How To Wrap Gifts In Fabric / Use Wrapping Cloth

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There is something oddly satisfying about neatly wrapping gift boxes in paper. My inner neat freak feels many of you nodding in agreement. However, the joy of gift-wrapping can quickly deflate when the patterns of wrapping paper do not line up, your gift is too oddly shaped to be wrapped normally, the paper roll got accidentally smashed in your closet and now has wrinkles all over it, or you tried to use that too-small remnant of wrapping paper and it rips.

Enter the wrapping cloth! Wrapping cloth, which Koreans call Bo-ja-gi, is a versatile item that can be used to wrap just about anything – including Christmas gifts!

There are several advantages to using wrapping cloth:

  • It results in less trash. Yay neatness! No need for tissue-paper stuffing or sticky tapes! All you need is a length of fabric and some elastic bands, and both of those are reusable.
  • It is versatile and quick. Fabric can wrap around odd shapes and soft items, and does so in a matter of seconds without finicky measuring.
  • It will have a second (or third) life, always. Wrapping cloth can always be reused for gift-wrapping, but it also makes a fantastic cape, a bindle, a tent, or a tablecloth for a very small table. I speak from experience.

Now, I will show you some easy ways to use the wrapping cloth. To use wrapping cloth, you will need:

  • Fabric (any kind will do, as long as it is big enough. When in doubt, bigger is usually better.)
  • Candle and matchstick (optional)
  • Iron (optional)
  • Elastic bands (optional)
  • A pinch of creativity

Before you proceed, you will need to prepare your fabric. About 1 yard x 1 yard is a good size for a wrapping cloth, but smaller sizes and rectangular shapes can work, too. You can iron and hem your wrapping cloth if you so desire. If it is made of synthetic material that melts, you can quickly and easily hem it by briefly running the edge of the fabric over a candle flame. The fuzzy ends will melt and seal the edges.

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Method # 1: The Basic

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This method works with any shape of wrapping cloth.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth flat on a surface, and put your gift item in the middle of it.
  2. Grab two opposite corners of the wrapping cloth and tie them together in the middle.
  3. Grab the other two opposite corners and tie them together.
  4. Done!

Simple, isn’t it? You can just leave it as it is, or try one of the following variations:

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Left: Tuck the ends under the knot.

Middle: Braid the ends together.

Right: Twist each end of the wrapping cloth until it curls on itself.

 

Method #2: The Butterfly

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This works well when your wrapping cloth is square and the gift is oblong, like the box of spaghetti noodles shown here.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth and your gift item in the middle of it. Notice the length between the side of the item and the corner of the wrapping cloth. On two sides, it is long, and on the other sides, it is short.
  2. Grab the long ends first and tie it into a knot. If the difference between the long and short ends is great, you will need to tie the knot twice.
  3. Grab the short ends and tie it into a knot.
  4. Now you have “The Basic” form. Notice that there’s a pair of long ends and a pair of short ends.
  5. Grab the long ends and tie a knot again over the short knot.
  6. Twist and fan out the ends into the form of a butterfly.

 

Method #3: The Basic With Pocket

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This can work with square or oblong wrapping cloth.

  1. Lay out the wrapping cloth and your gift item in the middle of it.
  2. Take one corner completely over the gift. Take the opposite corner and fold it halfway up.
  3. Fold it up again, this time over the gift. This makes the “pocket.”
  4. Take the remaining 2 corners and grasp them firmly in your hands. (For the neatest results, grab it as close to the gift as possible.)
  5. Tie a knot.
  6. Tie a knot again.
  7. Take each end and tuck it under the knot. Insert a card or a note into the pocket.

 

Method # 4: Flower

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This works well with a square wrapping cloth and a square (or close to square) gift. You will need an elastic band for this.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth with the gift in the middle of it.
  2. Gather the four corners together and hold them pinched in one hand, over the gift.
  3. With your other hand, tuck in the excess fabric (think of making a pyramid).
  4. Grasp the fabric into one hand and tie an elastic band around it. Push the elastic band down as close to the gift as possible.
  5. Fan out the ends so they look even.
  6. Take each end and poke it into the middle.
  7. You now have a pretty flower on top of your gift!

