Archive for the ‘craft’ Category

Learning cursive

June 29th, 2016

Learning cursive for me was a rite of passage. I remember sitting in Mrs. Smith's third grade classroom at West Hill Elementary School in Connecticut and writing the alphabet on wide lines with a dotted line in the middle for guidance. She would come around and check our progress, suggesting a fatter belly on the G or a loopier tail on the Z.

Di elementary

I'm going to assume you can find me because I'm the only Asian kid.

I'm creative. I'm not an art major, but I make my living in a creative field, and have always like doodling with letters in different fonts. Knowing cursive has completely expanded my artistic expression.

15-4-4 animals

Actually writing with a pencil and paper helped inform my sensibilities when it was time for me to help lay out the high school newspaper. Our teacher, Mr. Becket, taught us the difference between a serif and sans serif font, and how to combine the two for an elegant visual presentation.

That's why it's important for me that my daughter know cursive. Quality of life issues aside, there are the more practical matters of signing her own name. How will she sign for her credit card purchases after a shopping spree? (Ha ha.)

And then there's this scary bit from US News & World Report: "In the murder trial of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Trayvon's 19-year-old friend, Rachel Jeantel, testified to being on a cellphone talking with him just before his death. Many in the courtroom were shocked, though, when Jeantel admitted on the stand that she could not read a document a lawyer handed to her -- because it was written in cursive."

I have been vaguely aware of the longtime national conversation about teaching cursive in school. In the 1990s, I reported about the impact of the No Child Left Behind laws, in which teachers said a narrowed curricula edged out instructional time for cursive writing.

Now there are Common Core standards, which are silent on cursive, but prioritize computer use because its tests are taken on computers. Not long ago, I asked some teachers, who told me they don't teach it anymore.

"I'll teach her, then. It's important," I thought to myself. I'm constantly busy or tired, so most of the school year passed without me taking action. And then came the recipe book.

I brought out a notebook of recipes my mom wrote down for me. I asked Olivia, who reads two grades above her own, to tell me what ingredients I need. She said she had no idea how to read cursive.

Gosh! That really was the first time I've presented her a document in cursive, which is shocking in itself that everything is typewritten nowadays. Mostly, I thought, "This is your Popo's recipe book! You have to know how to read it!"


That very night I drew lines on some paper and started her on the first few letters. She took easily to it and really enjoyed it. She is now writing her name and some other words, and she's very proud of herself - and so am I.


Is cursive an anachronism? Maybe it is a throwback to the pre-Internet era, but I hope there will always be a place for it in our society.


People will always need to jot a few lines down on a piece of paper. What about the handwritten Valentine's Day or birthday card? I believe there's lifelong value in known cursive, and I hope Olivia will feel that one day, too.


DIY Fairy garden

May 27th, 2016

Olivia and I saw a fairy garden display and wanted to have one for ourselves. Of course, I've seen adorable little worlds of miniature gardening before, but it struck a different chord with me as a mother of a girl.

Our fairy garden!

Our fairy garden!

It's a great DIY project - far better, I think, than buying one. The joy is in the journey of making it, spending wonderful quality time with the kiddo.

Fairies welcome!

Fairies welcome!

I'm a gardening hobbyist, so I have a lot of what we need at home on the plant front. She's eight, so she has a lot of what we need at home on the decorations end.

However, there were still a few things we wanted to pick up specifically to make it enchanted, so we drove to Ben Franklin Crafts Hawaii to buy some fairies, bridges, wishing well, and LED lights. (We failed to find a woodland home.)

SKy, Olivia's fairy

Sky, Olivia's fairy

Violet, my fairy

Violet, my fairy

You can make a fairy garden simple with just a couple of figurines, and it will still be charming. Or, you can get crazy like we did, which adds up unexpectedly fast. I wasn't looking at the prices and we just excitedly threw things in the basket.


If you're inspired to DIY, you've been reminded! Little things can cost a lot. $80 later...

