Friday, December 30, 2011

Welding

I.S. has been looking for things we "need" around the house that he can weld a solution for as practice so I tasked him with creating a paper towel holder.

Once painted, it will be mounted on the bottom edge of our cabinets at the back, which is hidden from view. One end of the rod is slightly curved to keep from going right through the rack and the other end of the rod I.S. drilled a hole and created a pin to go through it to keep everything in place. I'm really starting to like this new welding obsession he has =D

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Honey lavender

This holiday we decided to have a quiet Christmas at home and after a long tedious day of shopping for drywall tools (I'll get to that later) we decided to tackle this little recipe I've been waiting to try out. I've been obsessed with the honey-lavender flavor combination since we had the honey lavender gelato in Mountain View and then the idea of making my own caramels got in my head. Ultimately, it was only inevitable that I find a way to combine all that =)

Aren't they pretty?? They are really delicious, but really rich so I have to limit myself, especially now that I know how much sugar & cream goes into caramels!

On another note, here's a shot of the little corner of our house that got remotely festive for the holidays (sorry for the crappy photo):
And yes, that is lego filling in for the home decor that we do not yet own. Oh, and there is the little bicycle that I.S. welded on the top left of the mantel =) Our cabinets have outlets inside so they were perfect for plugging in our little strand of lights too. We bought a Christmas tree the day after Christmas when they were 50% off at Lowes. yay =) Now I'm looking forward to next Christmas so we can put it up. It definitely feels weird on a certain level to be hoarding Christmas stuff after the holiday has passed.

Anyhow, go check out our latest home-reno project(s)! Today was a very productive day. Drywall is done, just need to sand.


And we also (finally) brought our 20+ bags of yard waste to the compost center.

There's I.S. tarping everything down so that we don't have leaves flying out all over town. Everything in that truck bed was sitting on our back porch for the last month & a half. Sad, I know. But today turned out to be a great day to go! The weather was beautiful. This post is a bit far off from honey & lavender, so this is probably a good place to stop. Wishing everyone a very happy new year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

San Diego + Dumplings

I just got back from San Diego. We didn't get to eat at Cafe 21 more than once, which was sad, but that just means we've already got one thing for our to-do list next time I visit! 

Before I left for San Diego, I made a batch of dumplings and mannnn, are freshly-wrapped dumplings ever delicious. I could eat them all day long without any sauce. That is how good they are.

I made about 100. Some day I will get a big food-processor and be able to whip up fresh dumplings in a snap! You can find my dumpling recipe here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Snow

I have mixed feelings right now: on one hand I LOVE hanging out with H.; on the other, I would LOVE to be on my board! If only I could be in two places at once! This is a photo I just got from R., who is at Keystone with I.S. today.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Shopping

Today I went to the antique shops south of town with some friends & wasn't really sure what I wanted to find or what I'd even encounter in these shops as it was my first time antique-ing. But in the end, I found a 1950's Emerson Electric fan with 3 settings that works, but needs to be cleaned up.
Won't that look so pretty when it's all shiny again? There's a 2" wide dent in the back, which should be easy to knock out, but otherwise just needs to be sandblasted and powder-coated. Er, I guess the wiring should be redone as well since the power cord has a big section wrapped in electrical tape, so that's no bueno for the long-run. What concerns me a bit though is that the OFF, 1, 2, 3 settings are not there like I see in photos of other ones online so I'm not sure what I will do to fill in those spaces.  Either way, I paid $50 for it and I think I did OK. I looked it up on ebay and they seem like they could go for more (though those are in better condition) but I certainly didn't get gauged so I'm happy with my first vintage find =) 


I also found this little bell in the shape of an apple that I thought was really cute so I picked that up for $3. I figured it'd look good on the office desk after I give it a sanding (it's scuffed up a bit) & spray it gold again. Or maybe I should make it a more unusual color? Given that I've now added 2 more things to the long to-do list, I suppose I needn't worry too much about picking a color just yet. I should probably focus on getting our bedroom painting finished first! (We're down to one final coat on the face of the window+door+baseboard trim. Yay!)

