Monday, November 30, 2009

Wedding Maedeup

This is one a wedding picture of my maedeup teacher, Su-Mi. She was married last April and they are expecting their first child next year.

She knows how to make her own cording for maedeup and uses this cording for special occasions like her wedding.

This is the maedeup she wore with her wedding hanbok.

She even made one for her mother-in-law's hanbok. The cording is just beautiful.

Thanksgiving didn't go as we planned. We were planning a road trip to visit all the relatives in Illinois but I came down with the flu on Tuesday. It has turned into a nasty cold so I've been taking it easy. I told Rocketman I wanted to go back to Korea. In the two years I lived there, I didn't catch a cold or the flu once. It's made me rethink our eating habits here in the States and I'm going to really cut back or out red meat. Beef was so expensive in Korea that we rarely had it. We ate mostly chicken and lots of vegetables especially when we ate out. We also ate a lot of fruit. I just finished reading a really good book on the subject, "The Blue Zones."

Friday, November 27, 2009

How I Design

I have two ways of designing. The first is having a journal where I sketch out my thoughts. This has worked well for polymer clay but I find that it doesn't work for me when I'm designing in maedeup. Often a maedeup design will start with a special pendant and then I pick a cording color to compliment the pendant. I will roughly sketch out the necklace or bracelet on an index card including the knots I will use. I then mentally calculate how much cording I need and error on the side of too much versus too little. When I'm finished I put everything into a snack size Ziplock bag. I have a basket full of little bags with projects I haven't gotten to yet. Sometimes my mind goes faster than my fingers can.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of my favorite street foods in South Korea. It was delicious and burned my mouth because I tried to eat one too soon. They are served piping hot.
This is our first Thanksgiving home in two years and we are looking forward to eating turkey and being with family (not necessarily in that order). It's the only time when I can say that a U.S. dinner includes sides rivalling a typical Korean meal. We always eat too much but somehow manage to fit a piece of Baker's Square pie into our bellies.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Self Taught?

Not me. I love to learn a new craft by taking classes or learning from someone else. When I was very little my mom taught me how to sew using her sewing machine. I learned how to make my own clothes when I took a sewing class in high school. My mom also taught me how to knit and would always cast on for me when I didn't want to learn it myself. I finally did learn when she wasn't always available immediately.

I owe my polymer clay career to the lady who made the elf in the photo above, Maureen Carlson. A neighbor invited all the neighbors over for a polymer clay party where Maureen came and taught us how to make millefiori candies. I loved it and my career started there in my neighbor's living room. Over the years I have continued to take classes which started out in her home and then moved to her Creative Arts Center. She is the most patient teacher I have ever encountered always meeting the individual needs of her students.

In addition to polymer clay, I have taken classes in: rosemaling, quilting (many), beading including stitches like the brick stitch, precious metal clay, cardmaking, wire working, glass beadmaking, maedeup (Korean knotting) and chilbo (Korean enamel). What I love about taking a class from an expert is that they are full of information and hints. You also have someone right there if you have a question or problem.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moving On

Our neighborhood in Korea changed dramatically the last few months we lived there. Our neighborhood comprised of row after row of tiny storefronts selling everything from clothing to ping pong tables. It seemed that every week a store closed like the one above. It just struck me funny that they filled the front window with naked mannequins. It was sad to see this happening.

Our favorite yang yung (sweet and spicy) chicken shop were forced to relocate and the entire block was demolished. Luckily, I had kept their phone number and when one of my girlfriends came to visit, she called them so I could order over the phone and have it delivered. We always ordered the same thing so I would call and say, "Hi, how are you?" She would respond in Korean and her hubby would deliver the chicken about 20 minutes later.

But I miss walking to their little shop and ordering in person. While I would wait, sometimes her husband would try to talk to me (in Korean) and their son would peek at me with his friend and then when I smiled at them they would run back upstairs to their living quarters. I also shocked customers when I entered. It wasn't every day you see a foreigner in your neighborhood especially that neighborhood.

She would always send me on my way with a free Pepsi (how did she know!) and a plastic bag of chopped up veggies which smelled horribly. Another thing I miss about Korea.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Story of Louie

We weren't looking for a cat when Louie entered our lives in March of 2005 and in fact, RocketMan was in China for work when Louie came to live with us. My son was dating a girl at the time whose parents fostered cats. He had been telling me for few weeks about this 9 month old kitty who was afraid of all the other kitties and had 3 1/2 legs.

