Museum Findings

I thought you might enjoy looking through some of the snapshots I took while exploring the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History on Saturday. I especially enjoyed the exhibition detailing animals from the ice age. Its funny because some of the exhibits with fish and sea-monster-looking-dinosaurs reminded me of our days watching “Ice Age,” when Sid freaks out while walking around, alone, in ice tunnels.

The way that these creatures are displayed in skeletal form is spectacular. Five weeks into drawing classes, I am beginning to “visualize on paper” everything that I see; from plants to cars to dinosaurs. The information that is communicated by the skeleton version of these creatures is extremely helpful to an overall understanding of their form and movement.

I know the above description may be too small to read, but try to zoom in anyway… the second portion of this excerpt is very relative to the way items and scenes are captured today. So many of the photos we tumblr or draw come from every day occurrences– just think about instagram when you read this.


Depicted above, is my favorite painting from the short hour I spent walking into rooms full of art. I love the serenity illustrated through the lone ship and solo ice burg. The artist did a beautiful job depicting ice and water.

Finally, these chairs… aren’t they fascinating! Imagine a C4 studio with one large wood table in the middle, surrounded by 2 of each of these chairs… and the “scriptorium” rolled out with markers aplenty- some day maybe 🙂

Miss you all-I can’t wait until you get to come and share some of these experiences with me for real!

Porch Camping

You know, perhaps best, that Tianjin has yet to offer the autumn festivities we were accustomed too in America. It requires a lot of effort to get in the mood, but I was certainly bot going to waste the season! I decided to invite Maddie and Megan to a small camp out on the porch. We awkwardly gathered some sticks from around the neighborhood (along with some stares). On our little red grill we built a fire that barely lasted long enough to roast a few s’mores. It was so fun though; we had our indie rock music going and a pile of pillows to lounge on. Everything was there but you! We all miss you so much!

Love Jessie


Wedding Bells



This Saturday the whole family, including Megan as the flower girl, attended a dear friend’s wedding. When we arrived at the venue we were seated outside in a circular courtyard surrounded by columns. The weather was perfect for an outdoor ceremony and the marriage itself (although in Chinese) was splendid. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed watching (and photographing) this beautiful wedding!

While there Jessie and I also took the opportunity to snap a few shots of each other.

jessie us2 happy

Above is a little video of the wedding!


Bridal Shower

The week before Susan’s wedding I organized a bridal shower for her.  This is another event that is not typical of a Chinese bride.   Although the recipe for the cake and frosting are both Rachel’s, and tasted great,  I can say that my decorating job is not nearly as pretty as hers.  Luckily Maddie was there with the inspiration to put little icing stars on the heart to add some final touches.  Maddie also found these cute printables that we used to decorate.DSC_0087



Susan has worked as the elementary princial’s assistant, so most of the elementary teachers on our team know her well.  We had a great turnout of ladies to bless Susan in her upcoming life with her new husband, Rock (his English name).

Toilet paper brides maid dresses game
Jessie and Maddie made a quick appearance at the shower to help me decorate and take photos.

Tumblr Finds #3

Hey Rachel,

I’ve finally started to notice how few people are in the house these days. I have to admit, it’s a challenge trying to figure out how to live in a house with only five people, conversations are shorter, Decisions are harder to make, and life is a lot quieter! I can’t even begin imagine how my life will be after Jessie leaves for College. Everything is changing way too fast. I feel so excited for you though as you discover your new life in Pittsburgh. I’m constantly praying for you and your time there. I love you so very much!

Tumblrfinds3I know how much you enjoy looking at Tumblr blogs so I decided I’d make this Tumblr Finds for you!  I think this blog is in need of a little inspiration, don’t you?

Sources {one, two, three, four, five)

Megan is Flower Girl for Chinese Wedding

Wedding traditions are different in China than in Western cultures.  Most Chinese weddings are held in a fancy restaurant.  Guests are seated at 10-12 person large round tables with nearly table-sized lazy Susan, in the center are bottles of Coke, Sprite, juice, red wine and baijiu (Chinese alcohol).  Wedding favors like candy and cigarettes are also located at each place setting.   Fireworks are set outside the restaurant just before the bride comes into the banquet hall.   There may be a few words given by a friend or MC, then a tea ceremony with both sets of parents, then a digital photo presentation of the couple’s story, then the bride and groom will begin to make their way around to greet guests at each table.   Servers will begin to bring out very unique Chinese dishes.  Guests will pour baijiu and toast with the couple as they come the the table, then each guest at the table will hand the bride and groom a red envelope with money (this is their gift).  At some point the bride will disappear and change out of her wedding dress into another banquet dress.  Then continue greeting guests until the couple has made their way around to each table.  The bride may change dresses 3, 4 or 5 times during the celebration!

