Game Bags!

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Over winter break I got some much needed time with my sewing machine. Josh and I brought our game Splendor with us to Taiwan and it has been living in his razor bag. It was functional but decidedly not cute, so I decided to turn some fabric from my stash into a cute game bag.

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Since all the Splendor pieces fit so well in the razor bag I modeled the new bag off its dimensions.

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The game has a theme of trade and travel so I chose this leftover wave fabric to represent traveling across the ocean.

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My friend Colleen is awesome and sent me a care package when I was feeling particularly homesick! It was an incredible gift which included a fancy seam ripper and Chickapig, a board game popularized by my beloved Dave Matthews.

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The box design is cute but not great for travel so I decided to make more game bags. Once the board folds up it’s pretty compact. There are a lot of small pieces though so I made a couple of smaller bags and put in velcro closures to ensure nothing fell out.

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There’s enough room in the largest bag to hold the smaller two, making a great traveling case.

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The game has daisy cards which are beneficial so I chose this leftover fabric from my sewing machine cover to reflect them.

Formosa Moon Book Release Party

Josh and I’s book Formosa Moon was officially released October 1st, 2018. We had a great book release party at Taipei’s Red Room. (We actually had our party last October. I’ve just been too busy with grad school to blog.)

Our friend Carrie came out and we were delighted to see her. She has been incredibly supportive of this project and of us. Her site My Several Worlds chronicles her extensive travels and living with chronic illness. Her writing is powerful-do check out her site.

Roger from Goodoo Puppet Troupe came up from Tainan. Goodoo is our favorite puppet troupe in Taiwan and is featured in two chapters in our book. If you visit Taiwan, see one of their live puppet shows. They are phenomenal.

Since Josh and I were dressing up for the party I thought it appropriate that Floyd and Hazel did as well. Hazel’s outfit is repurposed clothes from a local clothing swap. Floyd’s new vest was made with leftover fabric from my sewing machine cover.

We read several chapters from the book. It was fun to get live reactions to our stories. Floyd and Hazel got an encore as did we!

Thank you to all our friends who came out to support us! Special thanks to our friend Tobie who helped keep as grounded as we set up and to Red Room for letting us use their beautiful and welcoming space. We had a great turnout and a wonderful night!

Didn’t make our book release party but still want to read our book? Buy a copy on Amazon here. Alternative booksellers are listed here.

Capris + Shirt = Cute Skirt

My friend Carrie gave me these cute capris. Besides having a fabulous wardrobe Carrie blogs over at My Several Worlds about travel and chronic illness. I highly recommend checking out her site.

The fabric was super cute but I don’t wear capris so grabbed my trusty seam ripper and got to work.

I cut up an old black tshirt that was wearing out and added triangle sections to make a flared skirt.

The capris had a pocket that I transferred over. I’m so happy with how it turned out. And I think of you Carrie when I wear it!

This project was completed last September. Grad school has kept me far away from blogland. The next month I made a bold move and cut my hair.

I’ve joined the pixie club and love it!

Formosa Moon Promotion

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Now that our book Formosa Moon has been released, Josh and I are starting to do more promotion. Our latest was for a tv show and we got the full treatment. You can buy our book here.

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Despite my side eye to the mascara, the experience was fun. The hair and make up person curled my hair and I swear I could feel it straightening back out during the interview.

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Even Hazel and Floyd got spruced up!

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More details soon!

Sick in Singapore

Our Australia vacation was quite the adventure. And like any true adventure it had its highs and its lows. Since I’m a bad news first, good news second kind of gal I’ll cover the low part first.

During the end of our time in Australia we both caught the flu from a friend. I fought it for several days but it dug its claws in and put me in rough shape.

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My eyes were so red I looked possessed! A doctor in Singapore filled me up with medications and told me to stay in my hotel room. The trouble was my ear drums were in danger of rupturing if I flew so I had to rest up to recover enough that I could fly back to Taiwan. My trip to Singapore can be summarized by this photo

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which is the view out of our hotel room. It was a long three days of self-quarantine. Josh was feeling better so was able to explore the city and visit with friends. He brought me back delicious Singaporean food-a mango coconut rice dessert was my favorite. While visiting our friend Trust he got interviewed about Formosa Moon. The Taiwan News ran an English translation of the article.

Lonely Planet travel writer to publish book about Taiwan

Inspired by our soon to be released book they created a Top 7 list of books about Taiwan.

Top 7 non-fiction books about Taiwan

As for our book, Formosa Moon comes out October 1st. You can pre-order it here.

I’ll cover the awesome parts of our vacation next post.

Topics Magazine and Photo of the Day

Last September I met Vanessa Tseng at the Taiwan International Beauty Show to interview her about her product the Formoonsa Cup. I reviewed the cup on my blog here.

I wrote a feature about Vanessa’s company in the February edition of Topics Magazine. The article is called New Strides in Promoting Women’s Health and also includes a write up about GlaxoSmithKline’s partnership with a Taiwanese company. GSK has developed a new drug to treat lupus and the Taiwanese medical device company has developed a device to allow lupus patients to inject the drug themselves through subcutaneous injection.

In other news Taiwan recently had a rush on toilet paper. Stores across the island sold out and the panic even made international news. I snapped a photo of Josh leaning on some newly stocked shelves and it made Taiwan News’ photo of the day.

