Tuesday, July 31, 2007

tote for athania

The bag that I started making last week when the sewing machine stopped working was actually supposed to be a birthday present for Athania. Thankfully she was very understanding when I told her that her present would be a little bit late. Well, it is now finished, thanks to my other sewing machine. Yes, there have been two sewing machines all along... it took me a little longer to figure the second one out though. I'd tried it before and couldn't get it off the zig-zag stitch setting. But today, with a little experimentation (I'm an experiential-learner -- I'd rather just mess around with the knobs and switches than read any kind of manual -- Mom, if you're reading this, sorry for making your cringe!), I finally got straight stitches out of it!

Anyway, here's the bag (and since I finished it before dark-- a sewing first for me! -- I was able to take pictures outside!):
It's the same pink and green fabric that I've used before... but since Athania is a very vocal admirer of all things green, I decided to use predominantly green pieces. The lining is also green... but the pocket is Beacon Hill pink checks -- Athania and I are both BHS alumni! I decided to go for one long sectioned-off pocket this time, and have to say that I'm quite pleased with the way it looks.
Athania, I'm posting this with the assumption that you won't see this before I actually give you the bag tomorrow... but if you do, I hope you like it, and happy birthday!

Monday, July 30, 2007

day at the beach

I start new teacher orientation tomorrow, so was eager to do something fun on my day of vacation. Thankfully, Athania and her cousin Gloria were game for something fun, so the three of us set off to Hap Mun Beach. This was my third time there. (1st time, 2nd time)

Gloria and me on the boat.

Athania and me on the boat.
Athania's self-portrait beach shot. And I'm pretty sure she didn't intentionally include the speedo-ed gentleman behind her...
Here I am standing by a rock with some interesting clouds in the background. Was that the dragon or the turtle, Athania?
The obligatory victory shot.

We each enjoyed our own bottles of Pocari Sweat. It was a hot day, and we needed the electrolytes... but no harm done because I love the stuff! I think I might have to devote an entire post to Pocari Sweat sometime soon... that'll be a winner for sure.
Somehow I managed not to get any good pictures of the beach this time. But it looks about the same as it did in June, and last year, so you can check out those earlier posts if you're interested. However, I did get this nice shot of the beach framed by this jack-hammer/digger contraption (wow, I wish my nephew was here to tell me what this is!). Yes, there was one of these at the beach. You come to places like this to relax and get away from the noise of the city, but then the noise of the city comes to you. Thankfully, as true HK girls (I'm including you, Gloria, here too), we managed to tune out the constant drilling quite easily.
Thanks for such a lovely day, ladies!

summer school

I had my last day of summer school on Friday -- here are some pictures.

This is me with the yellow class (one of five classes that I taught each day). As you can probably tell from the photo, this class had quite a few characters in it... most notably, the child that I'm holding on to with two hands (btw, I think he's making that face just to be funny, not because he's in pain...).
Here I am with one of the older classes -- the green class. Getting these photos taken at all was quite chaotic...

Here's "Mr. Preston," my TA, with the white class. Cute!

The Horton Hatches the Egg books (that I blogged about earlier -- link) turned out to be a big success -- definitely worth the hours I put in assembling them. Before the kids started drawing, they had to put the parts of the story in order (there were easy and hard versions), then cut and paste the parts into their books. This step was pretty messy and time-consuming, with some kids needing more help than others... but somehow we got through it! When they finished sticking, they could start illustrating their books. I loved the pictures some of them came up with! I wish I'd been able to get more shots of the kids with their books -- but here are a few.

These two girls are showing their favorite parts of the story.
This was a "show me your silliest elephant" photo.
I think the kids enjoyed making the books, and at the end of the week they had something fun to take home. Thank you Dr. Seuss!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

type the sky

My weekend has finally begun, and I just spent the last twenty minutes or so attempting to catch up on some of the blogs that I read. I came across a really cool thing via Boing Boing (which isn't the least bit surprising-- it's "A Directory of Wonderful Things" afterall). Type the Sky -- a post from Slanted, a German online magazine -- the alphabet (with some bonus punctuation marks) made by looking up at buildings!