All in all, a fun day at the antique shops =)




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paint

I.S. & I have many dreams for our home. Renovation dreams, that is. But before we tear down any walls & break things, we figured we'd paint our master bedroom because painting is a simple & harmless thing, right? WRONG. What a learning curve! And so many trips to Home Depot. When you have as much wood trim as we do in one room, you'll quickly learn why they say that prep work is 90% of a good paint job. Anyway, here's a quick before & in-progress shots. Probably no after shots until the doors are painted, which seems like a whole other weekend job in itself (though I.S. assures me it'll be straightforward, just like sanding, priming, caulking, painting, sanding, and painting all the window trim was). With snowboard season upon us & our passes purchased, I foresee many of these "little" house projects being neglected. You can probably guess where our priorities lay ;)
(before) 

(after)
It's a pretty dramatic difference with the white trim, eh? I love it. Dark wood trim needs to go away. It is everywhere in our house. ahhhhhh. It is pretty in its own right, but not for us thanks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Welding!

Remember when I said I.S. & I were taking up a welding class this weekend? And that my hope was to one day weld a coffee table or something? Well BAM! This happened:
then this:
and then THIS!
Yup. I did it. I made a table. I really didn't think I'd weld a table on my first day of welding, but you know. This coffee/side table got in my head and they let us use whatever materials they had (which was a lot) and I had 4 hours to kill (it took me about 2 to make) so yeah... I made a table =) With MIG welding (in case you're curious). I feel particularly good about the table as I was one of two people in the class who made something big & functional. One couple bailed early after welding random scraps together, the other guys tried out the other forms of welding & made some smaller things.

The plan now is to cut the legs down more as I didn't have any idea of what table height I wanted until I brought it home, then grind it down/polish it to make it shiny & then lacquer it to maintain the shine & then get a piece of glass cut to top it off. As basic as it looks, it was not easy so I can now totally appreciate why these things cost so much money (sometimes).

And here's a money-shot of I.S. welding a little decorative bicycle:
er, well, technically he's just lighting up his oxy-acetylene torch but you can see the bicycle in progress.

Conclusion: welding = awesome; my welding technique = not-very-awesome-but-only-will-get-better-with-more-welding.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Welding

I.S. has always wanted to learn how to weld and with his truck's exhaust pipe being temporarily held up with a pipe clamp, it's even more motivation to learn how to weld so he can fix it permanently. He found a class at the local community college and I decided to join him because ever since I saw this, I've daydreamed of all the things I could make if I knew how to weld.

I wonder if I'll be a natural at it or if I will learn that welding is not for me. It's a day-long class so let's hope that I'll be a natural at it and make something awesome, like this:
or this:

Something like the second table would be perfect for our living room right now. With that ottoman we got, it takes up too much room to allow for a good-looking coffee table but isn't quite big enough to fill the space and act as a coffee table (with a tray). Returning the ottoman is not an option because we love it too much, in case you were wondering. But after signing up for the class, I.S. and I have been talking about making a table to accommodate our awkward space layout issue. We figured that with the feet taken off the ottoman (the feet add about 2" to the height) and the magic slider/mover things we got at harbor freight (amazing store with so much good, cheap stuff, by the way) in place of the feet, we could have a coffee table at a normal height with the ottoman underneath. My idea is to weld a basic 4-legged frame and then cast a concrete slab to go on top that is about as thin, if not thinner, than the slab of marble in the photo above. Seems simple enough, right? Super. Our class is next weekend so I'll let you know how it goes. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tape!