In a moment of weakness, I told him to bring the kitty over for me to look at. Well, one look was all it took and with a $100.00 donation, he was ours. He didn't come out from under my son's bed for weeks after we got him. He would only come out when we were sleeping to eat and use the litter box.
RocketMan was not happy that I did this without discussing it with him which was wrong of me. But Louie has become a part of our family and we really missed him while we were in South Korea. Our son was still living at home at the time and took care of Louie while we were gone. I always said Louie was his cat which wasn't true.

Shortly after we adopted Louie, his 1/2 leg (stump) began to bleed all the time and leave blood stains all over the house. I took him to the vet and it was determined the only thing to do was to amputate the leg at the hip.
Don't look at the next picture if you are squeamish at all!

The surgery went really well and thankfully RocketMan decided to go with me to pick Louie up. It was a good thing because when they brought him out, I felt all the blood drain from my head and I almost passed out. The incision was huge!! He recovered very quickly and today the only time you notice his is missing a leg is when he walks slowly. He has a huge limp but when he runs you cannot tell.
My mom can't believe we paid so much for a rescue cat. The surgery was about $500.00 so Louie costs us about $600.00. Money well spent for the joy he brings us.

He also is a misfit because he has mitten paws on all his limbs. It is really unusual and makes him all the more loveable.
Louie is still terrified of visitors and will hide under the bed until they leave. It's interesting when my folks visit because he will stay hidden the entire time they are here. I thought he might outgrow this fear but it seems unlikely at this point.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Box of Memories

I haven't had our Christmas tree up for over three years and I was really anxious to see all of my old Christmas decorations. Noah was coming over for the evening which was a perfect excuse to put up the tree and decorate.

I spent the morning in the crawl space dragging out Christmas boxes. I didn't remember having so much stuff. RocketMan helped and also let me know that we had too much stuff. He set all the boxes in the living room while I started to put the Christmas tree together. It's artificial and I couldn't believe how long it took to set it up and spread out all the branches. I added the lights next and then waited for Noah to help with decorating. I was exhausted by this time.

I had accidentally brought up an unmarked box which contained ornaments that I had made and put away for my kids. These were made years ago when I was doing a lot of craft shows and magazine projects. Near the end of that era, I decided to put away some of my designs for each of my kids. I wish I would have thought to do it earlier.

The photo above is a snowflake face that I made one year for craft shows. I always had repeat buyers so every year I had all new polymer clay designs. I had customers that bought for their grandkids, teachers and themselves. I got to know quite a few of them from seeing them year after year.

My favorite magazine was Crafts. I still miss it. This Santa project was in a special issue called "Santa and Friends."

This is Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

This is a simple Christmas train set I did for a magazine.

This was one of Carol's (Duvall of HGTV The Carol Duvall Show) all time favorite
designs of mine. I got so much email about it and it was a project that came to me in the middle of the night like a dream. It is one of my favorite too.

I loved to buy existing ornaments and adding polymer clay to them. This was a drum ornament and I added the drummer to the top of it.

Both of my kids played for White Bear teams and the team colors are orange and black.
I wish I had taken pictures to remember all the different designs I had created during my craft show days but that was in the day before digital cameras and I didn't take the time. I had forgotten so much of what I had done during those hectic craft show days. I only did Fall shows but I was busy most of the year preparing for them.
Tomorrow Rocketman has his cataract surgery. He's really looking forward to it since he's been unable to see out of that eye since the retina detachment. I hope this is the last of the excitement for a while. We both could use a break.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Birds Do It!

They repurpose too, in this case, plastic. I found this nest in a bush while on my daily walk today. It made me think of recycling back in South Korea. They take it very seriously! We had to separate our garbage by the following: paper, plastic bags, metal, glass and wet garbage. We had a separate bag for each and this was in addition to our regular garbage or, should I say, whatever didn't fit in the above categories.
I can say now that I never did separate our wet garbage. It just was too disgusting for me. My Korean girlfriends would be all over me about this and not too happy with me but it was one thing I refused to do. We could take out the regular garbage any day because you had to buy special bags, so you had paid for whatever fit into that bag. But Sunday and Wednesday were recycling days. I would bring my bags down and dump them into the appropriate bin, which was labeled (in Korean). I would really be thrown off when they would switch up the bins so I had to peer in before I empty my bags. Many times there would be an ajosshi (older Korean man) watching everything that you did. They would scare me because I've heard that they will yell at you if you do it wrong. I never got yelled at but occasionally the ajosshi would just take my bags from me and do it for me. That way they knew it was getting done right.
I was ALWAYS scared to take out the regular garbage. The bags were thin and you could kinda see what was in them. Remember, I had wet garbage in with my regular garbage. I never got caught but it was always a long ride down the elevator from the 10th floor to the ground floor with a camera watching me the whole time. Ahhh, confession is good for the soul!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

34 Years Ago Today - Edmund Fitzgerald

Leaves and Lines

While out on one of my daily walks, I found that the township had painted new pavement markings. Every time I walked on this newly marked street I would have a different emotion: anger and disappointment just to name the prominent ones. How difficult can it be to brush a few leaves out of the way of the spray painting? Did anyone care? How could anyone intentionally do this poor of a job.

