HK Alphabet :: O

O :: Oranges

You may see them tucked into a corner on the ferry pier or hidden in the shadows of an alley. Sometimes they sit prominently outside the door to even the most modern, Western shop. But I suspect I miss most of them, on their red plates, in front of urns overflowing with ashes, quietly offered to the ancestors in hope of blessing.

I read once that Hong Kong has the highest per capita consumption of oranges in the world, but I don't know if that's true. If it is, it's certainly due to all the offered oranges. (I do wonder, though, if the oranges have to be eaten in order to count in this statistic. And did they figure in the ancestors too?) (Our neighbor's ancestors seem to be more fond of saltines and cigarettes than oranges. Try explaining to your toddler why there is a pack of crackers on the little altar next door.)

What is true is that I can't imagine a Hong Kong winter without a particular kind of little orange, sold with the leaves attached. I don't know what they officially are called—tangerines? Mandarin oranges? We call them the perfect toddler food—easy to peel, easy to eat, self-separating into little bites. Little jewels of sunshine, every one a gift on those dreary days from December to February.

O :: Octopus

The Octopus is an aptly-named card that allows you to go to work, buy lunch, buy afternoon coffee, get groceries on the way home and not carry a bit of cash, nor worry about losing a credit card. It's an indispensible cash card accepted most eveywhere. As a three-year-old, Finn has proudly joined the ranks of kids wearing their cards around their necks, ready to swipe whenever they get the chance. Our friends discovered the hard way that vending machines accept Octopus, after their son gleefully got Coke after Coke, thrilled with his newfound power. We're trying to keep Finn away from this particular joy ...


In which she sews ...

I have been the very lucky caretaker of a sewing machine the past few months, and I've made good use of it--perhaps to the detriment of writing, reading, knitting, keeping flickr current or just spending time with Matt. But it has been good. SO good.

Beyond the simple joy of playing with fabric and pattern and color, and beyond the satisfaction of creating something useful with my own two hands, there is the very necessary gratification of starting and finishing a project. It's a gratification that comes rarely in life with little ones, a life where "clean" and "tidy" lasts only a few minutes and where bits of time for my own projects come in 15-minute increments, if that.

But--15-minute increments do add up. A seam here, a seam there--and a child's top or pair of pants is only a few seams, really. So by taking little bits of time over and over again, I've made our home more beautiful and I've kept my kids clothed. Not bad for 15 minutes, is it? 

a few notes: 
:: the quilted squares at the top are seasonal wall hangings, made in a very simple, random log cabin pattern.

:: the pants are made from directions in Amanda Soule's The Creative Family for copying pants from a current pair. I've done this tons of times for Finn, making shorts and pants (and even some flannel-lined ones this cold winter!) Most often for him I've used old t-shirts from Matt, positioning it so that the hem of the shirt is the hem of the pants. I added a butt panel to accomodate Willa's large cloth-diapered bum. And really, how many years in a girl's life will she want attention drawn to her bum? Celebrate it while we can, I say!

:: I've appliqued tons of shirts for Finn like this. Each season he gets a few more ... it's such a great way to cover a stain on a hand-me-down, or just add interest to a plain shirt. This year's additions were a train, a monkey, a panda and an "F". He's previously gotten guitars, elephants, turtles, fish and a sail boat. I use some interfacing to line the applique, then use a zig-zag stitch around the edge. So easy and satisfying--some of my favorite sewing to do. 

:: Two tops for Willa were copied from ones she has, as were the shorts. 

:: The flaphats are from here. Willa is wearing size small, and Finn has size medium. Love these! The pattern makes a reversible hat, and I made Willa's that way, but Finn's I just made with one layer so it wouldn't get too hot. Just added some seam tape around the inside to compensate.  

Some other sites I love for sewing ideas: 
Oliver + s --they have a new book out called Little Things to Sew--can't wait to get my hands on this! 
Made By Rae--this winter they had a "sewing for boys" month, filled with contributions, patterns and ideas for boy's sewing. 



and oh yes, plenty of this too:
When you're in the middle of a job search, it's unavoidable ... But thankfully the sun lured us outside for much of our days. And what sun it was! How one's perspective on life can change so drastically, given a little sun and a little fresh air. It made all of us happy.
The kisses had nothing to do with it. Nope. Not at all. 

Hope your weekend was full of sun and whatever makes you happy, whether it's hunting for the perfect walking stick, getting kisses from one you love, making one you love smile, or digging holes. ("I just love to dig" is something we heard often this weekend, both before and after the beach. And while there? Well, the smiles said it all.)