Amazing! I don't think I'll ever look at those little pieces of sky the same again...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

flying cat

I wasn't going to post anything today, but then I came across this on Shorpy, and there was no way I could resist. (This photo has a rather interesting story behind it too -- link).
I'd love to carry Templeton around in a little fabric-covered basket like this, with only his head sticking out... it's sort of a straight-jacket for cats, I suppose. Maybe I can make one...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

cinematheque and time to kill

I had a free ticket at the Cinematheque that was going to expire on the 31st of this month. I like this theater a lot, but today felt that I almost had to drag myself over there. Part of the problem was that, since it was a somewhat spontaneous decision, I had no idea what movies were playing, show times, etc., and I had visions of myself sitting through a movie that I really didn't want to see, or watching Harry Potter again just to avoid wasting the ticket. But fortunately for me, there was a movie I'd been wanting to see playing in the theater -- 2 Days in Paris.

The movie turned out to be pretty good. It reminded me a lot of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and not just because Julie Delpy is in it (she incidentally wrote and directed the movie too). It had the same kind of "real time" feel to it, as well as the same kind of witty pseudo-realistic dialog. But this time, instead of being about a chance romantic encounter or an unexpected reunion, this movie presents a couple who has been together for two years and is now questioning whether they even know each other. I wouldn't go as far as to recommend this movie (I think parts of it would be offensive to some), but there were a number of things that I really liked about it. One being that I loved how natural Julie Delpy looked throughout the movie. Frizzy hair, occasional bags under her eyes, etc. -- it's clear that she's very comfortable with herself. And though this might sound cliche, it's so nice to see an actress on screen who, beautiful as she is, looks like a real person.

I got to the theater at about 4:30, but the next showing of 2 Days in Paris was at 7:45. That meant a good 3 hours of time to kill. I should know by now to carry a book with me always, for unexpected situations like this... but unfortunately, hadn't been reading much lately. So, although I have a nice stack of books at home waiting to be read, I gave in and bought a book at Kubrick. It's a collection of nine short stories by J. D. Salinger. I hadn't read anything by him since high school when I read Catcher in the Rye, which was, and possibly still is, a favorite of mine. I got to read four of the stories today while waiting, and so far, feel that it was a good purchase.
During the three-hour wait, I also gave into a long-standing compulsion of mine and bought some stationery (well, just one card, actually). I'm putting a photo of it here because I like it so much! This collection of illustrations is called "Small is Beautiful" by Peter Suart.

I really don't need any more stationery, but it's really hard for me to resist adding to my "collection" when I see something that I like. And I do actually use it too. I love real letters, stamps, the whole deal. If you are doubtful, send me your address and I'll post something to you ASAP.

rice paper

Some of us got together after summer school today for a little Athania-birthday-lunch at Rice Paper. What a great place! Thanks Athania, for having a birthday and giving me an excuse to finally go there! :)

I wish I'd turned the flash on for this one, but oh well... there are worse things than being back-lit.
Place setting.
Our food. Modern Vietnamese = delicious!!
The dessert setting. With pretty coaster.
Our desserts. We'd originally planned to just order four, but after seeing us devour the appetizers and main courses, our kind waiter recommended that we go with five.
Here are the two that turned out to be my favorites: the "French kiss" (with a nice view of the restaurant decor in the background)...
...and the sticky banana pudding. Wow... just looking at this one is making me salivate...
Happy birthday Athania!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"you're a smart lady"

That's what one of my summer school students told me this morning. One of the classes was very impressed with the laminated pictures that I produced while we were discussing the story we read. One of the kids asked where I got them, and I shared the secrets of photocopying, colored pencils, and laminating (my new favorite past-time, btw!). Then came the "you're a smart lady" comment. But probably the funniest part of the exchange was when the kid "corrected" himself with, "I mean, a smart teenager." Not surprisingly, I was a little taken-aback by this child thinking that I was a teenager. But then I started thinking back to when I was 6 and I recall having no concept of age beyond the relative (i.e. younger than me, about the same age as me, older than me, and a lot older than me). I guess I probably fall into the "a lot older than me" category for this little boy, and amusingly, so do teenagers...
The pictures might look familiar -- they're from Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. I decided to read it to my classes because it's an entertaining story with a pretty easy-to-follow story line. The kids are going to be making their own [simplified] story books for the rest of the week. These little books were a labor of love... seriously. I hadn't figured out how I wanted to do them until my TA was long-gone, so I got to do all the stapling myslef... 135 books! I'm not thrilled about the amount of paper that went into these, but I'm hoping the books will be something the kids enjoy and actually look forward to taking home.

