Friday, April 30, 2010

Five Things to be Happy for this Friday

Well, that it IS Friday. The last day of the week with a glorious view in to wonderful Saturday (even though my oldest has SATs tomorrow at 8am) and a three day weekend because of 劳动节 or 五一节, Labor Day or May 1st Holiday. It's also an absolutely lovely, warm, sunshine-y day. I am happy that May is so close at hand which means the end of the school year is fast approaching, as well as our visit to family and friends in the states. And finally, I'm glad to be home from my travels and with most of my boys (though, I have to miss my dearest friend).

Besides, Uri-Grace finally has a "do" and some very sweet clothes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have always loved Orion the Hunter. Because it seems like no matter where I am in the world, I can look up into the night sky and find him there, and this gives me comfort. To be outside on a lonely dark verdant mountaintop and look up in to a diamond flecked velvet sky fills my heart with wonder and awe. But the ocean at night is my favorite...

Barefoot, she padded through the cold, soft sand. It gave way and shifted under her feet. Her plain knit skirt fell just to her knees. The sea oats brushed against her bare legs, but she didn’t notice. She pulled her sweater closer around her body. The blowing wind and crashing waves flooded her ears. There was nothing else. As the path ended the sand spread out before her. A nearby lamppost cast a pale beige ring on the beach. The ocean was loud, but dark before her. And the stars glistened endlessly across the unending backdrop of black sky. She walked past the circle of light, straight to the waves. The feel of the sand became more wet and mixed with the texture of crushed shell. The smell was strong – sweet and tangy. Her feet touched the receding waves. They were warm. Then the next wave rushed and foamed around her ankles. She was knee deep now. (excerpted from an old story I started and never finished)

I also need to confess that I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately while attempting to keep up with all the Alphabe-Thursday posts. And having been out of town last week, I am so way behind. It's not the posts - each one is so unique (creative; at times funny, thoughtful, or even tender) and often beautiful. It's my poor organization and time management. So I will try to do better. To find these awesome original posts click here. Alphabe-Thursday is hosted by the ever encouraging Jenny Matlock at ... off on my tangent...

Orion constellation image by s.thorton

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


N is for NǎiNai.

"NǎiNai" 奶奶 (pronounced nigh nigh) is the Chinese word for grandmother; literally - paternal grandmother. The retirement age for women living and working within cities in China is currently, 55. A singular most common sight, in any Chinese neighborhood across the country, would be a dark-haired, tiny toddler hobbling along with at least a grandmother; but perhaps also a grandfather, in tow. With the "one child policy" and because it is generally expected that both parents will work, many Chinese grandparents assume the responsibility of nurturing the next generation.

Countryside NǎiNai.... I don't think they ever retire.

Over ten years ago, when the boys were quite young and no children's books were to be found in our city, I sketched out a little story. I thought it might make a nice English language board book, giving little ones some flavor of life in China. I focused on the relationship between a girl and her grandmother (NǎiNai), and included pictures of common every day things. I thought about what I wanted each page to look like - with either drawn or photographed images. But my sketches were quite rough. With the creation of "Paint With Me Thursday" and this week's theme, Toys; I decided I would try to redraw my ideas. I am no real artist, though, *sigh* but here are some concept images of how it could be.

What did you call your grandmother when you were little?

Paint With Me Thursday is hosted by Simply Feather. (I hope a balloon counts for toys.) You can join in find other creations here. Next week's inspiration is "a word that you live by."
Alphabe-Thursday is hosted by Jenny at on my tangent... You can find more neat N posts here.

The NǎiNai photo was taken by a friend.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I will be away for a few days....

Actually, I have a doctor's appointment in another city. I wasn't going to take my computer, but now it seems best. So you may not even notice I'm gone. We'll see...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Matters of the heart

I just wanted to say thank you for the encouraging words written to me when I had a bad day this week. Love and kind words can change everything. For my part, I promise to continue to pursue gratefulness and to seek to share love and encouragement in my turn.... This said...
I am extremely grateful for you.

