Monday, 30 June 2008

Golden Rays Necklace

I made few more beaded spoke beads following instructions from Carol Wilcox Wells' "The Art & Elegance of Beadweaving" book. They are weaved from tiny seed beads over the wooden beads. I strung the finished beaded beads on the memory wire to make this simple necklace.

For such a simple necklace I learned many new things in the process of making it: how to use crimp pliers, the properties of memory wire, the advantages of coating the thread with beeswax before use, that practice does make perfect and increases the speed with which I can accomplish things.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Raising a tree-hugger

Months ago I started to encourage Cat to touch the tree bark as a reuse to get her to walk few more steps or to distract her from hunger, tiredness or grumpiness. Now, on her own accord, she often stops to touch the trees and to give them a hug. Both of us are enjoying spending lots of time outside while the weather is good: playing with the ball, running, looking at the flowers, collecting rocks and hugging trees. I'm glad summer is here.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

To love and be loved

I was sitting on the floor yesterday playing with my daughter. Suddenly she walked up to me, put her arms tightly around my neck, leaned her whole body against mine and rested her head on my shoulder. My breath caught by the sweetness of her hug, I stayed still afraid to disturb the perfect moment, trying to prolong it for few extra precious seconds. She showed affection towards me before, but never her hugs were so strong and full of love. At that instant my heart felt close to bursting from all the love I felt for her. And yet again I was reminded to be thankful for the joys of motherhood, for being loved and for having a chance to love unconditionally.

Photo taken in Odessa by Clive. I couldn't resist getting a shot with a lion as I have few similar ones taken during my childhood trips to the Black Sea. I wish my photo-albums were here instead of Australia, so I could scan one or two for comparison.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


The climate, the buildings, the people, even the dust of Ukraine reminded me of the place in which I grew up. I have many bad memories from my childhood in Soviet Russia and even more totally awesome ones, therefore my reactions to many situations and things in Ukraine were often extreme in both their negativity and positivity. The overwhelming strength of my feelings left me confused and slightly exhausted; and just as I started getting to grips with them it was time to go back to London. I wish I had few more weeks to enjoy the company of wonderful friends, the sunshine and the sea. I’m the wrong person to tell you about Ukraine as I won’t be able to do justice to its beauty, richness and complexity. If you get a chance go there and experience it for yourself.

The photos from Kiev are on Flickr and I will upload Odessa photos by the end of this week. More photos and the actual write up of what we did and saw can be found on my cousin's blog.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Japan: family, craft, etc

It is past 10 o'clock, in the few hours we have to get up at 3am to fly to Odessa and I still haven’t finished writing about Japan, so here are some quick bullet points:

  • The Japanese side of the family were very hospitable, took us on the car trip to the Kairaku-en park (one of three biggest parks in Japan), gave us presents, enjoyed playing with The Little Girl, worried about us being too cold, etc. But again the language was major barrier. I wish I could communicate my gratitude for all their generosity and kindness, so I want to send them a small present – I just need to figure out what type of English things someone from Japan may enjoy.
  • It was very interesting to meet few more members of Clive’s family as until now I only met his dad, who came to visit us last year. Cheryl, the mother of the bride, used to be a computer programmer when punch-cards were in use, but now she makes beautiful miniature porcelain dolls. Luckily for me she made one for a Japanese friends and I got to see it – the level of detail and workmanship are impressive. You can see for yourself at her Miniature Porcelain dolls from Africa website.
  • I’m glad we stayed in the small town with fewer tourist attractions, as we didn’t feel the need to rush around trying to get to see everything. Instead we could take time to pause in the small temples and enjoy sunshine in the Hachimanyama Park.
  • At the same time we had an option of catching the train to other towns, while we choose not to go to Tokyo we did make it to Nikko to marvel at the beautiful architecture.
  • Totally accidentally I managed to visit a craft store: in the shopping complex, planning to go down, we got into the lift with an old woman; she pressed the button for one of the upper floors; and once there, at least according to my husband, it took me only a second to realize what I was seeing and forget about everything else in the world. After tiny London craft shops this one looked heavenly huge, but sadly I couldn't buy everything I liked or needed.
  • The wedding was held at the beautiful park and both bride and groom looked fantastic. I enjoyed both the wedding and the reception and here is a photo of me in the park before the wedding.
As always more photos can be seen on Flickr.