Monday, July 23, 2007

summer cleaning

I just bought a hamper at Ikea (my former laundry system wasn't very efficient...), and have decided to do a little cleaning and tidying of my online home (= this blog) as well. Each post is getting at least one label. I'm about 75% done... but it's quite a time-consuming process, considering my recent prolific-ness. And the fact that a good number of posts are getting the "miscellaneous" label makes me question the merit of my organizational system. How, for instance, will I label this post? I think we all know the answer to that...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

show and tell

I've been teaching a summer school reading class to 5-7 year-olds (1 week left!), and in preparation for the class, I borrowed a lot of children's books from the library. I love children's literature... I think I might have to start my own personal collection sometime soon.

Anyway, here's a book that was a childhood favorite of mine: Small Pig by Arnold Lobel. I love this book -- especially the illustrations -- so I thought I would share some of the highlights...
The story opens with Small Pig relaxing happily in the mud. But then conflict occurs when the obsessively clean farmer's wife decides to clean up the entire farm. Of course her compulsive behavior includes vacuuming up Small Pig's mud. (I LOVE her vacuum cleaner!)

Small Pig runs away from the farm on a quest for mud, or something as soothing and satisfying as mud.
Eventually he makes his way to the city. A great line: "'Even the air is dirty here... there is sure to be some good, soft mud nearby.'"
He soon finds some mud (but -- shhhh! -- it's actually wet cement!).

Small Pig gets stuck in the "mud," and soon all the city folk have gathered to stare at him.
A closer look at small pig. You can't help but feel for him here... doesn't his little face make you want to cry?

Eventually the farmer and his wife find small pig. I love the expressions on all three of their faces...

In the end, firemen are able to bust Small Pig out of the sidewalk, and he returns safely to the farm, where fresh mud is waiting for him.
The end.

surreal sunday

I was having a pretty average Sunday morning until I walked outside and down the hill to this: a burnt-out wreck-of-a-car, sitting in the middle of the road (!?).
That's the end of the story, for now at least. I don't know whose car it is (was?) or what happened to it. I apologize if you were expecting a more dramatic ending to this story...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

sewing with die hard and hell's kitchen

My [mom's] sewing machine isn't working (a problem with the bobbin, as far as I can tell), and I'm at a loss for what to do right now. I think I'll probably opt for going to bed early, but at the moment I'm quite intrigued by Die Hard 2. I turned the TV on a couple of hours ago because it gives me something to listen to while sewing (though, now I'm thinking that maybe I should try books on tape instead...). I just watched the scene where McLane's wife calls him on the airplane phone and they have an entertaining little discussion about the advances in 90's technology (i.e. fax machines and air phones), and of course there's the obligatory "This is the 90's!" sentence. It's also a bit of a time-capsule with respect to airport security (i.e. the old lady sitting next to his wife on the plane is carrying a stun gun -- am I right in recalling/predicting that it will play a pivotal part later in the movie?).

Before Die Hard 2 came on, I was watching Hell's Kitchen -- the reality show with the wanna-be chefs trying to stay on the good side of the cranky restaurant mogul/chef Gordon Ramsay. It can be quite a stressful show to watch, but since I was still sewing at that time, I wasn't paying much attention. One thing I did notice though, was how, whenever anything remotely negative occurred, the overly dramatic narrator (is that even the right word?) would utter such phrases as "after all, this is Hell's Kitchen" or "they don't call this Hell's Kitchen for nothing..." Stupid.