Thank you to The Graphics Fairy for this sweet image that I reworked a little bit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm afraid I haven't had a very thankful heart this Thursday. In fact, this afternoon found me compiling a dark list of grievances in my mind.... (Remember this is a No Whining blog.) Anyway, as I walked two blocks back (after disembarking at the wrong bus stop; and hitting my, by Asian standards, tall head on the exit doorframe), to the "Fakea" furniture store; I worked on my list.... Aches & pains and closed banks and being called a foreigner on sight... and why do we have to live here, again.... Okay, this is going downhill. As I walked and grumbled and grumbled and walked; a whiff of something wonderful and sweet tantalized my nostrils. In that instant my heart felt soothed and a tiny shoot of joy sprang up. I wish I could say this lovely fragrance transformed my entire outlook. It did not. But at least it reminded me there are things pure and pleasant and beautiful out there in this less than perfect world (if I look for them). For this truth and the day's unexpected gift, I am thankful.

You can find some genuine heartfelt thanks here at Rhondi's Rose Colored Glasses. I don't think I will link up this week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

M is for Mermaid

This week's theme for "Paint With Me Thursday" is Mood. I had been wanting to draw something magical, and when I put pencil to paper this was what came out. I'm not sure you could call Love a mood or honestly say that this picture depicts it. So I will say the mood is curiosity.

Here are a few more mermaid images - these depicting Hans Christian Andersen's sweet, sad fairytale The Little Mermaid.

This cover of one of my favorite books,* illustrated by British artist Margaret W. Tarrant (well-known for her depictions of fairies), shows the prince's discovery of the little heartsick sea maiden.

from The Little Mermaid (her treasure trove) illustrated by Edmund Dulac

To learn more about the Little Mermaid statue (Den lille havfrue) sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and located in the Copenhagen harbor click here. I love how she seems to be always watching and quietly waiting for her prince.

When I was a little girl, I spent the vast majority of my summer at our neighborhood pool imagining I was a real mermaid.

"Paint With Me Thursday" is hosted by Simply Feather. Other Mood artwork can be found here. Next week's theme is Toys; you should come play along.

"Alphabe-Thursday" is hosted by Jenny on my tangent... More M posts can be found here.

*Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales, With 16 Colour Plates by Margaret W. Tarrant, The Sunshine Series, Ward, Lock & Co., Limited, London, date unknown.
Dulac image courtesy of Vintage Printables
The Little Mermaid statue photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just Something Silly ...

The Princess Sleeps

The parade went by
the mosses grew
infatuated couples said,"I do."

And still the princess sleeps.

Writers filled
the breadth of pages
sculptures came to life in stages.

And still the princess sleeps.

Children sang
and launched great fleets

while proud old men rose from their seats.

And still the princess sleeps.

Buildings crumbled
beneath the sun
the prime minister said the game was won.*

And still the princess sleeps.

Who can wake her from her drowsing
who will douse and see her rousing
what dark spell beneath her keeps
Keeps her locked in eternal sleeps

Could it be her will's own doing
A self-taught hex her mind keeps brewing

Maybe you should, her advise...
how she could this sweet life revive.

And still the princess sleeps.

The Marching Band by kevindooley
Propelled by Nicholas T
Writing at cross purposes by Muffet
Antwerp, Sculpture Hall by Martin Beek
Having fun in music class iStockphoto
Will they float? by jronaldlee
South Dakota by The U.S. Army
mediterraneo by bachmont
Sleeping beauty by net efekt

*To find out more about The Game (which we all just lost, by the way) click here. Particularly note under the list of rules, a variation on ending The Game.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Brewster Brothers and a Dead Body

Opening Night... Arsenic and Old Lace:
Jonathan Brewster, Mortimer Brewster, & a corpse.

I've you've never had an opportunity to watch this play, and enjoy dark comedy; you should definitely check out the 1944 Frank Capra movie version starring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane.
Find it at

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Paint with Me - Umbrellas

Umbrellas were way harder to draw than I expected; and, as you can see, I still don't completely have them figured out. But it was fun to to be colorful; and I got inspiration from Feather's swirlies as well.
The sun is strong and bright in our part of the world today....
How about yours?

"Paint With Me Thursday" is hosted by Simply Feather. Take some time for art each week. You can join in and find other posts here.
Next week we're exploring Mood.

Thankful Thursday

This Thankful Thursday, I am grateful that my husband (who has been away traveling) and I got to spend a long, quiet day at home together. We looked just like this....
Well, not exactly; but we did have an uninterrupted hour sitting together on the couch, while I used my computer and he watched tv. Priceless.