But Rocketman told me, "Becky, it is a truck that sprays the lines. They probably didn't even notice there were leaves in the way." But then I say, "Who was running the truck?" It is my feelings that whoever did this didn't care about the job they were doing.

A few years ago I probably wouldn't have even noticed this but I've changed a lot from living in South Korea. The Koreans I met, whether it was my girlfriends or the ajumas (older Korean women) waiting on us at a local restaurant, everyone tried their best. Everyone wanted to please us so we would have a good impression of Korea and that was important to them.

I used to get a little irritated at how nationalistic the Koreans are: Samsung everywhere (anyone heard of Panasonic or Sony?), Hangul is the best alphabet in the world, Korean food is the best (I agree with that) and so on. We live in an incredible country with equally incredible people.

And sometimes I just need a little Grass Roots!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Budae Jjigae!

Today was the day I first attempted my beloved Korean budae jjigae since our return from Korea. I miss our favorite restaurant in Suwon, Nolbol, that has the best budae jjigae. I was able to get all of the ingredients for it except hot pepper paste called sunchang gochijang and kimchi. A recent trip to a Korean market solved that problem. The picture above is all the ingredients I used except I forgot to include a small potato, one clove of garlic minced and some green onions in the photo.

It was only two of us for lunch, myself and Rocketman. I used a wok to cook it in. As required in Korean cooking, I had a lot of stuff to cut up: garlic (minced), green onion, hot dogs, balogney, potato and about 1/3 of a can of SPAM.

I have an electric stove and cranked it to high (the only way Koreans cook) and added chicken stock. I brought it to a boil and added the ramyeon noodles. I cooked it a few minutes later and it was ready. It really would cook better on a tabletop gas stove like they use in Korea. I wonder if I can get one here.

I also made rice and not Minute Rice (which is the only thing I used until living in Korea) but it turned out mushy. It was always perfect in my Korean rice cooker but I left that in Korea. It was delicious. Cooking is tough for me but when I see Rocketman's face light up it is all worth it. He even does the dishes!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cardmaking Class

This week I took a Holiday cardmaking class at a local rubberstamp stored called Stamp Garden. The class was 1 1/2 hours long and we made two cards. The cards had quite a few steps but everything was ready for us and all had to do was glue and color. This is the first card we made.

It opens to this.

And this is the inside of the card.

The second card.

Opening to this.
I arrived five minutes early to find that I was the last to arrive. That is the first time that has ever happened to me. I was also surprised to see how many people were there. It was about 15. As we began to make the cards, a gal a few down from me told her friend she wasn't feeling well and excused herself to use the bathroom.
I felt so bad for her, you could clearly hear her retching in the thin walled bathroom in the store. She would come back for a few minutes only to have to excuse herself again. This went on for the entire class. I started to worry that whatever she had, I would catch and I didn't want it. I really thought that at some point she would leave but she stuck it out.
I finished promptly 1 1/2 hours later and had a great time. It's peaked my interested in making cards again. I going into my craft room to dust off those rubber stamps that have been sitting for years.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quick Photo Albums

This was my first time using the Bind It All and it was incredibly easy to make these mini photo albums. I bought some 4 x 6 cardboard pieces on EBay to use as the cover for the albums. I used scrapbooking paper and cut two pieces 5 x 7 inches. I also cut a piece for the inside cover. It took one 12" x 12" sheet of scrapbook paper for each album.
I used a glue stick to glue the paper to each cardboard piece. Then I pressed the edges to the other side of the cardboard and used the glue stick to adhere. Then I glued the inside piece of paper to cover up the edges.
Next I took my 4 x 6 photos and put them into the Bind It All to make the holes. Then I added the coiling and used the Bind It All to make the album. It was so easy. I did watch the video that came with the Bind It All before I started.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

It was so fun to be able to spend Halloween with our grandson, Noah. They came over for dinner and then we went out trick or treating in our neighborhood. It was a little chilly but at least it wasn't snowing.

Noah was so excited and it was great to see our neighbors.

He went home with a lot of candy. We had only two doorbells worth of trick or treaters. We were in Korea for the past two Halloweens so I don't know how those years were but we always went through at least a couple bags of candy.
I got smart this year and bought candy the day before Halloween and also bought candy that we did not like. I remember years past of empty Snicker bags weeks before Halloween. We sent the extra candy home with Noah.
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