When I was visiting Taipei, my cousin was supposed to take me to a stationery shop near her place that carried inexpensive patterned masking tape (compared to the MT brand of washi tape), but she got stuck traveling for work so that never happened. Except, yesterday I got a package from my cousin who figured if she couldn't bring me to the tape, then she would bring the tape to me! Best cousin ever.
My favorite is probably the one with stars that says "happy birthday." I picked up a few of my own from where ever I found the tape in Taipei and I'm just dying to start wrapping presents so that I can use them!
My favorite is probably the dark blue one on the bottom that has yellow speckles (though the yellow speckles don't show very well in this photo; it still has the wrapping on it).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

IKEA

Last weekend I.S. & I made a trip down to the Ikea south of Denver, which just opened up this past summer. We laughably went down there thinking we'd just do an initial survey of the stuff to see what we want to U-haul back the next time. Instead, we drove away with I.S.'s new/old truck filled to the brim with boxes and boxes of pieces of a Kivik sofa set (the exact pieces are shown below)

We've only got the bare essentials right now so no photos of the actual set up for you yet; that'll have to wait until we get drapes & area rugs & all that jazz. So to get all of the above (plus a long tv bench) home, I.S. worked a lot of tetris-inspired magic to fit it all into the back of his new/old truck, which was pretty impressive. Such a handy little truck. And husband, I guess, too ;)
And there's a peak of our garage! Partially filled with Ikea boxes. It turns out to be a bit of a challenge pushing 3 carts with only two people from the self-serve area to the cash register. Someone saw our struggle and helped push one of the carts out to the elevator for us. Then another woman helped hold the elevator open for us. Then an Ikea staffer helped I.S. load the truck. After a very long day, it was pretty exciting to finally have couches to sit on! OH, I should also mention that Ikea has a promotion right now where if you buy a sofa, they'll give you 15% of your sofa purchase back in an Ikea gift card, which was a pretty sweet deal to stumble upon. 

Prior to our Ikea trip, our tv-watching room looked like this (less squiggly though... and maybe not so black&white)
I.S. had initially picked up a few butterfly lounge chairs that were on a ridiculous discount at Kohl's (they were about $2 each; I told you it was ridiculous!) as something to temporarily sit on since we didn't know how long it'd take us to find a couch we liked, which is what those purple blobs are supposed to be. Across from the chairs is our new 55" tv, which I always thought was really big, but then you put one in this space and it makes it (almost) feel small! Crazy, I know. On the far wall with all the lines is supposed to be a fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases with glass doors.

Next step: infusing our now super-beige room with some color! 

Speaking of color... did you know that there is a company out there that makes custom slipcovers for Ikea furniture? So instead of getting one of the colors that everyone else has, you could get one in the fabric of your choice. Kind of a brilliant business idea. The company is called Bemz & if the covers didn't cost nearly as much as the couch itself, I might consider swapping the ones we have out. Maybe down the road when our covers are beyond saving. Anyway... I need to get back to figuring out which storage containers I want after I picking up the Lock & Lock deal from Plum District!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jet Planes

Leaving Taiwan is never easy. So much family here. And of course: the food! Before I fly back to a place with no bubble tea, I picked up a cup on my way home today for one last time.
Despite all that, I am still very much looking forward to being home (in our new home!) and getting settled for real this time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Taipei World Design Expo

Today I dropped by the Design Expo that is going on in town. It is a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I definitely should've stopped by when I first arrived as there is so much to see! And there were a lot of crowds too.

They had all sorts of things on display and/or for sale, ranging from industrial to interior to product packaging design. My favorite product there that was for sale was this key chain/key holder set:
How brilliant & cute is that? I plan on going back and getting the brown house/white keychain tomorrow. They also have one that houses two sets of keys/birds, but I think I prefer the single one. What do you think?
I'm not sure if they even have the double-set in the brown house. You can get the single one online. According to the product page, the bird keychain is also a whistle! The genius in this design is endless. I wish the house was made of wood, though.

I also saw this product (I think in the same booth), but wasn't able to get near it to take a photo.
Seriously smart & cute. You can buy it here.

