Vintage fabric becomes a new skirt

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My friends P&T gave me this awesome vintage fabric. The design was so colorful and detailed I knew anything I made with it had to be simple to highlight the gorgeous elements. I cut the fabric to showcase a full circle and half circle on both front and back panels of a skirt.

The fabric had colorful edging so I cut one side off and added it to the bottom edge. The other side was thick enough to be featured on each side of the skirt. Josh, as always, was making me laugh during the photo shoot.

Though it’s currently cold in Taiwan, even in Xiao LiuQiu where these photos were taken, I knew the hot temperatures of summer weren’t far away. Side slits will help keep me cool this summer. In the meantime the skirt is light enough that it doesn’t add too much bulk when layering.

Wild Boar Trench is a beautiful nature walk on Xiao LiuQiu. The banyon trees curl gracefully around large rocks and vines have beautiful, large leaves.

Xiao LiuQiu also has a lot of stray cats. Locals feed them and there is a spay and neuter program.

They also have an adoption program. We could have taken a dozen of them home!

A girly shrug from unwearable leggings

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Last week I finished another sewing transformation project. This one actually started back in November. Grad school is great but also intense. You can tell Josh took these photos because he’s making me laugh.

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These leggings were supposed to be one size fits all but they didn’t fit me. I really liked the pattern though and suspected I could turn them into leggings. I took my trusty seam ripper and took out the elastic waist and separated the legs. After attaching them together by the waist ends, I sewed on some ruffled black trim I bought at a fabulous store on Dihua street that sells trim and groovy patches.

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There’s an abundance of art, history and food to explore in the Dadocheng neighborhood but if you love to sew like me it’s Dihua street that’s the gold mine. There’s so many fabric stores with a dizzying variety of textiles for sale. Josh wrote about the neighborhood here.

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The legs that became the sleeves were too long so I took a few inches off of them. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

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These leggings made a shrug that’s stretchy and comfortable. I can see wearing this a lot in the spring when Taipei is starting to warm up but there’s still a hint of chill in the air.

While walking around Taipei we found this cool street art.

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This is an interesting bit of graffiti. The Formosan black bear has become an icon for Taiwan and is portrayed as happy and smiling. This gritty reboot is a new twist.

Knitting, hiking, studying

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Grad school is great but  demands most of my time these days. Josh and I recently went to Maokong, one of our favorite spots to get out of the city and into nature.

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This decoration is from a tea restaurant and takes me back to my favorite PSU class-History of the Dress.

My lotus project is slowly progressing. I laid all the petals out to inspire me to keep working. After this next skein is worked out I’ll make larger petals and one day get to switch to green yarn.

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I squeezed some time and made it back to the Taiyuan Puppet Museum.

It’s so nice hanging with Kim and the puppets again! I’m helping her on making a new costume for demo purposes.

It was wonderful to take a day to focus on costume problems instead of international ones. A much needed break!

Maokong was beautiful as always and this time Josh and I joined our friend Olivia for a hike to a waterfall.

So beautiful and peaceful and only a short ride from Taipei.

On an unrelated note, I always take free tissues from people handing them out. Spare tissue is practical to carry but sometimes I get delightful surprises like this package:

These ladies feel my current mood under all this homework. Three more weeks of fall semester left!

 

Formoonsa Cup Review

Last month I attended the Taiwan International Beauty Show to interview Vanessa Tseng, inventor of the Formoonsa Cup. Vanessa’s story is quite interesting and I’ll post the interview soon. In addition to giving me some of her time (her booth at the Beauty Show was quite busy) she also gave me a Formoonsa Cup standard set to review.

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The first thing you notice is the beautiful artwork by illustrator W.Y. Cloudie Chang. The artwork sets a gentle and whimsical tone, making the  idea of reusable menstrual cups quite approachable.

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The inside of the box continues this theme with happy flowers. Some women find the idea of inserting a menstrual cup into their vaginas intimidating and this packaging works to ease tensions.

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There are two silicone cups that come in the standard set. This close up makes the cups seem large but they’re not really. The training cup is 10 ml and the standard cup is 20ml. Women who have given birth might prefer the large cup set which comes with a 30 ml cup.

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The cup is designed to look like a flower bud. This distinction sets it apart from other reusable menstrual cups on the market. The top part of the flower folds inward to prevent any blood from leaking upon removal. Such a clever design detail.

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This illustration is on the side of the box and shows how the lip folds in to prevent leakage.

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The smaller training cup has a longer loop, making it easier to retrieve and remove.

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The set includes one reusable pantyliner. While getting used to the cup, the user can wear this pantyliner to ease any worries about leakage. Once properly inserted leaks aren’t an issue but it’s a good idea to use this when first getting used to the system. (More on that below.)

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The last item is this adorable bag. At the expo Vanessa’s booth had many samples and there was a wide variety of textile patterns. There were several pretty floral designs but I’m happy I got these cute hedgehogs.

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From start to finish the Formoonsa Cup is beautifully designed. The shape of the cup strongly resembles the flower on the cover.

