Sunday, February 19, 2012

Souvenirs for Ourselves

Maybe this is part of being grown up, but I get more of a kick buying souvenirs for everyone else instead of for myself. Ben usually has to kind of restrain me, because I'll be like, "Oooh, my stepmother-in-law's dog's best friend's owner would LOVE this!" It's ludicrous.

We bought oodles and gobs of souvenirs for friends and family when we were in China, which really was so fun for me. As for souvenirs for ourselves, Ben bought me three pairs of Uggs for only $30 each at the silk market, which I adore.

We're kind of displaying the fan Summer got Ben for his birthday - I really should mount it properly in a shadow box one of these days. It gets awfully dusty. I was dusting the wood on the handles and got a nasty sliver the other day:

(The elephant in front of the fan isn't from China - Ben's biological grandfather on his biological mom's side carved that, I believe.)

Maria got Ben a Chinese calligraphy brush that I need to shadow box, as well. It's beautiful.

Ben picked a souvenir for himself that I thought was kind of weird, at first - a tea set:

Why is that weird, you ask? Because we don't drink tea. But Ben wanted to buy a set for art's sake. He really feels that tea sets are beautiful works of art, in and of themselves. I agree. These were all hand-thrown (?). (Is that how you make china? I don't know. The gal just indicated that, somehow, they were sculpted by hand. I imagine on a pottery wheel. But you never know.) When Ben said he was going to the tea shop to buy a set, I envisioned something entirely different. Maybe more lacquered? And maybe red and black or something? Maybe with intricate paintings of flowers on them? I was surprised at what he picked out, but I like it very much.

He said the gal at the shop showed him all kinds of stuff about tea. There is so much custom about having tea with someone. The direction in which you swirl the tea as you are pouring it into a cup indicates whether you're happy to have them there with you, or whether they aren't your favorite guest. You serve certain people first. Certain people drink first. On and on. The woman that owns the shop is actually a professor of TEA ARTS at that university in Baoding. That is how much there is to the ancient custom of tea in China! Enough that you can MAJOR in it! Amazing.

There was one other cup with the set, but it broke in our bags on the way home, despite extremely careful packing. I swear those airline guys just throw your bags around... And, sadly, in my dusting extravaganza (the same one in which I got a nasty sliver), one of the cups dropped onto our hardwood floor and shattered. Luckily, that tea shop is right there in Baoding. Ben has strict instructions to go back there and get replacement cups to bring home next month (fingers crossed on him getting home next month for a visit).

Ben bought this beautiful finger painting in the silk market, and I got it matted and framed for him for Christmas:

I had to have a mat especially cut. I really wanted to double-mat it, but the single mat was $25 all by its itty bitty self. And I wasn't interested in doubling that amount for a double mat. Hopefully it looks alright. And yes, that is a finger painting. He used black paint and did that whole thing with his hands. He had one of those long, scraggly pinky fingernails that he used for detail work, and he used parts of his palm for fog, trees, etc. It's truly amazing. And gorgeous.

Have I ever told you how much I love it that Ben loves art as much as I do???

And finally, the piece de resistance, the Valentine's Day gift Ben got for me in the silk market:

Could you just DIE?? Gorgeous. Amazing. Perfect. It's a painting of a cherry blossom tree. And it's huge. I have a perfect home for it on one of my golden walls in my living room. It will be so happy there. Gotta probably buy another custom mat for it, but it's worth it. It, like the finger painting, is on a scroll, so it will easily transport home. I can't wait for it to get here.

Ben will probably be in China clear until December or so, with visits home every few months, so I've informed him that he needs to buy all of my presents this year in China, then bring them home when he comes - my birthday present, Mother's Day, Christmas... :) I love it.


megan said...

That's so funny that you love to shop for other people. I totally understand though. It is fun shopping for yourself, but only so much. I LOVE the bracelet you gave me!! It's absolutely gorgeous!:) I can't wait to see that cherry blossom painting in your living room!!

Lyndsay said...

That is beautiful, I love cherry blossom trees, amazing.

Make sure to use the 50% (or whatever it is, but usually around that) off custom framing coupons at JoAnn or Michael's, that should help somewhat with the cost.

I also love that tea set, it's just simple and beautiful.

Emily Empey said...

haha good idea about gifts in china! I want some Uggs soooo and! so cute! I love your souvenirs!

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