Tired

I don't think I've ever traveled so much in one vacation before. I returned to Taipei yesterday after some time in Xiamen where I ate & ate, then spent a few days in HangZhou where I learned about my family history on my dad's side. Apparently my great grandfather sold rice in his village near the Thousand Islands Lake just outside of the city. This is what his store looks like now:
Just a foundation.

And I saw West Lake/Xihu (HangZhou's main attraction), next to which my grandma lived before fleeing to Taiwan from the Communists. Below is my dad standing on a giant map that's been paved into the ground and pointing at the place where his mom lived.

This has certainly been a very tiring vacation, but very eventful & educational. Click here for more photos.

Sidenote: I never thought I'd want to publish posts via email, but when I found myself wanting to share thoughts while in China, that was the only way I could've posted. But I never activated that feature, hence the radio silence for the last week.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Finished.

I meant to post this before I flew out, but you know how life gets when you have places to be!

So here they are! The wedding invitation suite for D & J (sans wedding invite & rsvp though since they were completed much earlier & I'm not sure if I had the sense to take a photo of those before I sent them off. I forget).

Anyhow. That stack of orange cards you see is the mosaic/puzzle guest book poster I put together. 120 pieces, 30" x 36",  each piece is 3"x 3".

My biggest design project to date =) I'm pretty proud of the end result. Now I'm looking forward to seeing photos from D & J's wedding so I can see what all this looks like!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Working vacation

They are not a good idea. Especially when you have a short turn-around! I've got 2 weeks left in Taiwan, with one of those weeks travelling in China; and then on top of that I want to get 3 of my wedding invite ideas in for Minted's latest challenge, which ends in 2 weeks; and then I need to go shopping here in Taipei before I leave. Needless to say, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Oh, I forgot about voting for the last Minted challenge too. Speaking of which, I encourage anyone reading this to go vote!! There are so many good designs (though I've just been made aware that a designer's eye is very different from a customer's eye and that some of the ones I love may be considered boring to the average customer).

If you click on the images of my designs below, you can get to the voting page, but to see and vote for other designs, go here!
I highly recommend you vote for at least 300 if you can't vote for all of them because there are so many great designs that deserve to be seen. Some of my favorites can be found here, herehere, here, here, here, and here

I wish I knew what the new wedding challenge was all about (multi-cultural invites) 'cause then I would've just saved my three English/Chinese designs for that challenge! But it's OK: I've got a few new ideas in my head that I'm excited to try out =) Let's just hope I have the time to work on it!

Happy voting everyone!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Taiwan - Last days

At least for I.S. He flew back today. Sigh. I misplaced my SD card reader so I couldn't upload any photos the last few days, but I found it today and so if you check out my picasa, you will see a few new albums =) I think my captions to the photos do a good job of re-capping our adventures so go check out the new albums for a real update!

In other news, I think we got a lot of use out of my little guide book, wouldn't you agree? I don't have a before-photo, but I can assure you it did not start out this tattered.

I think the most useful thing was having the MRT map in the back and a list of the open hours for the various touristy things we wanted to do: the latter piece of information made planning our days easier since we knew right away if we could fit in certain things or not. It was also nice to have the entrance fees listed for the touristy things too, just so we could be certain if we had enough money for the day, though it was never essential to know in advance since we always carried more cash than we needed.

I am starting to make a list of things that I want to change/add/take out of the guide book, so maybe when I have the time I will update it and re-print (but more nicely and less hacky). One major change will be the size: it would've been nice if it were half the size that it is, which is currently 5" x 7", to be able to slip into a pocket without having to fold it up. I think all vacations should be planned this way. And a more waterproof material for the paper too since you never know what kind of weather you will encounter on your trip! If only I could've fit a rain poncho into this book. Did I mention how much fun I had with this little project? =)