Photo of the Day: End of the roll for Taiwan toilet paper panic

There’s some exciting Formosa Moon news on the horizon. Stay tuned!

Lost In Taipei

What should have been a ten minute bus ride ended up being a two and a half hour misadventure. My language exchange partner Albert had brought me to a polyglot meeting across town. It was fun meeting new people and when we parted ways at the MRT station I was positive I could get home. All of the MRT’s signs and maps are translated into English so is easily navigated.

My subway trip was uneventful. At the bus top I hopped on a bus that I regularly ride to school, certain it would pass our apartment on its route to campus. It was after nine, quite dark and I was tired from a night of socializing. By the time I realized I wasn’t on the road to my house the bus was in another neighborhood. I still recognized landmarks and soon we were pulling into a familiar MRT/bus station.

Perhaps the bus was making a loop before heading to campus? It made sense at the time so I stayed seated. Familiar landmarks soon disappeared as the bus traveled further into the outer stretches of Taipei. Buildings become smaller and large stretches of bare land appeared. By this point most of the passengers had departed and there were only two other people on board. As traffic dramatically thinned I doubted I could hop off and easily hail a taxi.

I asked the bus driver in Mandarin if he was going to my road. He didn’t understand me so I tried in English hoping he’d understand. “Oh God,” he replied in English which I took as a bad sign. He held up a finger and thought for a moment. A few minutes later he pulled over and gestured towards a bus stop, telling me which bus to get on next. I pulled out my MRT card to pay but he shook his head telling me “bu, bu”. I thanked him and walked to the bus stop. The driver drove up a small hill into a parking lot lined with buses. Apparently I had ridden to the end of its route.

My new stop was pretty remote and dark. The area had lots of trees but only a few lights on the main road. The side road to the parking lot was lined with tall metal fencing, piles of random metal and chunks of cement. A stone table and bench was nestled in the shadows but I didn’t dare sit down, worried the new driver wouldn’t see me and would drive on past. A lone bulb shone down on the actual bus sign. The big city noises I have grown accustomed to were conspicuously absent. Across the street three dogs sat in their driveway which was lined by a metal sheeting fence, obscuring any structure behind. The dogs paced and took turns barking in my direciton. Was I still in Taipei? Google Maps told me no.

A man soon came jogging down the hill. It was my bus driver and he came to tell me the bus I wanted was coming in 45. It was 10:34pm. Was it coming at 10:45 or in another 45 minutes? I tried to ask in Mandarin and he nodded, saying “45, you wait here” in English. I was grateful for his help. Determined not to whine to Josh that I was lost yet again I had avoided texting him. He guessed though and after I sent him a screenshot of the map told me I was pretty far outside the city and would be lucky to get home by midnight.

I had been so sure of how to get home! But a bus was coming in either 10 or 45 minutes. I just had to be patient. The dogs across the street started creeping closer, their barks taking on a menacing tone. I hissed back and they slowly went back to their side of the street. They sprang back into action when a motorcycle drove out of the parking lot, chasing it down the hill until it turned onto the main road. As the bike drove out of sight the dogs turned and ran straight towards me.

Taipei is a safe city and while this bus mix up was frustrating I hadn’t felt scared despite being stranded in the countryside. But as there dogs came rushing towards me I felt a surge of fear. They were growling and suddenly their teeth seemed quite large. I didn’t dare try to outrun them in an unknown neighborhood. Plus my bus was due any minute!

Years ago I lived in a notoriously rough neighborhood in Northern New Mexico. (The Mesa has such a reputation that it boasts it’s own disturbing documentary that features some of my ex-neighbors.) My Mesa years were grueling ones and I spent many hours walking remote dirt roads where a stray dog could jump you any moment. Despite my fear, I knew just what to do.

The dogs surrounded me growling. One chomped its jaws menacingly. Growling bark I swung my purse around widely. It had my phone, wallet and a bottle of water-if they got any closer they’d get smacked with enough weight to sting. Then I started jumping in the air while swinging my arms to appear as large as possible. I screamed barked at the dogs until they backed down. They slowly made their way across the street as we barked at each other. I continued jumping and swinging my purse until they were back in their driveway. The three continued to growl but kept their distance.

But what if another motorcycle drove by? Would my strategy work a second time? I was mulling over defense strategies when two headlights appeared at the top of the hill. My bus! It had only been ten minutes but if felt like an hour. The other driver waved me aboard and as I sat down a wave of exhaustion hit me. The ride home was long but uneventful. The new driver even told me when to get off which I appreciated though by then I recognized our neighborhood. Safely back home I sank into bed next to Josh a few minutes before midnight. Taiwan has excellent public transportation but clearly I need to spend some more time learning the bus system.

Fingers and Puppets

I spent last night knitting in bed while listening to a podcast accompanied by gentle, persistent rain. This alpaca yarn smells so good! Now that the fingers are made I’m zipping along on the main hand section.

Josh took me shopping in the Song Shang District last night. I did not bring enough socks with me so stocked up. Check out my Gudetama socks!

That lazy little egg cracks me up. There were lots of interesting clothes.

As a costume designer I’d certainly say fashion is important in life! Furthermore, I think it can be incredibly empowering.

We also visited the Puppetry Art Center of Taipei.

Their displays were excellent and they even had shadow puppets.

Hopefully, I will be lining up a puppet gig soon. I am completely enthralled.