Sunday, January 31, 2010

She's here!

The much anticipated Uri finally arrived a few days ago. She came well protected against injury with what my husband fondly calls her accident victim head device. Even though I have admired BJD's for years, I never thought I would be able to own one. But Christmas money went a long way towards bringing Uri home to live with us.
What is a BJD?
BJD stands for Ball-Joint Doll. Ball-joint dolls have articulated ball and joint sockets which means they can be posed in very life-like attitudes. They are cast from a hard, dense plastic (resin) and can be customized with painting and changing their eyes, hair, and clothing. These dolls are mostly produced in South Korea and Japan, but China has also entered the BJD market.

Uri is a Custom House Ange Ai BJD. She is about 25 cm or 10 in.
Right now she has lovely blues eyes, but I'd like to switch to brown and a black wig, in the hopes of making her appearance more Chinese. You might have noticed from the pictures that Uri lost an eyelash some time between box opening and photo shoot. Amazingly my husband spotted it on our blue carpet. I guess my first task will be learning to attach eyelashes.

I have dressed Uri in a pink bandanna à la Hitty Preble* until I can buy or make her some clothes. She is truly a delight.
*Hitty Her First Hundred Years (Chapter 8 - "In Which I Am Lost in India") by Rachel Field, lovely illustrations By Dorothy Lathrop

Saturday, January 30, 2010

One World One Heart Giveaway - More

I've spent most of the day blog browsing. Since I am fairly new to regular blogging and wanted to meet other bloggers, I decided to participate in the "One World One Heart Giveaway" hosted by Lisa Swifka. (She created the event in 2007.) She's gone from about 90 participants in the inaugural year to over 900 last year. I am truly amazed at the imagination, creativity, variety, warmth and humor of bloggers out there. Please be sure to check out the site by clicking above or on my side bar to learn more and board the magic carpet ride.

I'm also thrilled that I am #808 since eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture.

One new thing I am learning about as a result of this giveaway:

Thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to drop by and introduce themselves!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One World One Heart Giveaway

This stop on your magic carpet ride brings you to Southwest China....
a world of beautiful mountainous landscapes & densely populated cities

smiling faces

colorful people

25 of China's 56 nationally recognized minority groups reside here. Representing unique cultures and traditions; many of these minorities have excelled in the creation of vibrantly embroidered handwork.

This year, Chinese New Year (which is based on the Lunar Calendar) falls on February 14th, Valentine's Day. The people here will be celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Tiger with fireworks, family meals together (which may or may not include spring rolls, dumplings, sweet sticky rice balls, and New Year's cake), and trips home to their loved ones. Some may also go on day outings. School children will have about a month or more of holiday and their parents a week off from work. Countless small shops and markets will close for 3-7 days. In remembrance of your visit, one of you will receive a silver Fú (foo) 福 charm which means "Blessing." Doors and windows all over the country will be decorated with red paper cuts, children & tiger figures, or banners containing this character. Some hang the 福 upside down encouraging the blessing to pour out. Red is the color of Chinese New Year and also the color of the envelops filled with gift money that the children happily receive (hóngbāo s 红包). You will also receive a locally made small hand embroidered purse.

As you depart southward on your carpet ride, please be sure to linger long enough to look down and see the lights of Hong Kong.

Remember to leave a comment to enter your name in the giveaway. I will randomly pick the winner around 12midnight EST and make the announcement on February 15th 2010.
Thank you for dropping in.


Confession.... I love trying on new backgrounds. If you have visited my blog more than once, you may have wondered at its ever-changing looks. It delights my heart and satisfies my design-appreciating eyes to try out the creative ideas of other bloggers. There is an overwhelming number of amazing free backgrounds out there in web-land. Some times, I'm tempted to create a new blog just to suit a beautiful theme I happen upon. I have a list below of my current favorite sites. (Of course, I located my first favorites by clicking on the blog background icons present on the pages of blogs I admire.)

The Background Fairy Also has another site posting vintage images.

The Cutest Blog on the Block This was the first free background site I stumbled across via several friends' lovely blogs. It is a standard for me that I regularly go back too.

Daisy Gray Design Simple, classic backgrounds.

Debscraft The header at the top of this post comes from this site which features Suzanne Woolcott's artwork. Her dark-eyed girls remind me of the cute Japanese and Korean illustration that is popular where I live.

Hot bliggity Blog Incredible number of free backgrounds.

Ivy's Inspirations Blog Backgrounds Very pretty vintage look backgrounds.