 

Method # 5: Candy roll

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This works great with oblong wrapping cloth, but it works as long as your wrapping cloth is long enough to go around your gift at least 1.5 times. You will need two elastic bands.

  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth. Put your gift on the middle of one of the edges.
  2. Roll it up.
  3. Tie an elastic band at each end of the gift, and you are done.

You can also try some variations with the Candy Roll:

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Left: Use a smaller wrapping cloth or a bigger box so that your “Candy Roll” has short little stumps at the end. I tried doubling up the same wrapping cloth from above, and used a cube-like box.

Middle: Fluff up the end to make it look like a flower. This looks good when you use a long wrapping cloth that can wrap around the gift multiple times.

Right: Roll up the end as you would a pair of socks. This works only if you have plenty of excess fabric.

 

Method # 6: Twist and Twist

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  1. Lay out your wrapping cloth, and put your gift on the middle along one of the edges, as for Candy Roll.
  2. Roll it up.
  3. Grasp the excess wrapping cloth. (For the neatest results, grab it as close to the gift as possible).
  4. Twist it once across the top of the gift.
  5. Twist again.
  6. Tuck the ends under.
  7. Done! No knots here. Note or card is optional.

Now, doesn’t that look easy and fun? What’s more, there are no hard and fast rules about using the wrapping cloth. Please feel free to take my guide as a mere suggestion, and experiment with the wrapping cloth on your own. Merry Christmas to y’all!

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Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time from a Not-Really-a-Gamer’s Point of View

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Zelda, that legendary game. The game that one must play. The game that is, for some reason, named after a princess who plays a minor role, rather than the hero who is actually called Link. I did not have any direct experience with this fabulous entertainment until the events I describe below.
I had heard of the game, of course. There are so many parodies and fan-made movies of Legend of Zelda out there, from which I guessed the basic premises of the story. At one point, I decided I wanted more than just the basic premises and wanted the full story from an actual game.  Dumbtechgeek rented Twilight Princess from Blockbuster, and he played through the majority of the game over a six-day period while I watched. I liked the story, the pretty graphics, and the puzzle elements in the game. I remarked, “I could like this game for the story and all its puzzles, if only there weren’t so much fighting.”

Some time after this, I decided I will try a Zelda game myself. I chose Ocarina of Time because it is an iconic, almost classic Zelda game. Everybody, supposedly, has played it, and one need not be a hard-core gamer in order to enjoy this game. I also had a hunch that this is the one that most of the parodies and fan-movies are based on. Dumbtechgeek bought Ocarina of Time for me.  I started a save file and named my hero Clarito (and subsequently imagined all the in-game dialogues in dramatic, foreign accents). Thus began my – and Clarito’s – adventure.

Clarito died many, many times. When I saw anything that attacked, I would mash the controller buttons and madly hack everything, often to Clarito’s demise. And ah, walking would have been the death of me! I could not make him walk in a straight line or on a path. Many a times he fell off bridges and narrow walkways (into a fiery pit, bottomless chasm, and that sort of thing). Shooting with  bow and arrow was another near-insurmountable difficulty. I could never shoot an arrow where I wanted.

I was often clueless about what to do next or how to get where; Clarito was stuck inside the Deku Tree for two days trying to figure out how to get into the basement. Ridiculous it may seem to you, but these things are not so obvious to a new gamer. Dumbtechgeek, an experienced gamer, gave helpful hints here and there to help progress the story. Two times I actually handed the controller to him: at the top level of the Fire Temple to get Megaton Hammer, and for the boss battle against Bongo Bongo in the Shadow Temple. At Fire Temple, I could not run along a narrow, circular ledge on a timer – I might have done it if there were no timer, perhaps.  And Bongo Bongo just was not fair, folks. Not fair. The music from that boss battle still haunts my memories.

