story, science, technology and creativity


2015: Finish your book or eat grilled crickets

Cristy Burne eating grilled cricket

Mmmm. Eating grilled cricket at Scitech. Tastes like toast.

You read it here first:

This year I am finally going to finish that book. You know. The one I’ve been writing for THREE YEARS!!

It should never have taken this long. I have all the excuses, and it has been a fabulous learning journey, but at the end of the year day, it’s time to put the thing to bed.

This year is the year.

I hereby swear and promise: if I don’t finish writing (and editing!) my book this year, I’m going to eat a grilled cricket. Make that two grilled crickets.

Oh, that’s right. I’ve already eaten two grilled crickets. (All in a day’s work.)

But seriously. This year is the year.

So, enough of this post. I’m off writing!
And enough reading of this post: be off with you too. Go and do something you desperately want to do.

Happy New Year people!

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How to keep your New Year Resolution: Papier mache daruma dolls


Want something fun to do on a hot (or cold) day this holidays?
Want to make sure you keep your New Year Resolution?

Here’s the perfect activity to keep you busy AND motivated to succeed in achieving your goals!

Papier mache daruma dolls

Start saving old newspapers and grab some glue: you can make and paint a papier mache daruma doll, perfect for recording your New Year’s Resolutions. Instructions are below or you can DOWNLOAD THIS PAPIER MACHE DARUMA ACTIVITY HERE

About Daruma dolls

– Daruma dolls are based on Daruma, the Japanese name for the Indian monk who started Zen Buddism.

–  The doll has no legs, because the monk once meditated for so long that his legs fell off.

Symbolism of Daruma dolls

– Daruma dolls are heavier on the bottom than on top, which means they bounce back when struck down. This makes them a symbol of optimism, determination and good luck.

– For this reason, the dolls are often associated with a famous Japanese proverb:
Nana korobi, ya oki (七転八起)
“Fall down seven times, get up eight. ”

– Daruma dolls are very hairy, symbolising long life. His hairy eyebrows are shaped like cranes, birds said to live for 1000 years.

Daruma dolls and goal-setting

Daruma dolls are usually painted red, the colour of the monk’s robes, but their eyeballs are left unpainted.

When you decide to pursue a new goal, you paint one of the daruma’s eyeballs. When you have achieved your goal, you paint the other eyeball to match.

As you make your daruma, think about what you would like your goal or resolution  to be.

Instructions for making a papier-mache daruma

You will need:

  • PVA glue
  • Water
  • Icecream container
  • A balloon
  • Newspaper (torn into 3cm strips)
  • White paper (torn into 3cm strips)
  • Masking tape
  • An unwanted plastic bowl or dish (to form the daruma’s weighted base)
  • Paint

What to do:

1)      Mix PVA glue and water in an empty icecream container

2)      Tear the newspaper into strips about 3cm wide

3)      Blow up a balloon to the size you would like your daruma to be. Remember: daruma dolls don’t have arms or legs, and their face is slightly sunken into their bodies.

4)      Dip the newspaper strips into the glue mixture and cover the balloon in six layers of paper strips. Let the layers dry overnight.

5)      Use masking tape to stick the bowl to the bottom of the daruma.

6)      Cover the balloon and the bowl with more layers of newspaper, working to create the shape of a daruma doll.

7)      Use strips of white paper for your final layer.

8)      Paint your daruma, leaving his eyeballs unpainted.

9)      Think of a goal you would like to achieve. When you have decided on your goal, paint in one of the pupils.

10)  Put your finished daruma on display. Every time you see him, you will remember to work towards your goal.

11)  When you have achieved your goal, paint in the daruma’s remaining eyeball.


Other posts you might enjoy:

Hiragana word search: Find the yokai demons and practise your Japanese
Takeshita Demons: help us choose the cover art
8 cool myths about dogs, and why the inugami dog-god didn’t make it

Free stuff: more resources for teaching Japanese yokai or just having fun with monsters