Leelou Free Blog Layout My current background comes from this site.

My Style Backgrounds Many nice backgrounds, with several blank white text area options.

Paisley Cat Scraps Unique vintage scrap backgrounds & lots of ideas.

Maybe, like some of you, I can learn to make a lovely original layout all my own.

Happy Blogging!

Thankful Thursday - #s 21-30

I am thankful...

21. that my travelers returned safe and sound - my son from snowboarding with 2 x 10-12 hour sleeper bus* rides & my husband from a week out of the country working on our new visas.

After Last Year's Trip
22.for a kind and thoughtful mother-in-law & grandmother to the boys, who treats me like a true daughter and serves as a wonderful role model. She also called this week. :)

23. for the many patient and loving individuals who have invested in who I am now and will be.

24.for the privilege and adventure of living on the other side of the world from my home country.

25.for a lovely yellow house on a hill, waiting for me.

26.for the convenience of city living; where most apartment complexes have mini-marts, vegetable & meat markets, grocery stores, and restaurants within reasonable walking distance.

27.for 15lbs of Korean refined sugar and15lbs of flour bought from my friend whose coffers ranneth over from a bulk supply order.

28.for friendship

29.for my family far away who keeps me in their hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

30.for the whole-hearted commitment of male and female adult leaders who serve the city-wide middle school & high school youth program. They came a long way, for little or no pay, and lots of eternal repercussions.

*Interior of a Sleeper Bus
Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Work in Progress - Beginnings

Look what I made! I know this motif is probably not all that impressive to those of you who really know what you're doing, but I was just so proud of myself for figuring out how to read the pattern. Only 28 more (and a lot of chain stitches) to go. I'll post more about this pattern as I hopefully progress. (Aren't the towels my friend embroidered for me sweet?)

I have also been attempting to learn to make hearts, but they don't seem to be coming out quite right. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Got the Blues?

I was feeling a little blue yesterday, but the sun decided to shine bright and cheerfully this morning like a hopeful promise.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Night Movie

While trying to figure out a movie that the teenage boys and I could watch and enjoy, we came up with "That Thing You Do." Music and humor are definitely age and gender transcenders; especially when the story line follows that of a small town band's rise from obscurity to fame (every guy's secret dream). For my part, I love the 60's style rock-n-roll, the subtle romance, and overall retro look of the film. My vintage-loving eyes soak up the details of each scene, and it still amazes me that they could recreate the world of 50 years ago. Anyway, I fixed some retro popcorn (the kind you make in a pot with oil) and we spent a fun evening hanging out together. If you haven't watched this movie in a while, it's worth pulling out and enjoying again.

Parental guidance: some bad language, alcohol misusage, and mild sexual inferences
Would not recommend the newer rerelease that includes deleted scenes that deserved to be deleted.

You can also check out the review at Plugged In Online.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Margaret's Pound Cake

This Fall I brought this recipe back from my mother's kitchen. It makes an easy and delicious small pound cake. Instead of pouring the batter into a tube pan, I use two medium-sized bread pans. Margaret is one of my mother's dearest friends and a wealth of elegant "made from scratch" recipes. I checked online to be sure I wasn't giving away any family secrets and found several pound cake recipes with evaporated milk; so I think it's okay to share:

Thank you to Helena Normark of Graphic Garden for this sweet recipe card. She has many other lovely graphics for sale on her site.

Flashback Friday - Katie 1999-2000

Katie as a kitten.

When the boys were small, we lived two years in Thailand. My husband's work required that he travel quite a bit, and my oldest son started 1st grade. We acquired a very sweet and beautiful Calico which we renamed Molly. But I was still a little lonely. Often, after the younger boys and I finished grocery shopping at Carrefore, we would stop in the small pet shop on the bottom floor of the building. One little black kitten there, in particular, tugged at our heartstrings. Whenever we approached, she would come up to the side of the cage, stand up, and touch her paw to my fingertip. So one day, while my forbearing husband was away, we brought her home with us. It took our mature, senior cat, Molly, and Katie (our new kitten) a while to adjust to each other. Much to Molly's chagrin, Katie was quite playful and took great joy in pouncing on and generally irritating her. In the course of asserting her supremacy, Molly gave Katie a severe gash which necessitated a trip to the vet and stitches. From this incident on, our two pets were as mother and daughter.