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Scooter

We rented a scooter! Just for 24hrs in Hualien. We highly recommend renting a scooter if you're planning on going up to Taroko National Park. $500NT for 24 hrs from Pony car/scooter rental (they seem to be the go-to place for foreigners without a local license). It was the easiest process ever. I.S. gave him his name, phone number, an ID for them to hold (he gave his expired student ID) and then off we were! It probably would've been a good idea to get I.S. an international license to be legit, but we would've needed to get that done before we left for Taiwan. So for anyone who may potentially want to rent a car or scooter when in another country: get an international license for more assurance that locals will rent to foreigners. Apparently going through AAA is the way to go. Google it.
And yes, my helmet is crooked.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Rain or Shine

We are about a week into our trip here and it has been surprisingly nice. Surprising because of this from last week. It has been a tiring day of hiking in street shoes so I will just leave you with a few snapshots of what we've been up to so far for now.
The National Palace Museum in Taipei. Saw some cool stuff, but also saw a bunch of super annoyingly loud tourists. Our favorite thing was probably the olive pit carved into a fishing boat with people on board and operational windows. Imagine the size of an average olive pit. It's TINY! No cameras were allowed so go click on the link and be amazed.
 At the Shilin Night Market. We were a little early, so we found a shaved ice place to sit and get our dinner appetites going with some red bean on milky shaved ice.


 We managed to run into the rehearsal for the October 10th celebration performance put on by the Taiwan military at the CKS Memorial Hall by pure chance. This is us at the memorial building after the rehearsal ended.
 Having a Hualien-specialty: brick toast stuff with whatever-deliciousness-you-can-think-of. If I had a food truck, I'd totally steal this idea. We got pineapple shrimp in ours. Other choices included peppered beef, satay beef, kung pao chicken, and dessert options such as chocolate, strawberry, etc. They had an impressive selection, but luckily we ran into the girl running the front desk at our B&B, who narrowed down the options for us & recommended her favorites.
The morning of the day we decided to explore Taroko National Park: it was rainy and overcast and not looking to be a good day but then we saw this on our bus ride to the park: a sliver of sun peeking through! By the time we got to our destination in the park, the sky was blue and the puffy white clouds had parted.

I.S. & me somewhere in the park near the beginning of our day.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Arrived

We made it as scheduled last night, despite having over-slept and missing our first flight by 3 minutes because the airplane decided to take off early.
One of my favorite parts of the trip: seeing a guy who missed the same flight as us, reunited with his wife & baby girl (though I'm still not sure how they got separated in the first place...).

Another favorite part of the trip: the free alcohol! Yay for international flights.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Preview

I'm hoping to get this printed later today (not on anything fancy... I'm too pressed for time!), but here's a little preview in case I don't have time to update after its printed!

Here's the cover & back (very unexciting back, but I can't be bothered to do anything about it!)
I made little calendar icons for each activity (though I just noticed I'm missing one for Yangmingshan) for us to write in when we plan to do that thing or to record when we did that thing. I tried to be as detailed as possible with the maps & directions because I'm incredibly directionally challenged.
The map below is what started this whole last-minute mini-project. I was checking out Neil Wade's Taiwan Photography Blog for ideas of things to do in Taiwan (where my search originally began at Stuart Dawson's Hiking Taiwan blog) and found this amazing tagged map he shared on google maps for the Four Beasts Mountain hikes that are close to town. While this map is great, it was too detailed/cluttered for my needs so I set out to simplify it and highlight the key streets and buildings that I usually look for when I'm finding my way around and this is the end result. 
There are 3 other pages (6 once folded in the book) but they're not quite finished and pretty much the same look as the above few pages so I'm not going to bother showing them. Plus two of the pages are just the subway way for quick reference. I wish I got the idea to do this earlier, but oh well. It'll be useful nonetheless! Perhaps after our trip I'll have more things to add to the book and I can make it bigger and incorporate photos from our trip and turn it into a travel diary =) It will be 5"x7" once folded & bound, with a total of 10 pages of content.

Uhmm...

What.the.heck. Besides typhoons that come around suddenly in the summers, I've NEVER encountered that much rain in one week in Taipei. Of course this happens when I bring I.S. back with me and have all these outdoor activities planned. Please, oh please let the weather forecast be wrong as it usually is!