When she's not enjoying Easter holidays with her family, you can share in "Thankful Thursdays" at Rhondi's Rose Colored Glasses.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I'm not sure if you can relate...

...But some times I feel this pressing urge to seek out and bring home some lovely or unique object - an unclaimed treasure yet to be known by others. Genetics are a probable culprit, because my mother is a great lover of beauty and from a young age included me on her antiquing adventures.

This compulsion is not limited to "things," either (though it usually manifests this way). I find it "necessary" to clean or redecorate our home in some attractive or beautiful way. Or feel anxious to get outside on a gorgeous spring day and explore and take photos. I may try to draw or write something heartfelt or romantic. If I was more skilled and visionary like many of you; I think I would sit and create for hours with a variety of materials: paper, cloth, lace, and beads....

As a young girl, I loved to get lost in the fantasy worlds I found in storybooks and then also within my self-constructed realms of make-believe. There is a bitter-sweetness to this impression which I can only describe as a quiet, gnawing sadness or feeling of homesickness.

Some times I wonder if it is more of a desire to runaway or escape, but not from any particularly bad thing here. More from daily life burdens and expectations or disappointments with myself and in to a more child-like, fairytale, carefree state.

The writer CS Lewis, mentions a similar yearning several times in his works....

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.
C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

I also love this quote from The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander,

"There is much to be known," said Adaon, "and above all much to be loved, be it the turn of the seasons or the shape of a river pebble. Indeed, the more we find to love, the more we add to the measure of our hearts."

L is for Longing.

I am joining Jenny Matlock ... off on her tangent... for Alphabe-Thursday. Please take a look at the other L posts and join in here.

Pebbles by nickellis74

Jenny Matlock

Work in Progress? Wednesday

Do you remember the old parable...

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him...."

Well, I'm not that well-planning man. I'm always getting in to the middle of crafts without having taken everything in to consideration. I get excited (some may say impatient) and plow ahead only to find there's some pertinent thing that I need. At this point, I often feel overwhelmed and give up in discouragment. (This latter consequence would be the reason why I, now, seldom get started in the first place.)

Anyway, such is the case with my crocheted afghan. Marie Anne created this lovely pattern. And I began it joyfully (actually, I did have to start over once); but soon realized that I was lacking the yarn to finish. I did go back to my favorite little corner knitting shop to see if they had any more skeins; but alas, the store was torn down. So now I am contemplating transforming my afghan into a scarf, but I'm not exactly sure how to finish it off. Any ideas?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mint Green with Envy Giveaway

Mint Green with Envy is hosting a wonderful giveaway featuring the jewelry artistry of Minasmoke. Her artwork has an Asian art nouveau-fairytale feel to it (if that's possible :) and is absolutely amazing. This current giveaway features her Sakura Set necklace and ring.

To find out the details and ways to enter click here. The contest ends at Midnight on the night of April 10, 2010.

Here are some more examples of her work:

Automne Necklace


Little Red Riding Hood Jewelry Box

Aren't they lovely! You can find out more about this artist at her blog, Minablog, as well. I hope you have enjoyed this little view of her creativity as much as I have in putting it together.

We'll miss you.

We said good-bye to dear friends yesterday. We avoided the actual parting words, but could not escape the wrenching of our hearts. Why? Why do our lives continue to weave in the color and vibrance of others only to have the garment ripped and left ragged. No, they are not gone forever.... There's e-mail, Skype, and Facebook - numerous ways to communicate in this age of internet and cell phone technology. But things will never be as they have been these past few years. We will not be the same. Change. To live fully means to embrace change, internally and externally. Some times we have foreknowledge and make efforts to prepare; some times it catches us totally by surprise and knocks the breathe from our bodies.

The following is a favorite quote about change (from a favorite movie, You've Got Mail).

"People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened.... In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But the truth is... I'm heartbroken."

It seems that in overseas life, people come and go with painful regularity. Every school year one or more of my boys loses a good friend (including this one). May we face our losses courageously, with genuine and appropriate grief; while at the same time keeping an open heart to the lessons of love and faithfulness we learn.

