Sunday, November 01, 2009


A very belated hello! I'm listening This American Life episode #388, entitled "Rest Stop"... good stuff! I used to listen to TAL while sewing, but stopped... can't remember why. Today I was working on a lino print and decided that the already wonderful crafting experience would be made even better with some good listening material. If you've never listened to TAL, I suggest checking out their page of favorite episodes first. Subscribing to their free podcast is also a good idea. :)

Since I haven't posted in a while, I thought I would show a couple of the lino prints I've done recently. Though you wouldn't know it by looking at my blog, I have been quite busy with crafts, especially printing and sewing. Salome and I even had our own craft day recently, which was great. Hopefully I'll have some news soon regarding our much anticipated (by us at least) website. In regards to the prints above, the bathtub was commissioned by my lovely sister, who wants to use it as a graphic on her blog. The slug print is the latest in a series of cards that I have in the works. I'm really pleased with how it turned out -- he's quite cute for a slug, no? -- though I'm not sure how often people send "sorry" cards. I might have to turn up the rudeness these next few weeks so that I have some good reasons to use them. Or maybe I should send cards to my readers to apologize for the three-month silence...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

pass me a kleenex!

Here's one of my recent sewing endeavors -- tissue box covers! I'm quite pleased with the way they turned out -- quick and easy, but they serve their purpose ... covering those tissue boxes (which in HK tend to be quite garrish). Now I'm considering making covers for other unsightly things... the stack of junk mail on the table, or maybe the pile of clothes in my room.

latest purchase

I bought these super cute cookie cutters at Ikea this morning... definitely not a premeditated purchase. I noticed the squirrel first. Then the moose. Cute, cute, I thought. Porcupine, even cuter. But even then, I figured I could do without them. And that's when I noticed the snail. Not sure why or when I developed a soft spot for molluscs, but I do indeed have one. I guess I'll have to throw a woodland-themed party sometime soon, and let these little guys see some action.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I've made a horrible, horrible discovery -- homemade ice-cream sandwiches. Cookies. Ice-cream. They are two things that, independently, I already had a dangerous liking for. Dangerous, because I have no self-control when either of them are in my kitchen. Now that they have combined forces, they are like a super-villain, and I am powerless against them...

The cookies pictured above are among my favorites -- oatmeal -- very similar to this Betty Crocker recipe, but sans walnuts, and with cinnamon added. The ice-cream is Dreyer's Vanilla.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Here's my latest lino print. This little guy might look harmless, but carving this print cost me: a deep puncture wound to my left index finger! Ouch! I guess sometimes I need a little reminding -- be careful when handling sharp objects!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

bach choir

My choir made it onto TV! Here's the clip:

Unfortunately there's a lot more footage of the orchestra than the choir, but oh well -- you can at least hear us!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

pouch bag

I purchased a card reader today, so can once again blog with pictures! Hooray! This is not the post I was planning to write the other day, because since then, I have had some major sewing inspiration!!

I borrowed a rather non-descript, fold-up grocery-store tote from my mom the other day, and was inspired to copy it using some fun fabric. So far, I've made two, and I'm really pleased with how they've turned out! I experienced some challenges -- I'm still getting used to sewing with bias tape, and my sewing machine decided to throw a couple tantrums -- but it was a positive experience overall. Here are the finished bags:

Folded up, to fit nicely in your purse.

Unfolded part way.

And in use! The little pouch doubles as a handy outside pocket.

I want to make some more, but will need to take a trip to Sham Shui Po first, to stock up on bias tape... in many colors!

I'm sure there are patterns out there for similar bags, but if anyone would like me to put up a tutorial, I'd be happy to share the steps, so that you can make one of your own.

Friday, May 22, 2009

recent travels

Since I can't post new photos, here are some older ones from recent travels, posted on FaceBook with links here for those poor, unfortunate, non-FB-using souls...
Taiwan: I went to Taipei and the Taroko Gorge with three friends for the long May Day weekend -- we had a blast!