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The bag has plenty of room for the cup. I had enough extra room to fit in the reusable pantyliner, some spare tampons and some Ibuprofen.

When it came time to review I was convinced I didn’t need to use the training cup. I’ve had my vagina for 41 years. Certainly I could get a silicone cup in and out of it easily. Right? Turns out I was completely wrong and should have followed Vanessa’s suggestion of starting with the training up first.

After my period started I watched several YouTube videos for tips. Turns out there’s a plethora of how to videos on just this subject. (Fear not, vloggers use colored water or oil for their demos) I dutifully folded up my cup and expected to be done in under a minute.

Several minutes later I was forced to admit this was more difficult that I thought. To avoid making a mess, I grabbed the trainer cup and hopped in the shower. For first timers I actually suggest this. The hot water helped relax me and washed any blood right down the drain. Another tip-file your nails first. Trust me on this one.

The training cup is much easier to insert, position correctly and remove. Once the training cup is mastered it’s much easier to manipulate the bigger one. After about an hour of wearing the cup I stopped noticing it. If you’ve used tampons chances are you’ll adapt to using a reusable cup easily.

Reusable menstrual cups are gaining in popularity and it’s easy to see why. They’re environmentally friendly and don’t contain chemicals. The intimacy needed to use one is healthy and has the potential to build a positive relationship with one’s own genitals. Disposable pads and tampons create a stigma towards menstrual blood-it is something odious that must be immediately thrown away. Reusable cups and cloth pads creates an understanding of one’s own menstrual cycle that I believe is quite healthy and revolutionary in this industry. By giving the package and cups such a pleasant design, Vanessa is helping to erase some of the negative stigmas around menstruation. The Formoonsa Cup is an excellent product to try if you’d like to start using reusable menstrual products.

Formoonsa Cup can be bought from their online store or in Taiwan at Cosmed.

Top transformation

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I brought home another dud from my last shopping trip. There was no dressing room but this tank tank looked pretty cool on the hanger.

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But when I put it on at home these poofs at the bottom made me look lumpy. They were not flattering at all so I cut them out. The inner black tank top fit wonderfully and was super soft so I left it as is.

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There was almost enough for sleeves but not quite. I cut off fabric from the bottom tapering down to the front sides. The tank top had a tie at the back that I removed and reused as trim for the front opening.

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With the tapered front ties the fabric flow was kept intact.

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The sleeves had to be patched together but since the fabric is so thin the seams aren’t really noticeable when wearing.

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The tapered front makes a really great tie.

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I’m so happy how this top transformation turned out!

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A sewing success.

In other news, Josh wrote up two great blog posts for My Taiwan Tour about traveling in Taiwan while gluten free.

Gluten Free Eating in Taiwan Part One: Restaurant Dining

Gluten Free Eating in Taiwan (Part Two): Wheat Free Snacks and Gluten Free Night Market Fare

We learned a lot of this while traveling around the island for our upcoming book Formosa Moon. If you have a gluten allergy fear not-there’s still plenty for you to eat in Taiwan. As for the book, stuff is happening behind the scenes. I’ll post news as soon as I can!

Pantree Restaurant

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On of my favorite restaurants in Taipei, Oh Cha Cha recently opened up a new venue called Pantree, which boasted a completely gluten free menu. A gluten free restaurant in Taiwan?! I was cautiously hopeful. Josh and I met our friend Carrie, who took this cute pic of us, for lunch on opening day.

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The menu is bilingual and indeed completely gluten free. Their kombucha, which is rare to find for sale in Taiwan, was flavorful and slightly fizzy. I jumped at the chance to try GF pizza and was very happy with the doughy crust. So tasty and I didn’t have to cook it myself.

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Yummy snickerdoodle cookies for dessert! Pantree was giving out free mini GF muffins for opening day but we ate ours too quickly for a pic.

It is such a luxury to eat at a restaurant where I can safely eat everything on the menu. An allergy to gluten is not very common in Taiwan and is often misunderstood. I have gotten sick a handful of times eating out so am hesitant to try new places without Josh to translate my diet restrictions. Finding a restaurant that both understands and caters to GF eating is gratifying.

Thank you Pantree! Everything was scrumptious and I’ll definitely be back.

Home cooking

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Life is getting busy now that grad school has started. But despite my full days I’ve managed to squeeze in some home cooking. The above pic is my latest batch of kombucha. I left this one in for a full two weeks and it turned out delicious. I think my scoby mothers have fully matured as these last few batches have turned out very well.

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I have an early morning class so these biscottis were great breakfast meals. They are made with almond flour so are naturally gluten free. I definitely need to make more. Our friend Li Chun brought us some homemade coconut chocolate as a housewarming present and it made a great topping.

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Josh and I were hanging in Dihua, one of my fave neighborhoods, when we found a vendor selling black garlic. Black garlic! I’ve been meaning to try this for months but hadn’t found any.

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At first I thought it was fermented but some sources say it’s carmalized. Black garlic is incredibly distinct and has a taste reminiscent of figs. There was a moment when I thought “I should make my own” but my pile of reading for school tells me otherwise. It pairs well with so many foods I definitely recommend trying some.