Our friend, whose English name happens to be Susan, got married this past weekend.  She and her husband are believers and wanted a more Christ-centered Western-style wedding ceremony.  A very talented event planner at our school helped to organize a beautiful ceremony in which Megan was the flower girl.    The location was a new “wedding chapel” type place with outdoor courtyards.

The guests were so surprised when the fountains started up forming an archway for Susan to walk down.   DSC_0085
Maddie captured these neat photos with water droplets from the fountains.
Exchanging of rings and vows.

Wedding cupcakes for the guests

Megan and Susan

My Studio

Hey guys,

Below are a few snap-shots of my Freshman studio this year! We were given this space (with 24-hour access) so that, while working on various drawings/models/photography assignments, we have the opportunity to brainstorm, converse, and gain insight from  fellow classmates. Initially, I didn’t think that this was completely necessary. I mean, art is one of those subjective professions right? wrong. Design is so much different than the art-style I was accustomed to in high school. I’ve learned over the past few weeks, that the success of my work depends so much upon the ability to communicate a message to an audience- and in this case my classmates serve as substitute audiences.  IMG_0431


We are often accused of “living” in studio because we all spend so much time there. I don’t mind, though, because not only is our studio spatially relaxing and comfortable, but it is also full of such awesome people, lively music, and homeliness. Studio classes run from 8:30-11:30 here every morning and our professors come to us! That is a pretty big privilege on our part 🙂

I view this place as our “office,” per say, as we come every morning and usually spend most of the day at our desks.  IMG_0421



Happy Birthday Michael!


Dear Michael,
I think a HAPPY BIRTHDAY is in order! Although I’m a little late, I couldn’t miss out on wishing you the best birthday ever, especially since I have Birthday Anxiety Syndrome (to those who don’t know what that means, don’t ask!). Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that you are the best brother I could ever have and I love you! Your love, support, and happy attitude is definitely missed over here in Tianjin.

Love, Maddie

2nd Grade Plant Party

Megan’s class has been studying about plants and how they grow from seed, to stem, to flower to fruit.  At the end of their science unit the class had a plant party at lunch time.  Each student was asked to bring some type of edible plant.  Megan brought broccoli flowerets and grapes.   One mom prepared a unique edible cucumber with cauliflower display.  Here’s Megan with two friends and one of her 2nd grade teachers.

Celebrating Plants

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens


Doesn’t this look like an entrance into the “Secret Garden?” I was walking down this path for the third time yesterday afternoon and was suddenly hit with the urge to show Megan this place. She would love it.

This botanical garden houses over seventeen separate gardens, all pertaining to a specific region or theme. Some of my favorites are the Spice and Tropical Fruits garden, the Fern garden (the moment I stepped into this area, I smelled a wonderful earthy scent, like that of a damp forest), the Desert room (succulents are, of course, my favorite), and the Butterfly garden. The Butterfly photographed in this post. Although I didn’t actually capture any butterflies or moths in any of these photos, I assure you, they were fluttering in every direction.

I can imagine Megan watching the various, brightly colored creatures dance around in this glass room. It is seriously magical.


The project that we are currently working on in Drawing class (the reason I have returned so frequently to Phipps), is essentially a plant adoption. We are to choose our favorite plant and find out everything we can about it: photograph, draw, and research. We are supposed to know this plant from the inside out. I chose the “Philodendron” from Brazil (tree pictured below). I love the texture and pattern of its trunk, and the branches are  intertwined creating a very interesting structure.


The drawing below is a synopsis of five different gardens within Phipps. We were to pick one plant from each garden and use it to represent the whole. I learned so much about simplifying my work throughout this process. Every assignment that we’ve completed so far has brought me great leaps farther in my knowledge of “design drawing.” It is such a privilege to study here, under such brilliant professors. 




I admit that this process is often extremely aggravating. Drawing isn’t a personal hobby or “enjoyable activity” for me (as you know). However, I’m thankful that I have this unique opportunity to improve and learn. Tell me what you’ve been working on recently!

Miss you guys xo!