Mooncakes and Mandarin

As I look out my window at the New England postcard of blazing autumn color, the events of late summer seem long passed. But I did want to recap the Dragon Boat & Asian Festival in Hartford, CT. I had a great day of crafting with the kids and had a dear friend helping out (thank goodness!). I also made a new friend that offered paper folding and was amazingly skilled. She was a math teacher and also runs the origami club at her school.

In September I helped lead crafts for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine here in Portland. This was extra-special for three reasons; I had never partnered with the dynamic outreach director at the museum but had wanted to after floating ideas with her for years. Also, I participated as part of our CAFAM organization so had some other crafty board members by my side. And lastly, it’s always more fun when my daughter participates! She had a great time and remembered being a small child there herself, climbing on the firetruck and shopping for play food.

Mandarin classes are underway and I’m already experiencing the huge positive difference in working with an excellent teacher rather than tackling it on my own. This is what she does! It feels odd to have homework, a text and workbook, and be on the student side of life, but since my daughter is currently looking at colleges(!) I guess I’m serving as a fine example! Well, we’ll see…..

Next post, I’ll be ballyhooing my updated website and will have ‘Year of the Pig’ planning in the works. New crafts, for sure. For now, get out and vote!

Mid-Autumn Mooncakes in Maine

The leaves are changing and dropping and the beach chairs have been retired for another hibernation. We are easing into Fall with weeks of crazy-balmy weather in Maine.

I was slated to dish up Lucky Bamboo Crafts at two Mid-Autumn Festival events but sadly, the Boston Chinatown Main Street organization needed to cancel due to heavy rain. However, I was invited to a delicious dim sum lunch with the lovely director, Courtney Ho before I headed back north. Hopefully I will catch them at their Lion Dance Competition in November.

The next day I was back in Portland, at the CAFAM Mid-Autumn Festival. I’m on the board now, so I was especially devoted to a successful event, and we delivered with a full festival program and several musical performances. This is perhaps the most Chinese-attended event in Maine during the year with bilingual conversations in the air and a sumptuous potluck of homemade Chinese food. I was in heaven!

My craft area was on major cute-alert as the pictures display. We made a lantern (adapted for Moonfest), along with some paper folding and as always, personal creations by the kids.

I learned more this year about how the Mid-Autumn Festival fits into the Golden Week. In Boston, they were kicking off the week with China’s National Day (celebrating the founding of the PRC in 1949) on October 1st and dignitaries were visiting the city. Most families in China have paid holidays and use this entire week to travel, with the Moon Festival holiday falling mid-week. I always love learning more about the culture and significant holidays in China!

I’ll be traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area soon to visit beloved friends. I also may stop in on a couple of Bay Area companies interested in my craft pursuits. One item on my wish list is to further explore Oakland’s Chinatown, and although much smaller than the iconic San Francisco Chinatown, there is a vibrant Asian community, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find an incredible dumpling.

Dragon Boats and Lobsters

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Photo credit: Hartford Courant

Greetings from Maine! Summer is still here, as far as I’m concerned. My daughter doesn’t go back to school until after Labor Day, of course falling late this year. So I see it as my obligation, living in “Vacationland”, to wedge in more fun with friends and family, and eat more lobster.

I’ve woven a couple of great events into our Lucky Bamboo Crafts schedule this summer… an experience in contrasts. Each gave us a unique opportunity to share Chinese culture with very different audiences.

The Newport Cultural Center near Bangor, Maine hosted a Chinese craft and culture activity time at their multi-purpose center and library. The summer program kids and other local library visitors in that area do not get much exposure to other cultures outside Maine rural life so it was very satisfying to share what I could about China. And with my daughter by my side leading the origami table, this proud mama also got to interject a bit about adoption and being a multicultural, multi-race family.

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Then off to Hartford, CT for the Riverfront Dragon Boat and Asian Festival which I attended for the first time two years ago. I was yet again completely energized by the huge vibrant and diverse crowd. Along with leading the craft tables, I made sure to spend some time watching the dragon boat races, enjoying the performances and eating delicious Asian fare. Now that Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts has been out for a couple of years, it’s particularly exciting when I’m able to still share my inspiration with loads of new people including educators and multi-ethnic families.

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My Crowdtivate campaign was extended for a few more weeks so please check out this link to my video and details! https://www.crowdtivate.com/projects/view/4261  I’m excited to be branching out to craft kits and appreciate the funding that has already been donated to bring this to life.

The months ahead are still being planned for Chinese crafts. The Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, and the Year of the Monkey (as much as I don’t want to think about February in New England) will be my focus for planning some events and designing some new crafts. But for now, the lobster and warm breezes prevail!

Teaching Crafts and the Gift of Libraries

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Merrill Memorial Library, Yarmouth, ME- the first library to circulate the book

Recently I celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by teaching about the holiday and sharing a moon lantern craft at our public library in Portland, Maine. I’ve done several library events to date, and once again I was met with great enthusiasm, support and flawless organization. Once again I got to spend time with a fantastic children’s librarian (thanks, Jerri!) that was incredibly intelligent, creative, inspired and full of energy.

Public libraries have been so receptive to folding Lucky Bamboo Book of Crafts into their event calendars, buying it for their circulation, and getting on board with celebrating different cultures and holidays. (Actually they were already on board… just check out the collection for multicultural education in your local children’s and youth rooms!)

I know I’ve been a bit (ahem) stingy with photos in previous blog entries so here are some highlights of my wonderful library experiences over recent months. You’d think with the amount of time I spend perusing Pinterest, I’d know to offer up more visuals! I confess I’m a bit private and camera shy…. but what I think you’ll see is how “in my element” I am with the kids, the crafts and the fun. I’m not one to sit on an author pedestal autographing books… what fun is that?

Summer Reading Kick-off; Prince Memorial Library, Cumberland, ME
Summer Reading Kick-off; Prince Memorial Library, Cumberland, ME

Folding chopstick cases; Chebeague Island Library, Maine
Folding chopstick cases; Chebeague Island Library, Maine

Chebeague Island Library with head librarian Deb Bowman. This small library has a big heart and is the center of island activity and community connection
Chebeague Island Library with head librarian Deb Bowman. This small library has a big heart and is the center of island activity and community connection

Portland Public Library, Maine; making a moon lantern with paper strips and a straw
Portland Public Library, Maine; making a moon lantern with paper strips and a straw

Times are changing for libraries with the lightning speed of technology growth and the pressure to do more and do it smarter and better, often on less budget. And of course there is the issue of the book. The real one. On the shelf. Will there be a future? All interesting and a little ominous.

Keep visiting your public libraries, make donations, attend events, offer suggestions, bring the kids to storytime…. we need our local libraries as much as our libraries need our community support!