OK, I'm going to see what can be done with the sewing machine now...

something new under the sun

Whitening creams are pretty much dime-a-dozen in HK. In fact, for those of us not keen on being any whiter than we naturally are, it can even be quite difficult to find a moisturizer or face-wash that doesn't contain skin-bleaching agents. All that to say that I'm certainly familiar with the HK obsession with fair skin. But that didn't lessen the surprise that I felt when I noticed this ad at the check-out line in Park'n Shop. In case you can't tell, it's an advertisement for extra (!!) whitening deodorant. Besides the mild annoyance I felt over discovering yet another whitening product, I can't help but wonder who would actually buy this. Aren't armpits a relatively easy part of your body to keep white? I mean, even if someone was to try to tan their armpits, I think they'd have a pretty difficult time of it...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

reversible bag

Alright, for the two people out in cyberspace who are actually interested, here are a couple photos of the reversible bag I just made! I like these colors a lot, but am not sure that the flash on my camera does them justice.

I decided to go with a polka-dot fabric for the lining, and then figured that instead of just lining it, I might as well make it completely reversible.

This is the fifth bag I've made in a week, and it's pretty much become part of my daily routine to take out the sewing machine once the sun goes down. The process is going faster and is not surprisingly getting easier too... I think this bag took me less than 2 hours to cut and assemble (while half watching "Child of Our Time" and "House")... which is pretty good compared to the time it took me on some of the earlier ones. I guess I'll keep going with this hobby (obsession?) while I've got the time and the interest. Anyone need a bag?

small purse

I should be in bed right now, but felt the need to post some photos of this evening's creation. It's smaller than the other bags. I decided to try some different things with this one: single strap, inside pocket, and ribbon for closing off the bag.

Green side.
Pink side.

Here's a view of the little pocket, with my phone modeling the utility of it. I'm definitely partial to the Beacon Hill checks...
Bottom/side view. I sewed off the bottom corners again, to give it a more stable base.
This post isn't quite milestone-caliber, but I feel I should share: it's is my 200th post!

Monday, July 16, 2007

fur instead of fabric

Apparently, attempting to think of something non-fabric/craft/bag-related makes me revert to one of my other blogging tendencies -- pointless cat posts.

But maybe this one does have a point -- my parents will definitely appreciate the photo. I know that they're missing Templeton terribly right now while they're in the US.

my new addiction

It had been less than a week since I'd last gone to Sham Shui Po. I was nowhere near the end of my fabric supply... on the contrary... if someone had entered my room this morning, their first thought probably would have been that a giant fabric-eating monster must have entered at some point during the night and projectile vomited its entire stomach-contents all over my living area. I didn't need anymore fabric, but somehow I convinced myself that I would be needing more soon, and that I should save myself future trouble by going to Sham Shui Po today.

I went directly to the trusty fabric shop and immediately started noticing possibilities.

The big blue print will make some bags; the stripy print, the lining for said bags; the other two will probably be incorporated into a quilt at some point...
I bought more of the heavy cotton I've been using for bag-making. And the two checked fabrics are what I plan to use as linings (my only legitimate reason for needing to go to SSP -- I really do need more lining...). I thought the brown and red check print was pretty fun, and fortunately matches the red and brown flower print almost perfectly. The pink checks take me back to my days at Beacon Hill School (I'll have to resist the temptation to sew it into a large, pleated, uniform dress). The small flowery design in the center will be used for a quilt at some point. If you actually got to the end of my fabric descriptions and are actually interested in fabric, sewing, and craft projects -- yay! Me too! But if you didn't make it through (which incidentally means that you're probably not reading this now...), or you did read it, but only because you're a masochist, let me assure you that my blog has not permanently turned into a craft blog. I probably will write about other things again at some point in the not-so-distant future...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

tote #3

I just finished bag #3 (bag #2 was very similar to bag #1) and am quite pleased! I decided to make this one a very basic tote with no lining (I'm going to cover up the rough seam edges with ribbon at some point...). Here it is:

I tried some new things with this one: sewed off the bottom corners to give it more of a square base, so it's easier to fit more inside.

And sewed little X's at the base of the straps for added support.

If you can't tell, I'm really enjoying the bag-making! I like the design challenge and the creative outlet it provides, as well as the sense of accomplishment from making something useful. And then of course, there's the fact that it all takes a relatively short amount of time. Yay!