Including travel time to the store, the project took us about four hours. We loved it so much, we played with it for the rest of the day and night.


We invented a whole fantasy world involving a quest riddled with challenges- a bit like the Hobbit. Every little item in the garden has a role and a backstory. So much fun letting out my inner child!


She suggested we make this our new hobby and that we keep an eye out for accessories all the time. I love the idea.



Olivia was so happy about this. "Best day ever! You're my best friend!" she chirped. My heart melts 🙂

And for me, that's the real magic of the fairy garden.


Have fun making yours!

A coloring book for women to relax and recharge

May 4th, 2016

My daughter and I are into sketching. Actually, it was she who got me into it, as I like to try to partake in the activities she likes. I ended up liking it way more than I expected.

It seems like the adult coloring book craze started a couple years ago. I've seen a handful of news stories about how coloring is relaxing and meditative.

Courtesy: Kim Weiss

Courtesy: Kim Weiss

When the makers of the coloring book Inkspirations for Women ( offered to send me a sample, I agreed to give it a try.  It's a natural extension of my interest in art on paper.

Believe it or not, scientists have studied coloring, and they've found that it quiets your mind, calms your thoughts, reduces stress, and allows you to simply be. Research shows that coloring can induce a kind of 'flow,' or active meditation, during which you lose your sense of time and your brain waves fall into a calming rhythm. As a result, worries fade away and creative blocks can become wellsprings of ideas.

I looked in the book, and I love the quotes and designs! So uplifting! Here's my favorites:

IMG_0601 IMG_0600


I guess Marci Shimoff know's what she's doing. She's a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a transformational teacher, and says she's an expert on happiness, success and unconditional love. Among other things, she co-authored six titles in the Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul series, and is a featured teacher in The Secret.

Marci Shimoff. Courtesy: Kim Weiss

Marci Shimoff. Courtesy: Kim Weiss

I'm totally looking forward to coloring this - and I might not even share with my kid!

Yoga training: Contemplating challenge

April 20th, 2016

One month, we studied what the yoga sutras have to say about challenge. Essentially, they're there to help you clarify your own desire.

"Many obstructions are purposely put in the way for us to pass through... We seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities," writes Sri Swami Satchidananda.

The example that came to mind right away when we discussed this in class was of my career in news. I pursued it right out of college and lived it with burning enthusiasm for over a decade.

When KHNL had mass layoffs in 2009, I decided to try another career, and enjoyed pushing the boundaries wildly, contemplating cake decorator, lawyer, social worker, behavioral therapist. It's not that I disliked news anymore, but it's that I felt this might be a chance to try something different.

I made this purse-shaped cake.

I made this purse-shaped cake.

In the end, a fancy PR job meandered across my path, and I did that for several years, learning and enjoying what that had to offer, until family crisis called me away. (Mom, Alzheimer's.)

Me at my PR job.

Me at my PR job.

Mom and me.

Mom and me.

Soon after my mom's situation stabilized, the job at KHON2 came to fruition serendipitously. I hadn't thought about my next steps very hard, but returning to news became an attractive idea. I knew I had missed lots about it during the now-five years I was away.

Me at KHON.

Me at KHON.

I like the culture, the energy, the excitement, the type of people it attracts, the craft itself. I was grateful to return to a career I have always had passion for. Most people don't get to work their passion.

Considering this situation within the framework of the sutra, I see my love for my craft didn't diminish during the years spent away, and sharpened my realization that it's what I still like to do.

Which is nice to see in retrospect, because sometimes you go through challenges and wonder why such sucky things happen to you. So maybe there really are no coincidences in life?

