2009 :: year of the ox
[We're off to Tokyo! Will be back next week!]
The last two years I made New Year cards instead of Christmas cards. I've decided that I'm sticking with the New Year cards since it means less stress for me around the holidays. I was a little behind in sending out the cards this year since I didn't design them until after the holidays, but I decided to use the "I just moved to a foreign country and no one will mind if our New Year cards are late" excuse. [And it really is the thought that counts, right?] But I did convince myself that it was ok since I finished them in time for Lunar New Year.
I really love designing and making the cards by hand. Of course after card #25 I always think, "Next year I'm just going to order them." And after card #90 I'm really thinking, "Am I crazy for making all these cards?" [Answer = Yes.]
Maybe in 2010 I'll have to enlist some help from a cute little painter friend I know.
The other day I was reading Martha's journal and was so inspired by her entry on limits and constraints in art and design. I have no background in art or design, so I haven't the foggiest clue how to "teach" my child about art, but Martha's approach made complete sense to me. And since I've been wanting to let the boys create more "art" for our home [something they can hold on to when they grow up and move out the house...what, did I just say that? sniff sniff], I thought this would be the perfect project. So after a quick trip to Kyobo for some canvases and paint, we were ready to go.
I whipped out a nice clean canvas and Baby J was so excited to get started. I was scrounging our recycling bins to find appropriate containers for the paint, but Baby J was getting antsy so I gave him a light grey paint to use while I looked for more containers.
As he started brushing the paint on to the canvas he asked me, "What am I?" And then answered himself by saying, "Oh, I'm a painter." Too cute. And without any prompting he started telling me that he was painting the road from Oregon to Korea [and what road would that be?].
I found another container for the darker grey paint.
I loved how he naturally moved to different sides of the canvas to work on his painting.
I finally found the last container for the green paint. This is his favorite color. Or it was. Now it is red.
After many more layers of paint he declared, "I'm finished".
I just love the texture of the painting. This was such a fun project and I cannot wait to let Big J work on one this weekend. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with, I'm guessing a dinosaur or two will pop up. [Martha, bring on lesson #2!]
P.S. Thank you for all the Tokyo recommendations!! Wow.
In one week Appah and I will be boarding a plane for Tokyo. Yes, that's right, we are going on our first trip without the boys! I honestly can't think about it too much because the thought of leaving the boys for five days makes me really anxious. This will be my first time leaving Baby J and the first time I've been away from Big J for more than one night. And although I know they are going to be in good hands [my mother and great aunt will be taking care of them], I am going to miss them like crazy. [But maybe the delicious sushi and warm udon will help calm my nerves.]
Appah's co-worker gave us a few Tokyo city guides and I've been reading through them in the evenings. I've been jotting down stores, museums and neighborhoods that I would like to visit. I've always wanted to check out Muji and Uniqlo and after a bit of online research I found out they both have stores in Busan! Anyways, if you have any recommendations on "must see" places in Tokyo, please let me know! I'm going to make a concerted effort to take a lot of photographs, which should be do-able since my tote won't be full of notebooks + pens, books and the usually kid "junk".
P.S. Thank you for all the kind words about Handmade Hellos! You are all so sweet! Using the random integer generator the following numbers were selected: #107 [Ang] + #278 [Amy Williams] and #21 [Jessie]. Please email me your mailing addresses to info AT shimandsons DOT com and the kind folks at Chronicle Books will send you a copy of the book!
You know how everyone has a list of things they would like to accomplish in their lifetime? Well my list includes random things like "take a ceramics class" [which I'll finally be doing this year!], "go parasailing" and "learn to ride a motorcycle" [wait, that one is being scratched off the list!]. One goal that wasn't ever on my list was having one of my own projects published in a real book [let alone a book published by Chronicle Books...I love their books!], but maybe it should have been because it is pretty darn cool seeing your work in print.
I mentioned the book back in May and somehow in the midst of moving to Korea and getting settled over here, I forgot to mention that the book is out! You can find Handmade Hellos! at your local bookstore or online. I have a copy and I am happy to say it really is a fantastic book with projects from some of my favorite crafters [Amy Karol, Sarah Neuberger] and stationery designers [Egg Press + Binth].
Now on to the good news! If you leave your name in the comments below you'll be automatically entered to win your own copy of Handmade Hellos!. And since the kind folks at Chronicle Books offered to give out three copies, your chances of winning are pretty darn good! I'll plan to draw three names on Sunday, January 18th.
I also wanted to say "thank you" to everyone who stops by my online journal to say "hello. It was through this blog that Billie + Tootie of Reform School found my work and it was at their store in Silverlake that Eunice + Sabrina of Hello!Lucky [the editors of the book] noticed my fabric + cards. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the years of encouragement and support! xoxo.
When we were packing up the house last fall in anticipation for our move overseas it was a challenge deciding what to ship to Korea and what to keep in storage for 3+ years. Although we lived in our Oregon home for over 5 years I think it was only recently that I felt the house was starting to come together. I finally started hanging up artwork and photographs [I was always a bit commitment phobic in this area, so this was a big step for me] and investing in some quality furniture for my studio [which I should have done years ago, it is totally worth it!]. And then it seems like six months later we found out we would be needing to pack it all up and put it into storage.
One of my favorite rooms in the house was the playroom. This room was situated in the back corner of the house and had a lot of sunlight coming in during the day. I always wanted to repaint the walls a bright white [along with the rest of the house], but never got around to it [maybe when we move back in a few years]. This room was very budget friendly since almost all the furniture is from Ikea. The table was Appah's old desk from when we first got married, which I covered with some Ikea paper tablecloth [I love that gold + white print]. Their art + craft supplies were stored in white containers which hung on a rail [found in the kitchen section at Ikea]. The stools and easel are also from Ikea.
