the smushed faces?

Well, here is a little story for you. While I was familiar with the work of Japanese director and illustrator Hayao Miyazaki, especially Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, I had no idea that he had made movies for smaller kids. My friend Christina told me that I had to run, race, sprint to go see My Neighbor Totoro with Julia and my friend Nick told me that I had better sit Julia down in front of Kiki’s Delivery Service ASAP.

If you and your kids have NOT seen this film, I have just given you a BIG present. Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday! Happy-Almost-Tax-Day! I know I tend to talk in superlatives and get super excited about …most everything…but this I think is the best kid’s movie I have ever seen.

This film is so far removed from the standard, flashy Disney fare, (Disney is great don’t get me wrong), but Totoro is just in its own Universe of Coolness. It is BEAUTIFUL. The story is about two sisters, Mei and Satsuki, who encounter kindly forest spirit creatures in the woods close to their home. The girls (ages 4 and 10) and their professor dad have moved to the country to be closer to the girls’ mother while she is recovering from an illness in the hospital (don’t worry, she comes home at the end of the movie).

A totoro, Mei’s father tells her, is a magical keeper of the forest that only children can see. In addition to the totoro,the girls also meet tiny little dust creatures called soot sprites as well as the Catbus, who shuttles them all from place to place. After Julia first saw this movie, she then watched it everyday for the next 10 days straight. It is amazing.

Julia loves this movie about Kiki, a witch-in-training and her cat Jiji, almost as much. Kiki moves from her village to the big city for a year of witch practice on her own and uses her flying skills to start a package delivery service. By the end of the film, Kiki has gained self-confidence in her abilities, made new friends and found her direction.

You can find Totoro toys here and I got the Mei and Satsuki thumb dolls for about $4 on Ebay.


  1. Totoro and Kiki are staples in our house - truly wonderful!! btw I like the last pic of Julia!

  2. So theres the cat bus! Cool. Ponyo is a very close 2nd to Totoro for us.

  3. That mochi ice cream is sooo yummy. I can eat a whole package all by myself. However... at the big Shirokiya store at Ala Moana, they have a mochi ice cream *mini-store*. It's amazing! they have all these flavors of mochi ice-cream bon bon thingies. OMG....

  4. WOW! I am going to have to check out that action next time I make it Oahu!! OH I miss Ala Moana!