15-3-17 4 shot Jai

Is there a time in your life when challenge helped you sharpen your focus? How did you handle it?
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Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Centennial Events for April

March 31st, 2016

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016, and continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park (ADIP) programs with the public in April. All ADIP and Hawaiian cultural programs are free, but park entrance fees apply. Programs are co-sponsored by the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. They are:

Ranger Noah Gomes and ‘ukulele. Courtesy: NPS

Ranger Noah Gomes and ‘ukulele. Courtesy: NPS


‘Ukulele Basics. Park rangers show the basics of how to play the ‘ukulele as part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., April 6 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai


‘Alalā at Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. Courtesy: San Diego Zoo/R.Kohley

‘Alalā at Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. Courtesy: San Diego Zoo/R.Kohley

The Return of the ‘Alalā. ʻAlalā, the native Hawaiian crow, once lived across Hawaiʻi Island. Now, due to a variety of threats in the wild, these birds are found only in captivity. Successful captive breeding and conservation efforts have helped to rescue this native Hawaiian species from the brink of extinction. This fall, ʻalalā will be returned home to the wild, and these very intelligent birds will take their place once again in our Hawaiian forests. Come learn more about the release and recovery of the ʻalalā, a beloved and unique bird found nowhere else on earth. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.
When: Tues., April 12 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Free Entry During National Park Week. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service this year, all fee-charging national parks in the U.S. will offer nine fee-free days to commemorate the centennial during National Park Week– including Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Come and Find Your Park at no charge! Hawai‘i Volcanoes is open 24 hours a day.
When: April 16-24, 2016
Where: All fee-charging national parks

Kahuku ‘Ohana Day. Calling keiki 17 and younger to join park rangers for a fun day of discovery in the park’s Kahuku Unit on Sat., April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants will hike the historic lower Palm Trail, and learn to make traditional string figures called hei. Call (808) 985-6019 to register and sign up for a free lunch by March 31. Bring water, a re-usable water bottle, sunscreen, hat, long pants and shoes. Sponsored by the park and Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center. Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Free.

Hula Performance by Haunani’s Aloha Expressions. This popular, award-winning hula hālau is comprised of an all-Hawaiian volunteer group of kāne and wāhine kūpuna (elders) 70 to over 90 years old, singing and dancing hapa-haole mele and hula. They share the aloha spirit with malihini (visitors) on visiting cruise ships, and at the Hilo International Airport. The kūpuna also entertain patients at many of Hilo’s senior kōkua (caring) organizations, and have performed at the park’s annual cultural festival on several occasions. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” presentations. Free.
When: Wed., April 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Centennial Series After Dark in the Park: What Makes a Species Invasive? Invasive species are introduced organisms that negatively impact our economy, environment and/or our health. They are a leading threat to the world’s biodiversity, contributing to extinctions and the alteration of entire ecosystems, and cost billions of dollars annually. Hawai‘i has been notoriously and negatively impacted by invasives, but no environment is unaffected. Join Park Ecologist David Benitez to learn what makes a species invasive, hear about some of the most unwanted invasive species in the park, Hawai‘i and around the world, and learn what you can do to stop their spread.
When: Tues., April 26, 2016 at 7 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium


Will on ohe hano ihu. Courtesy: NPS

Will on ohe hano ihu. Courtesy: NPS


Hawaiian Arts & Crafts. Staff from the park’s nonprofit partner, the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, will make, and demonstrate how to play, the ‘ohe hano ihu (Hawaiian nose flute). In addition, visitors can learn to create beautiful designs on a bamboo stamp, or ‘ohe kāpala. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.
When: Wed., April 27 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

Centennial Hike: Save the Summit Understory. Join Park Volunteers Paul & Jane Field and lop invasive Himalayan ginger from the native Hawaiian rainforest at the summit of Kīlauea. Bring a hat, raingear, day pack, snacks and water. Gloves and tools are provided.
When: Sat., April 30, 2016 at 9 a.m.
Where: Meet near the flagpole outside Kīlauea Visitor Center

2016 is the centennial anniversary for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and the year-long Centennial After Dark in the Park & Hike Series. To find out what’s happening throughout 2016, visit the park website. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. To find centennial events at other national parks, visit

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