I got a little better at fighting after I learned to calm down and time my attacks. I managed to walk slowly on narrow walkways, though I could never run on them. I made up for my lack of marksmanship by first aiming with a Hookshot or a Longshot  (both of which show a red dot where it is aimed, like a laser) and then switching to bow and arrow. I greatly enjoyed all the puzzle-like elements in the game. The water temple was my favorite, and I am proud to say I beat its boss by myself without any help and died only three times in battle (aren’t fairies wonderful?). I even beat the final boss battle on my fifth or sixth try.

As it turns out, I did like the adventure. I am amazed that someone made a fighting-type, quest-minded game that even a slow gamer like me can fully enjoy. I am looking forward to the new Legend of Zelda game coming out.  Not that I will jump on playing it immediately; now that we have set the precedent, we  will have to follow the tradition of Dumbtechgeek playing it first, while I watch the story of Legend of  Zelda unfold.

aRandomStudent: Indiana State Fair

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I have recently been to the Indiana State Fair. From this day trip, my esteem of the word “Fair” has risen from “an outdoorsy event where individuals gather to set up booths and sell Beanie Babies, Happy Meal toy collections, and pets” to “an outdoorsy event with livestock, sideshows, and junk food of all sorts, where fun might be had as long as one’s energy lasts.”

One day Dumbtechgeek suggested that we go to the State Fair. It sounded fun, though I am not sure why, given my then-current definition of the word “Fair.” Perhaps so many years without a fair persuaded me into giving a Fair another try. Or perhaps I was lured by the prospect of deep fat fried Twinkies. I always have a soft spot for trying foods savored by fictional people, though right now I cannot remember exactly who liked fried Twinkies so much.

The day that we — Dumbtechgeek, his mother, grandmother, and I — went to the State Fair started out so nice and cool with a pancake breakfast. Maybe I should have taken a fried Twinkie instead. It soon got too hot to eat anything warm. After lunch, I lost all appetite and could not even think about a corn dog or any other fried treats; but I did not know this would happen. The heat I anticipated, but I did not imagine I would say no to a fried Twinkie.

We saw rabbits, ducks, turkeys, and chickens of all sizes and colors. I heard, for the first time, a turkey gobble. I saw goats, cows, boars, pigs, piglets, draft horses (they should be called giant horses) and sheep. Now, sheep are interesting animals. They do not say “baah,” but they say “weh,” with a nasal tone. A brochure I read said a six-month old baby sheep will weigh about 120 pounds. Incredible, are they not? I got to see sheep in various stages from freshly shorn to fluffy. I also got to touch real wool from a real sheep, and it felt fluffy, greasy, and — pardon my language — fake. It looked and felt a lot like the fake fur you see on stuffed animal toys or the spider-web decoration you use at Halloween. I expected wool to be more cottony and soft; but if it were, we would call it cotton, not wool, huh?

Look, a blue turkey!

One of the things that raised the State Fair greatly in my esteem: the cleanliness. All the animal barns were very well ventilated and cool. Animals smelled very little or not at all. There were also plenty of clean, well-maintained restrooms. I never had to use a portable toilet. In addition to restrooms, there were hand-washing stations and hand-sanitizer dispensers throughout the fairground. It was very easy to clean my hands after petting animals and before eating food.

Dumbtechgeek’s father joined us at the Fair by lunchtime. For lunch, I was expecting barbeque and root beer, for I heard there would be a barbeque competition and a root beer garden. But alas! Competition barbeque was not for sale, the only barbeque booth I found had long lines, and I never found the fabled root beer garden. I settled for a hotdog.

Aside from seeing animals and eating food, we also watched tap-dancing performance by some really cool senior citizens. We watched a dog race, and I won a Frisbee for answering a question (Laika is the name of the first dog to reach orbit. I learned this from reading a webcomic. It is a tragic story. We received recipe cards, buttons, and grocery bags (Bean there, done that). We took a trolley ride around the fairground. We looked around in lots of shops, though we hardly bought anything. We visited the Pioneer Village, which I would say was my favorite attraction. I could have spent hours there being mesmerized by the spinning wheel, and would have bought a bag a grits from their mill if they had them. If I go to Indiana State Fair again, I am definitely going to see the Pioneer Village again.