Malaysia: I spent part of our March spring break at a conference in Kota Kinabalu... the other part was spent snorkling, exploring the rain forest, and sitting by the pool. It's a tough life...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

photo-free for the moment

I had a post in mind to write this evening, got to the photo-adding stage (step #1 for me), but found that my camera and computer are not on speaking terms. How sad! It looks like I may need a new USB cable, or -- what I'm leaning towards -- a card reader. So no more blogging from me for now. I'll take this as a sign from above that I should go to bed early.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

plant friends

One day I'd love to have a garden. A real garden. With soil to dig in. And included in said garden would be a decent-sized herb garden. I love fresh herbs, but am always reluctant to pay supermarket prices for them.
Until the real, get-my-hands-dirty-in-the-soil garden materializes, I'm determined to be happy with a potted indoor one. I just started the herb section of my indoor garden the other day (well, not counting the rosemary that I tried to grow that died almost immediately). I picked up some basil and mint the other day at the Mong Kok flower market. I'm hoping that the basil will really take off so that I can start harvesting some leaves. Basil seems to grow well in HK, as seen by the basil bush that my parents had growing in their yard a year or two ago. Hopefully being inside will not hinder my new Mr. Basil.
Basil. Grow like crazy, please.
Mint. I realized recently that I love the way a little mint tastes in a smoothie. Really. You should try it if you haven't. And then of course there are other favorites -- yogurt mint sauce... my mouth is watering.
And I don't think any part of this plant is edible, but I couldn't resist buying it. It looked so intriguing, just barely starting to bloom... I just had to see how the blooming would progress. If you know what this flower is and how I should care for it (i.e. will I need to regridgerate the bulb at some point?), please do share your tips.

I feel a little silly saying this, but these plants have made me so happy in the past couple of days. Even this morning, they looked so friendly and cheerful that I was tempted to call in sick and stay home with them. Yes, you heard me right... stay home with plants. Staying home with a human loved-one? Acceptable. Staying home with a pet? Well, if it's a creature as adorable as Templeton, people would probably at least understand. But a plant? I think I might have gone off the deep end...

Sunday, April 19, 2009


There are a lot of things I could and probably should update you on (though nothing life-changing like an amputated limb or an engagement). I realized after posting my pictures from Tianjin that there are a couple other trips I've taken this year that I have not shared via the blog. So I will attempt to get caught up on the travel side of life soon, or at least before my next trip, which will hopefully be in early May (spring traveling has been a bit on the excessive side, I know). But for now, here's a little craft update.

I wasn't feeling too well yesterday, so decided to stay home from church today and get some rest. The weather was conducive to staying in as well -- close to 100% humidity with periodic torential rain storms. Lovely. Definitely the time of year that one regrets any complaints about the coolness or dryness of winter.

I allowed myself to do only restful things today, and so, besides some reading and a moderate amount of cooking, I got back to work on a series of prints that I had started some time ago and not done anything with.

I designed them to be greeting cards, and am quite pleased with how they look. Some of them need some cleaning up, but overall I'm grateful that these got done with no major hiccups. I find that linoleum is so smooth to carve, that sometimes you end up cutting away more than you intended, and if that happens to be a part of a letter in a word, or a critical part of a picture, there's not much you can do to fix it.

This one is what I worked on for most of today (yes, these tend to be quite time-intensive for me, but maybe I'm just slow). The ice-cream cone idea came to me quite late in the process, but I'm very happy with the end result. I love ice-cream.

I did this one a few months back. It probably needs a little cleaning up, though I tend to like the imperfections and roughness...

Another one I did a few months ago. I still like the concept for this one, but wish the pencil was at a slightly different angle.
Another thank you card, also done a while back. Not sure this one fits nicely into the mix, but I guess I like it well enough.

So, if you have a birthday coming up (or one that I missed!), are expecting, or are owed a thank you card, there's a high probability that you will be receiving one of these soon.
On a related note, I might be selling some prints like these online in the near future. Sal and Kaiser have been working on a new website for us to use to sell our handmade goods. They showed me yesterday what they had come up with so far, and it looks great! (But how could it not, with Salome's artistic flare and Kaiser's web sense!) So stay tuned for some shop info, especially if you've been wanting to purchase a cozie, cards, and whatever else we end up selling!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

easter in tianjin

I'm making good on my promise to post photos of the kiddos. Here's a link to an album I created on Facebook... an album that even stubborn, non-FB users will be able to see. ;)

Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2009

taxi driver welcome

I'm in Tianjin at the moment, enjoying the long weekend with my sister and her family. I will post photos of the kids soon. But first, an account of my welcome back to Tianjin.