Japan: kuwaee

Before we went to Japan my friend gave me a short list of few useful Japanese words. One of them was kuwaee – cute. I paid more attention to the other ones, but she was right – kuwaee was the word we heard most often in Japan. Outside of our hotel room we were met with lots of smiles and adoration of Cat’s cuteness. Women of all ages were the most open and loud in their praise for the cute kid – the younger ones would often dissolve into giggles and excited hand waving, while the older ones would try to strike a conversation with The Little Girl and myself. I wish I could speak Japanese. After the reserved attitude of most London inhabitants it was fantastic to have some friendly attention and I loved to see how much love is shown towards children in Japan in general. I liked the fact that we didn’t see many prams around; most small children were carried or walked next to their parents/careers. So I did the same (as I do anyway in London when we aren’t going too far) trying to encourage The Little Girl to walk more.

The Japanese streets are free of rubbish, in over a week there I only saw one abandoned can, and so I found our walks less stressful. Here in London I constantly have to stop The Little Girl from picking up beer cans, bits of broken glass, food wrappers and cigarette buts, which often results in frustration for both of us. Anyway back to the topic of this post, in Stratford-upon-Avon we kept on running into Japanese tourist groups and it was fun to understand one word – kuwaee. Are there any words from foreign languages that you learned during your trips and still remember?

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The breaking news

The Little Girl climbed onto the chair today. I never saw her try before, but today she just walked up to one and calmly climbed on top of it. It probably doesn’t sound very momentous to you as she was climbing onto beds and the couch for ages, but our childproofing method so far consisted of mainly moving things up out of her reach and we are quickly running out of space. I guess next she will be trying to climb out of her cot. I’m really not looking forward to trying to rearrange everything again.

She also got her dad to play dress up with her today while I sneaked out to the supermarket. On my return I found her wearing a black long-sleeve t-shirt, grey pyjama bottoms, white trainers and sparkly pink & purple dress. She brought each item to Clive and got him to help her put them on. Julia, you would be proud! Sadly there are no photos as she wouldn't stay still.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Japan: food

While in Japan The Little Girl didn’t eat much and I’m still not sure if it was due to teething, change of schedule or unfamiliarity of food. Not knowing any Japanese Clive and I were few times surprised by our food being totally different from what we imagined it to be: sweets turned out to be salty crackers; plain bread rolls full of custard filling; etc. Nearly every morning we couldn’t resist getting some pastries from Denmark Bakery and while I love Asian interpretation of European pastries sometimes we couldn’t figure out the ingredients at all, which slightly freaked Clive out, as he prefers to know what he is eating. One of my best pastry finds came at the end of our trip in the airport – green tea and white chocolate chip bagels – not surprisingly as my favourite flavour of ice-cream is green tea and trying out different types of green tea flavoured food was high on my agenda.

I also got to introduce Clive to gyoza and ate lots of sushi myself. Most of my sushi came from the supermarket as both the little girl and I were too tired by the end of the day to try to struggle through the late dinner with the rest of the family – thankfully Japanese supermarkets have great selection of sushi. On the other hand Clive got to experience a wider range of restaurants including Italian one, Italian cuisine seem to be very popular in Japan, and a proper Japanese banquet of about 12 mostly seafood courses organized by Aki’s parents in honour of the bride and groom.

Our breakfast at the hotel consisted of miso soup, rice and picked vegetables. Cat decided to use chopsticks like everyone else, despite being given a spoon by friendly staff, and she loved mixing the soup, attempting to pick up rice and generally waving them around, while the rest of us tried very hard to protect our eyes from her enthusiastic wielding of chopsticks.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Quotes, talking and our trip

I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups, and asked them whether the drawing frightened them.
But they answered: "Frighten? Why should any one be frightened by a hat?"

My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery "The Little Prince"

Polina, Driftwood and Katy, thank you for providing other suggestions for what this drawing could be. I'm looking forward to the day when The Little Girl will be able to tell me herself what she is drawing, feeling and thinking. Though she may choose to keep the explanations to herself believing that:

Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery "The Little Prince"

There isn't very much progress with talking, though recently The Little Girl started answering my questions with very loud and clear Да (Yes) and on Friday she said Baby in very happy sing-song voice, so throughout our car trip to Stratford-upon-Avon she and I would burst into chanting Baby-Baby to the amusement of everyone else. We also enjoyed eating delicious food at the King's Arms in Mickleton; looking at (and smelling) the myriad beautiful flowers; and exploring Warwick castle, cute Cotswolds villages and old houses.

Photo of Anne Hathaway's Cottage

However the biggest highlight of our trip for me was the visit to the Mary Arden's Farm (childhood home of Shakespeare's mother ). The guides there are dressed in the replica Tudor clothing and are happy to chat about the daily farm activities they perform in the same way as was done in the 16th Century. I found them very knowledgeable, friendly, enthusiastic and interesting. And there were various farm animals to keep The Little Girl entertained - she loved patting and feeding the sheep and chasing after the chickens.
Few more photos are on Flickr