I put up several rows of floating shelves [Ikea] to display and store the boys' growing dinosaur collection [this is only a 1/4 of their collection] as well as their latest Lego creations. The map was put to good use since I was always able to point out the countries Appah was traveling to and from. I would have loved to buy a nice wool rug but realistically knew it wouldn't be a good idea so I settled with this rug from Ikea [which I admit I don't love, but was "good enough"]. The monkey chair was a gift from their aunt [from Babystyle].
The other corner of the room had a simple white Ikea bookshelf to house some of their books [the rest were upstairs]. Sitting on top of the bookshelf were two dinosaur terrariums, which we made for Big J's fourth birthday party.
And no room would be complete without a pin + board or two. I hung two linen covered pin + boards on one wall of the playroom which displayed their artwork and craft projects.
Above their work table I hung up three magnetic boards [from Ikea]. [These are my favorite magnets].
This room was definitely put to good use. And although the boys have a new playroom in our new home, I miss the "old" one. Oh, and if you're wondering where all the toys were, there were some stored in baskets under the playhouse table and the rest stored in a "toy closet" under our staircase.
P.S. I have about a dozen unfinished posts that I am determined to complete even if they make no sense now [e.g., the photographs of the playroom are from 9 months ago!] So bear with me if there are a bunch of random posts this month.
P.P.S. I have a long list of things I want to make for our new home. I'm just waiting for my new sewing machine to arrive next month [I managed to "break" my old machine after we moved here]. I haven't sewed in over 3.5 months and I'm starting to go nutty. I'm so inspired by Martha's son's new room [talk about A-M-A-Z-I-N-G]!! And Emma has a great review of some of her favorite children's rooms.
Our final destination was Khao Lak, Thailand, a small resort town north of Phuket. This was my first time in Thailand and I have to say I fell in love. The beach is beautiful, the people are so friendly and the food is amazing.
We stayed at the Le Meridien Khao Lak, thanks to all those hotel points Appah has accummulated. This was our first time staying in a resort and I have to give the whole experience two thumbs up. The property was gorgeous and the service was top notch.
It was really nice meeting up with our friends from Oregon and Shanghai. They all arrived a few days earlier so they were all tanned/sunburned by the time we arrived. The boys had their friend J to play with and there was the perfect balance of group vs. alone time achieved during the vacation.
We ate at the resort's breakfast buffet every morning and during lunch time the men would take the mopeds into town and bring back local Thai food. Nothing beats eating delicious Thai food on the beach. Every evening we would go into town and either grab food at the local market [freshly made pad thai, noodle soups, sticky rice with mango, fried chicken] or eat at our favorite Thai restaurant [laab chicken salad, green curry, tom yum soup]. My mouth still waters thinking about the food. The other two men in the group took some cooking classes at the resort. Appah was the photographer since he took cooking classes in Bangkok last year.
Big J was very excited to see so many seashells scattered all over the beach.
He is quite the explorer and is always finding some interesting insect to chase after.
And Baby J had fun playing in the sand, although he is still not convinced that he likes walking on the sand.
The boys also had fun playing at the resort's kids club for a few hours every day. The boys had their own teacher and they loved her. She took them to the beach to catch hermit crabs and seashells and painted their nails in a rainbow of colors.
It was interesting spending Christmas at the beach, but the boys didn't seem to mind since Santa managed to deliver their gifts to our hotel room. And they even had a visit from a jolly Thai Santa Claus on Christmas morning.
My early Christmas present was a banged up shoulder, a nice long gash on my elbow and several scabs on my leg. My first solo journey on the moped was not a success and I've officially given up my dream of owning a motorcycle. Appah seems to think I need to practice a bit more, but really, the pain of having my wounds cleaned out every day was enough to convince me that I will forever be a back-seat driver. I had to laugh when the Thai doctor looked at my wounds and pointed at them and said, "ok", "ok", "not good", "ok", "not good", "ok", all with a smile on his face.
So friends, I'm sporting a nice sling, some nasty scabs and making daily trips to my doctor here in Busan, but really it was a wonderful trip and we're definitely heading back to Thailand next year!
Our winter vacation is quickly coming to a close. Appah returned to work this morning after having two weeks off [oh, that was so nice!] and Big J will go back to school in a few days [he had three weeks off]. The first week of vacation I relaxed at home with the boys, met up with friends for playdates and prepared for our trip. The second week we took the train to Seoul and spent one night there.
Our boys love staying in hotels and one of their favorite things to do is stare out the windows. I suppose since they have grown up in the suburbs there always seems to be more interesting things to look at in the big city.
Day 2 we flew into Singapore, went immediately to sleep and spent the next day walking around the city. We went from wearing winter jackets + scarves in Seoul to shorts + sandals in Singapore. There are so many things to see + do in Singapore but I will say the humidity was a bit too high for my taste.
I think we were all relieved to hitch a ride in an air-conditioned taxi after our long walk.
And of course the highlight of our time in Singapore was our lunch--black pepper crab...
...and deep fried squid. Yum!
Although I know the boys loved the ice cream at the Raffles Hotel.
Winter vacation, part two coming up!
2008 was a wonderful year, but I'm looking forward to what 2009 has in store for the Shims. I'm hoping for some more...
...Rockband with the boys...
...walks in the woods...
...silly photo shoots...
...letting go of the little things in life...
...time with good friends...
...goofy brotherly moments...
Wishing you and yours a new year filled with peace + love + hope + joy!!!