I landed in the TJ airport close to 1 am, disoriented and groggy after having slept almost the entire 3-hour flight from Shenzhen. I had told Amy that I felt comfortable finding a taxi and getting to their place on my own -- definitely didn't want anyone out that late to meet me -- and so, stumbled over to the airport taxi stand, ignoring the touts I passed on the way. I got in a reputable-looking taxi and did my best not to butcher Amy's address (it'd been 4 years since I'd visited (!!), but I hadn't forgotten how to say Fu Kang Hua Yuanr). I was still very tired, and would have happily napped there in the taxi, or stared mindlessly at the passing scenery... but very soon realized that would not be happening. Like most Chinese taxi drivers I've met, this gentleman was very friendly.

He seemed to consider me for a moment in the rear-view mirror, and soon the usual questions were flowing.

Where was I from? What did I do? Why was I visiting Tianjin?

A short pause.

How old was I this year? Any children?

I was a little confused by this question, because I had just finished telling him that I was here visiting my jie jie and her family. Was he asking about her, or me?

Oh, of course, me.

I said politely that I didn't have any children, and added that I wasn't married yet. This seemed to bother him.

Twenty-eight and still not married? Why not?

Let me just pause here and say that this is possibly my least favorite question to be asked. It's such a loaded question, and I'm never quite sure how to answer it. I get asked this question from time to time at school, by elementary girls, and am often tempted to say very dramatically, "Really? Do you really want to know?" And then go into an hour-long lecture about the many facets of singlehood and the possible reasons why I am still in its ranks, and how, when it comes down to it, I would much rather choose singleness over being married to someone I was less than crazy about.

But, since my Chinese is limited, I opted to tell the driver that I just hadn't met the right guy yet.

Once again he was incredulous. I guess it makes sense, though. I hear that a lot of women in China are spoiled for choice, what with the imbalanced male to female ratio. Unfortunately, I have no such ratio working in my favor. To show me how shocked he was by my situation, he repeated to himself a few times while shaking his head, "28 years old and still not married, no child. 28 years old..."

Maybe he sensed my annoyance, because soon he was trying to lift my spirits. Did I at least have a boyfriend?


Even longer awkward silence.

At this point, I think he must have begun analyzing why someone as old as me would still be unmarried. He said something to me that I couldn't fully understand. "You Westerners don't care much about ___."

I told him that I didn't understand and asked him to explain.

"I think you foreign girls don't care much about fixing your hair, wearing nice clothes, putting on make-up. Is that right?"



I took a deep breath and told myself that I wasn't going to take this personally, even though I was probably the basis for this impression of his. Another deep breath, and I told him that no, a lot of Western girls cared a lot about their appearance. "Right now I don't care about my appearance very much, because I'm very tired, and I've been on a plane for three hours."

It must have been obvious that in spite of myself, I'd taken his comment personally. His next words were almost apologetic. "Yes, I'm sure when you go to work, I'm sure you look very pretty... very pretty."


So thank you Mr. Taxi Driver. I will work hard on making myself more presentable, and if you know of any eligible bachelors, be sure to send them my way.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

visit from sharon and roger

I just realized that I had this post-in-the-works that never got published. Oops.

Back in February, we had a visit from my dad's second cousin, Sharon, and her husband Roger. They were taking a cruise from Shanghai to SE Asia, and HK was one of their ports of call. I had the pleasure of visiting them in Wales last summer, but my parents hadn't gotten to meet them yet -- so we all had a great time catching up while seeing some of HK.

We took the Star Ferry over to Central, and then had dim sum at City Hall.

Then we took a minibus up to Victoria Peak. It was windy and a little hazy, but still a wonderful view!
From the Peak, I took Sharon and Roger to Stanley (though none of us ended up doing any shopping!), and then to TST for dinner. Here's Roger showing off his chop sticks skills.
Then we went back to the harbor to catch the light show. There was a beautiful light display out for Chinese New Year.
It was great to see you again, Roger and Sharon! Till next time!

day-tripping in macau

My blogging record has been appalling these past few months... anyone who's still actually following this blog or checking from time to time for updates -- please accept my apologies. I've had plenty of blog-worthy material, but little time and even less motivation to get things up. Maybe this post will be the new leaf that is figuratively turned..