Butterfly with Daisy by Juliet Chase

Friday, April 2, 2010


I asked a friend with relatives living in the countryside if her family was doing okay during this drought. She replied that drinking water was plentiful in her village, but the crops (potatoes and wheat) were probably lost. She didn't know what would happen with the next planting season (corn) either. She also told me that she had heard about areas where drinking water was scarce. Countryside children often board away from home for late elementary and middle school; because there is no school in their village. Their parents may come visit on market days and the children make trips home on the weekends. My friend said that the government is providing bottled drinking water for the students in these schools. But she said, "It's sad." The children are limiting the amount they drink during the week and carrying the extra home for their families on the weekends.

Do I appreciate the water (juice or anything else) I so easily access and freely drink?

water bottles by shrff14
market town school by a friend

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Paint with Me - Nature

I've been thinking a lot about rain lately since Southwest China is currently experiencing a severe drought. You can read more about it here. Thankfully we've had a couple showers in the past few days, but we need so much more. Everything outside of the city is so dry. It also has made me realize just how crucial water is to life.

I am participating in "Paint With Me Thursday" hosted by Simply Feather. You can join in and find links to other artistic endeavors here. Next week's inspiration is Umbrellas.

K is for Korean

(This photo actually just shows a mix of friends :)
Korean Friends
Being in an international school, the boys have made friends from all over the world and especially enjoy their Korean classmates. (Koreans make up about 1/3 of their school population.) I wondered what drew my American boys particularly to the Koreans on campus, and decided that perhaps they were curious about the strong sense of cultural identity and community they saw. Then again, the Korean appeal could merely be that they're pretty nice kids and lots of fun to be around. (Or maybe it's the food the boys keep mooching.)

Anyway, because of this Korean influence in our world, our whole family loves Korean food.

Korean Food... Yum!
Our favorites are:
Bibimbap 비빔밥
or rice topped with mixed vegetables, possibly ground beef, and egg; served with a chili paste

Kimbap (Gimbap) 김밥
or Korean Sushi (rice & seaweed wrapped around vegetables and egg or cooked, processed meat of some kind - beef, hot dog, fish). I don't actually like the fishy, seaweed taste; but I'm the only one.

My boys love Kimchi (Kimchee, Gimchee) 김치 or spicy, pickled cabbage.

Korean BBQ...

tends to be a favorite with lots of people; especially when you get to grill the meat and vegetables yourself and then wrap them up in fresh green lettuce leaves. When we order, I also like to request a plate of Tteokbokki (Ddeokbokki, Topokki) 떡볶이 or sliced rice cake in a spicy sauce.

But my favorite Korean dish is possibly Curry Rice (Indo-Carae, Indian Curry Korean style) 카레라이스

The two images above both come from Migi's kitchen photo set by minwoo. You can find these recipes here.

Are you hungry yet? Because I'm kind of moving on to another interesting "K" word.

Kawaii (かわいい)* .... I learned a new "K" word while searching the web for Korean fashion images to use in this post. It means "loveable" or "adorable" and relates to things found particularly in, though not limited to, Asian pop culture (including entertainment, clothing, food, and toys). (Wikipedia)

I always thought the culture of cute spread to China from Korea, but I discovered that this phenomenon actually originated in Japan. The thing is that young Koreans (particularly girls) seem irrepressibly drawn to all things Kawaii; and then Chinese young people, strongly influenced by Korean pop culture (especially films and music), do the same. For a great article on Japan's cuteness culture check out Wikipedia here.

Another online source defines Kawaii as "cute" or "pretty," stating that it "generally relates to someone wearing clothing that appears to be made for young children or clothes that accentuate the cuteness of the individual. Ruffles and pastels or bright colors may be worn, and accessories often include oversize toys or bags featuring animated characters."

I've included some Kawaii fashion below as well as other cute things.

Kawaii Fashions for Spring

Kawaii Fashions for Fall

Japanese Kawaii by Yumi X Peach (And let me just say she is the king's wife of Kawaii swaps. You can check it our here.)

Kawaii erasers by rkeohane

I also consider ball-joint dolls to be a pretty fun example of Korean Kawaii; so I'll leave you with some cute bjd pics. You can find my Korean bjd, Uri, here along with a little more information.

These sweet photos were taken by Rainb0w-dolls.

As always thank you for stopping by! I love your visits.
Kamsahamnida 감사합니다!

I am participating in Alphabe-Thursday hosted by Jenny Matlock at on my tangent... You can join in and find other kool "k" posts here.

*귀여운 Kawaii (Korean) 可爱 Kawaii (Chinese Simp)

Jenny Matlock


Related Posts with Thumbnails