Pregnant Katie

Both cats were dear to us, but Molly sort of drifted away (staying out for days at a time) as Katie grew up and had kittens of her own (twice). I'm not sure if Katie is typical of all Thai cats or not. She had sleek black fur and golden eyes. Her mew was incredibly loud like the sound of a crying toddler and she talked all the time. She had a warm, affectionate heart. Her "love language" must have been physical touch, and she was extremely perceptive and thoughtful. She birthed her first litter of kittens in the boys' sock tray and proved to be a very conscientious mother, grabbing her children by the scruff of their necks and attempting to drag them back upstairs when they had become big and frisky enough for us to take out to play.

The first litter.
When we moved back to China, Katie and Moses (her only kitten we had not given away) had to stay behind. They went to roam and explore the new smells and wild life at a friend's rural Thai farm.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thankful Thursday - #s 11-20

It has been a little more work to cultivate a thankful heart this week. But here is my list which I'm sure only scratches the surface of what could be said.

I am thankful for:

11.Encouragement and accountability to "be still" and acknowledge all that I have to be thankful for.

12.God's perception, assessment, approval of me being totally based on His Love and Grace and not on what I can do (particularly when I feel discouraged, behind the ball, or overwhelmed).

13.Transplanted New Orleans' friends that share their King Cake.

14.Teachers and counselors who genuinely care for my boys and communicate with us.

15.A doctor participating in this weekend's boy scout ski trip that my youngest broke his wrist snowboarding on last year :).

16.A package with a new doll arriving some time soon to look forward to.

17.Blog posting which can look so neat and pretty on the page and allows me to express my thoughts, feelings, hopes, and memories.

18.A family I love and who, amazingly enough, loves me.

19.A new day in which the concerns of last night, though still present, don't seem so large and daunting.

20.Genuine, caring friends.

Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Work in Progress

Marie Anne at Every Day Crochet is hosting a Work in Progress Wednesday. I've been working on a scarf in natural from the Wavy Edge Shells Skinny Scarf pattern by Sandi Marshall (merely requiring a long chain and five double crochets to one single crochet every third stitch). I should be finished by now; but I had to set it aside when I ran out of yarn, and just haven't picked it up again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning to Crochet

This past July while my husband was traveling, I decided to see if I could learn to crochet. I was greatly motivated by the lovely crochet work of a dear friend and mentor in all things related to being a loving wife & making the home a place of hospitality and beauty. Unfortunately she doesn't live very close by. So with the help of the internet and YouTube, I went about the learning process. I am extremely grateful to:'s free crochet lesson's page which includes illustrated stitches and a chart explaining crochet abbreviations. Many excellent and helpful links usually with photos. About also hosts some free crochet patterns.

The Knitwitch on YouTube - Crochet videos!

Crochet Pattern Central for free crochet patterns.

Below is a picture of a headscarf, the first thing I actually made (before I realized that you were supposed to pick up both strings of the loop with the hook and not just the front or the back ones). I also decreased in this pattern, but I'm still not certain whether I did it correctly or not.

You can find instructions for this pattern by Sandi Marshall at Single Crochet Triangle Scarf Pattern.

I recently finished a scarf that I crocheted out of some milk cotton which I picked up on a visit to WanChai Market in Hong Kong. Not being familiar with different kinds of yarns, I had never heard of milk cotton. One website said that this kind of cotton yarn is really soft because it contains 30% milk protein. I just know it had a nice feel and color mixture. I don't often know the weight of the yarn I am using, but I really like working with cotton. This pattern was easy and fun to crochet.

Free pattern by Marie Anne St. Jean is called One Skein Scarf to Crochet. I did use about one and a half large balls of yarn for mine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Things I am thankful for:

1.The way my husband cares for me and playfully makes me laugh.

2.The guitar music and sounds of singing coming from my 15 yr old's room.

3.Broken cabinet drawers and closet doors noticed and mended by my youngest son.

4.A smile shared with my oldest as we listen to his newly created piano track.

5.Conversations in our livingroom with friends visiting from the states.

6.A faithful, warm, fluff of a dog curled up at my side.

7.Chocolate brownies made with peanutbutter chips (brought back from my last visit home).

8.Lovely vintage images on The Graphics Fairy.

9.Space heaters on a cold winter morning.

10.The beach somewhere with soft white sand, over-hanging palms, clear aqua waters, and warm sunshine.

Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Angel Ornaments

I learned about Mosaic Monday from Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses, but the actual hosting site for this event is Little Red House. As it turns out, mosaics (or collages) are harder to create than you might, at first glance, think. I used the photo editing program, PhotoImpact, to design a collage of my angel ornament collection. Things really progressed once I discovered the "stitch" option under the Edit tab and remembered to write down my cropped and/or reduced photo sizes. It also would have been better, I think, if I hadn't been determined to use pictures of various heights and widths. Obviously, I am still figuring this out; so I wont link to the Little Red House blogsite yet. But you should go there and check out the other lovely designs.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Taking down the Tree

We've been taking down the tree for a few days now. Putting away ornaments gave me a chance to take some pictures of my collection of angels. Now, I'm not truly a big angel person. It all began when we first moved to this part of China over 10 years ago. Christmas is not an officially recognized holiday here as no one gets off from school or work. All those years ago, it was difficult to find a Christmas tree and decorations. (Even now there are no Christmas tree lots selling well groomed, pungent cut firs.) There was, however, one Japanese department store in the city which carried a few fake trees (financially out of reach) and ornaments. I searched through those ornaments trying to find something that had anything to do with the Christmas story and found this little angel.

It was my first Christmas in this new and different place. Since then I have tried to add an angel to my collection each year. In recent years Christmas has come more to the forefront here in that people are aware of Santa and gift giving. Often a taxi driver will tell me how Christmas is much like Chinese New Year, and I try to explain the ways the two holidays are alike and different. Some shops, stores, and malls will put up decorations. This year 7up built a huge Christmas tree out of empty green soda bottles at one venue downtown. People may go out for a special meal, but that's about it. We did finally acquire a nice fake tree many years back when they became more common. Seems that it came from Russia. So that brings me back around to taking down the tree. Still have a long way to go.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who Knew

With the coming on of the New Year (and completion of a decade at that), a few thoughtful friends have written reliving events we were involved in together 10 years ago. They referenced us being in the states during Y2K, and I looked at my husband and said, " I totally don't remember this." His reply was something like, "Sure you do, I was brought home for a meeting and we all went to celebrate Christmas and New Year's." Then it came back to me as fresh as yesterday. December 1999 was the year that we learned that our son had Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. We had been living in Thailand at the time and his terrifically sharp 1st grade teacher had noticed that he was just a little bit different - some times in his own world and some times taking all the other students along with him. His fine motor skills were poor, and during clean up time she would often find him under the childsize table examining the colorful scraps of papers left over from art projects. That was the year they started the "Bug Club" in his class; because he was fascinated with creepy crawlies, moths, and butterflies. We had always known that he was unique (as each of our children have proved to be); but he, particularly, had a world of imagination that he could move in and out of and share. Many times when he was imagining, he would run back and forth waving his fingers. We had asked a counselor about this before, but had never been given any reason to pursue it. Anyway, my husband was away at his meeting when I took my son to a wonderful lady psychiatrist in my home town. She confirmed a diagnosis of Aspergers, some thing we had never heard of before. We both googled it in our separate locations and, as at the time the only information available included the most serious and bleak scenarios, began to let the diagnosis sink in. Our responses were very different. I remember feeling some sort of relief like being given a key to better understand, discipline, and care for our vibrant son. I remember my husband broke down as we talked about it on the phone. He was thinking of all the relational experiences that our son would never have. As it turns out (10 years later), some things have been much harder than I could ever have imagined; but most things have been more amazing than we could have foreseen. We have three extremely special, unique sons; with varying and tremendous strengths and some weaknesses, and all have been blessed with great friendships.

Da Boyz Christmas 1999

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I named this blog based on a question from one of our family's favorite stories, "Jenny and the Cat Club." In this endearing book by Esther Averill, a shy black cat named Jenny Linsky, with the help of her kindly captain, comes to make friends and have adventures....

"Well, Jenny, wouldn't you like to join the Cat Club?" asked the twins. They did not give her time to answer. They whisked her off between them. But when they reached the meeting ground, fear overcame her. All the other cats were there, staring at her with their gleaming eyes, as if to say,

"And what can you do, little black cat? WHAT CAN YOU DO?"

This was too much for Jenny. She gave a yowl of terror and fled home.

I feel so much like Jenny. There are so many beautiful things I am interested in: writing, drawing, sewing, crochet, and dolls (lots of dolls, especially cloth ones); but I am afraid - as many of these things I am untested in, few have I even given a good serious try. But here I am with the longing and the fear to move forward.

The sweet drawing above comes from The Cat Club written and illustrated by Esther Averill, first published by Harper in Row, 1944. Some other editions include one published by Scholastic Book Services and, more recently, by New York Review Children's Collection. Esther Averill wrote many other delightful cat stories as well.


Related Posts with Thumbnails