I went to Macau yesterday, with friends Mike and Ken. We joined a service project sponsored by Mike's church, and spent a couple hours at an English center holding a free English corner for local adults and teens interested in improving their conversational English. The experience reminded me of my time teaching in Xianyang, where we would hold weekly English corners for our college students. To be honest, English corner wasn't always my favorite part of teaching. If I wasn't prepared with some topics to discuss, I would get stuck answering questions that were all too familiar (i.e. "Do you know how to use chopsticks?" "Do you like Chinese food?" "Which is better, China or America?"). But anyway, I ended up really enjoying the English corner yesterday, and found myself actually feeling quite nostalgic for those days in China (I think the fact that I've started rereading River Town is also a contributing factor). I got to talk to two very nice Chinese ladies -- one was from near Shanghai, and the other was born and raised in Madagascar(!!). We talked about everything from family to work, history to travel. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos from the event, but might be able to add some soon, if friends are kind enough to share theirs. :)

After the English Corner, most of the service group took a ferry back to Hong Kong, but Mike, Ken and I headed to the Venetian -- the world's largest casino -- instead. I'd only ever seen the Venetian from afar, so was curious to go inside and see for myself what all the hype was about. We got there in time to get tickets for a matinee showing of the Cirque du Soleil show, Zaia. It was my first Cirque show, and wow, was it brilliant! But I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, because if I'd been paying attention to the signs, I would have known that it's "the most dazzling spectacle ever staged in Asia." (I suggested that Mike and Ken strike Zaia-esque poses, but apparently, this is the best they could come up with.)

After Zaia, we spent a bit of time checking out the Venetian. You could easily spend a couple days in this place and still not see everything. Thus the map that Mike is studying in the photo below. We made it to the actual casino section, and I had my heart set on playing one of the slot machines... but couldn't for the life of me figure it out! Maybe I should take that as a sign from above that I should never gamble.

After my poor luck with the slot machines, I decided that we couldn't leave until we'd at least found the canal that the Venetian is so famous for. Here are Mike and Ken standing on one of the many canal bridges. I've never been to Venice, but I'm sure it's just like this...
Look, it's a gondola!

And us on another bridge. Check out the amazing blue sky!

Then we headed out to my favorite restaurant -- Fernando's! We had quite a wait, but I think it was worth it. They have the best tomatoes... and garlic prawns... and sangria.

We left Fernando's with a decent amount of time to get back for our ferry. We had tickets for the last ferry to Kowloon, and thankfully didn't put ourselves through the stress of cutting it close. After an uneventful hour's ride (no sea-sickness either way -- hooray!), we were back in HK.

So that concludes this post about my very fun day in Macau. I have some catch-up posts in the works, but am not making any promises about how many of them will actually get written. But stay tuned! :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

happy valentine's day!

I celebrated the day by going on a very long hike with a few friends. It was a 24k trail that I've done before (Maclehose stages 4 and 5 in reverse -- Beacon Hill to Ma On Shan), but it seemed longer thanks to some very strange weather. Mist and fog covered the mountains for most of the day, giving us very low visibility (sometimes down to 20 ft!). Thankfully, the Maclehose is very well marked, otherwise I think we might have gotten lost. But the fog did obscure the normal landmarks, which made it hard to gauge how far we'd gone... which gave it that general is-this-ever-going-to-be-over sort of feeling. Anyway, it was still a good hike and a fun day. I needed to do a longer hike to help me prepare for the Green Power 50k, which I'll be doing again this year. It's coming up in just 2 weeks -- February 28th.

Another V-day highlight involved some very romantic text messages that I received... from my cell phone company! I should explain. Sometimes my service provider will send out cute little animated SMSes on various holidays, with the thought that I'll want to forward them to all my friends... which I never do. Anyway, for Valentine's day, not only did I receive one of those, I also got a couple text message poems that are very... umm... interesting. Take a look for yourself:

I lie awake in the dark... feeling your nearness,
your soft lips and the warmth of your touch.
I wish you're here with me.
Happy Valentine's Day.

You are hard to forget coz you were hard to get.
I never regret that I made your heart my target.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Grammatical errors aside, I can't imagine sending these to anyone. And frankly, the thought of a person forwarding a poem from their phone company to their significant other on Valentine's Day makes me want to cry. But the poems did provide a good chuckle after a long, tiring walk. Thank you Smartone-Vodafone!