Archive for the ‘Crafting Life’ Category

… and one dumpster-diving afternoon (along with a few Asahi beers, countless bowls of popcorn, and one set of plans downloaded from this mama’s etsy shop.)

Finn’s gift this year was a kitchen. A cardboard kitchen.

I’ve been planning to make this since before he was born, so smitten am I with the idea. A genius mother in Philadelphia, also living in a small apartment and on a limited budget, wanted to build her daughter a kitchen using recycled materials, but without tools or a workshop. Enter corrugated cardboard–incredibly strong and incredibly available. Her design uses no glue, but instead some clever little joins that slide together.

Matt was more than skeptical the whole way through. From exploring the back stairs of area shopping centers to cutting and measuring without a proper straight edge, he thought this thing would fall over the first time Finn used it (and was both graciously and happily proved wrong … so far, anyway.) It took a bit longer than we expected, but I, at least, gladly joined the ranks of parents who spend Christmas Eve putting together their childrens’ presents.

We had some hearty laughs along the way over the thought of our Hong Kong friends who would never in a million years make their children cardboard kitchens, much less the cute crafts I recently saw made out of toilet paper tubes. (!) We even considered putting a Miele label on the oven, just to make it fit in to brand-conscious Hong Kong.

The kitchen is far sturdier than we expected, and Finn, I am happy to report, has been busy cooking ever since. He first offered me some make-believe pancakes about two weeks before Christmas, and I knew the time was ripe for this little kitchen to enter his life. With wooden eggs, yogurt cups, anchovy tins, and a blossoming imagination at his disposal, you just never know what he might serve up.


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Done! Of course the plan was to finish it before Advent started, but as it turns out, the process of making was a good one, and I’m glad I let it take its time. The tree took considerable time to cut out, and while I cut the dark felt–the negative space–my mind wandered. I thought about cross-country skiing by moonlight in Maine, and warm blueberry muffins baked by a woman who has since died of brain cancer. I thought of a man, her husband, who taught us to “live without fear and love without reserve” even while watching his wife die.

I thought about a child learning to share and parents learning their child has cerebral palsy. I thought about families and weddings and blizzards and cozy warmth, and I thought about the God who is making the heavens and the earth and who knits all things together for good. And I thought about the Leonard Cohen lyrics:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

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Just wanted to pop in quickly and let you know what we’ve been up to the last few weeks. After a great visit with Nana D (Matt’s mom) we’ve spent the last week preparing for that time-honored ritual among overseas expats … the long summer holiday at home.  We’re heading back to the States today (leaving HK at 4 in the afternoon and arriving at LAX two hours earlier). This is how we’ve been getting ready: 

1. Swimming. Mainly at our pool, but going to the beach too.  The water is really the only place to be once the thermometer hits 30, after all.  Plus, the pool is the only place where Finn is at a disadvantage by crawling, so he’s actually been walking! (Not on land yet, though.)swimming  The biggest advantage of swimming, however, is that it tires him out like nobody’s business, which = long naps and long nights.  Both of which allow us to do….

2. Laundry. loads and loads.  Seriously mad amounts of laundry. Last night we kept setting the alarm clock so we could get up and switch the machine from wash to dry, or throw in another load. I have this crazy goal of having everything we take with us be clean, and everything we leave here (including bath towels and bed linens) be clean. Five weeks in a hot, closed-up apartment is just too long to leave dirty stuff to smolder, but this is one logistical feat that makes me understand why people hire full-time helpers.     

3. Scheming. Planning. Making lists. Packing. Weighing. Repacking. 

4. Crafting. I’m putting together a grab bag of toys (ie, post-it notes and stickers) to keep Finn busy on the plane, and wrapping each one to prolong the excitement. I couldn’t find any puppets I loved (or were worth the cost!) so I made these out of an old pair of socks: puppets

And this–Finn’s farm mat.  I took some of his favorite animal photos, laminated them and put velcro on the back. Then made this felt horizon to play with them on. farm mat For a boy who loves his velcro and loves his animals, we’re hoping this buys at least, oh, 15 minutes.  Our seatmates hope so too.  

See you on the other side of the Pacific!  If you’re the praying sort, we could use a few today. walking with papa

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I’ve been up to all sorts of craftiness lately, inspired mainly by SouleMama, who is always quick to go to the “making” solution before the “buying” solution. This is an attitude I’ve held in varying degrees over the years, and it’s almost reflex for me when it comes to food. But for other things, I just so often feel like I don’t have the materials or the equipment, and when you add in the time it will take to assemble what I need and then do it, it’s just easier to buy. I’m trying, though, to cultivate the resourcefulness and creativity to just make do, improvise and use what I have. And I’m finding that, like anything, it gets easier with practice.

It also gets easier with inspiration. And I’ve recently discovered a “crafts district” here in Hong Kong. Tons of beading, button and ribbon shops. More ribon than I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m hoping to find similar fabric shops … but for now, the ribbon is more than enough.

ribbon 1

ribbon 2

So here’s what I’m working on right now:

  • a scarf, made from a half-finished hat I’ve been carrying around since, oh, our boatshop days in Maine 6 years ago! Finally decided that even if I finished the hat I would never wear it due to mistakes early in the knitting, and so that yarn is finding a happier home, in a striped scarf for me! I’ve been collecting yarn for years, only occasionally knitting something, looking and planning and dreaming mostly. And feeling. Did I say feeling? I love to feel yarn. I brought all those skeins to HK and promised myself that the only way they were coming home with me was in finished form. No knit, no purl, no shipping. 
  • a knitting bag, to carry around said yarn. Made from the ubiquitous Watson’s Wine bags they give everytime you buy a bottle. I just cut off the Watson’s label, “cuted” it up a bit, and changed the straps. Voila! 

scarf bag

Crafting in my future:

  • just ordered a pattern from oliver + s — can’t wait to make this little sailor outfit for a certain little boy. 
  • need to make said boy a sleep sack out of lightweight fabric for summer … maybe use up some of the thin “flannelette” baby blankets we have in abundance, in the spirit of reuse rather than “buy more.”

Anybody out there working on fun stuff?

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