Our day at the Fair drew to a close as we all got too hot and tired. Even I, slower to react to heat than others, had to sit down with a large iced tea just to get enough energy to start walking again. I was positively exhausted! We quit the Fair without enjoying everything it had to offer. We missed at least three sideshows we meant to see, did not taste any never-before-tried fried junk foods, and left many possible activities unexplored. We could only comfort ourselves by saying there will be other chances.

Don’t Start A Project, It Will Turn Into A Yarn-ball

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Some time ago, it occurred to me that it would be very nice to have a floor rug. After searching the internet and finding a brilliantly simple way of making a floor rug by crocheting strips of fabric, I concluded I could have fun and save money by making a rug to my own taste rather than purchasing one.

I went to a thrift store and bought a quantity of scrap fabric for a low price; bought the biggest crochet hook that the big box store offered; and tried crocheting a small strip of fabric into a square, just to make sure the whole plan was feasible. Some months after the plan (named “the Rag Rug Project”) was conceived, I cut my scraps of fabric into strips, arranged them by color, pinned the ends together while carefully mixing the colors, and hand-sewed the ends together until I had one long piece of multicolored fabric “yarn” to crochet.

Only it wouldn’t crochet.

The “yarn” was simply too thick. I had forgotten about the small sample I had tried before, and cut the strips of fabric far too wide. Trying to crochet with the “yarn” made the back of my hand cramp, and even if I had stronger hands, the resulting rug would have been far too bumpy to be practical. I had to give up on the Rag Rug Project and roll up the “yarn.” Just the act of rolling the failed “yarn” into a ball took two hours, or about the time it takes to watch the new Karate Kid.

The yarn-ball, standing 1 foot tall, weighing 12 pounds, and fit for a tiger cub, now decorates a corner of our living room as a piece of abstract art. It also serves as a very uncomfortable stool in a pinch.

Book Review: City Of Dreaming Books

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First post by Clara π (a.k.a. aRandomStudent). Enjoy!

The Cover That Grabbed My Attention

Books, books, books! A city full of streets of bookshops full of shelves upon shelves full of books. And if that is not enough, there is a whole underground city, a complex network of caves and secret places, that are hiding very, very old books that are asleep and just waiting to be discovered and read. The grandeur of a library on such a massive scale should be enough to send bibliophiles swooning. You know who you are, ordering half-priced books on-line and browsing the aisles of Barnes&Noble in glee. Enter Bookville, a.k.a. City of Dreaming Books – they have enough books to kill you.

In Walter Moërs’ fantastic tale of this Zamonian City, we follow the story of Optimus Yarnspinner, a writer-in-training from Lindworm castle. He may be a bit of an unexpected adventurer in a fantasy novel – He worries about germs; He is an inexperienced traveler; He really is more poetic than athletic, but it was his poetic soul that set him off on his journey to Bookville in the first place. And hey, he is a dragon.

I was first drawn to this book by the title (which I thought was romantic) and the cover art (and I later found out that Moërs draws all his own illustrations). Then I read the dust jacket, which told me this is a book about books. How fascinating is that! Yes, I admit I judged the book by its cover, but that didn’t turn out too bad this time, did it?

My favorite aspect of this story is the vastness of the underground caves and tunnels. So many books! So many unexplored mysteries and dangers! So, time after time, I have to pick up this book and send Optimus Yarnspinner blundering into traps and walking into dark, unlit hallways.

My second favorite aspect of this story is that it always makes me so hungry. There are only about a handful of foods worth salivating after, and they described only briefly, but it makes me want to bake a loaf of bread and smother it with butter, black pepper, honey, and toasted almonds… but I desist, lest I give you a false impression that this is a culinary literature. (Read Alchemaster’s Apprentice for a good example of culinary literature.)

I heard rumors of The City of Dreaming Books being made into a movie in Germany, but I don’t know what became of it. If you, too, like the world of Zamonia and would like to explore it more, there are other works available from Moërs, such as 13 ½ Lives of Captain BluebearRumo & His Miraculous Adventures , and Alchemaster’s Apprentice. I found it interesting to read all four of them and find recurring characters and landmarks that connect the otherwise unrelated stories. I certainly hope Moërs will “translate” more Zamonian tales.