Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DIY ribbon loom

Make do, or make over. 

I remember reading an article describing that was how people used to live. And though the options were a lot more limited, they still managed to have a good time.

When I tried googling for the term, I came across 'Make Do and Mend' instead. The slogan was used during World War II to encourage British citizens to gather scraps and contribute all that they could find to aid the war effort, like metal pots and pans and even railings (info from this BBC webpage here)

In that vein, I was delightfully inspired by Poppytalk's post on a DIY ribbon loom

Because, you know, hoarder that I am, there was a loom from my childhood sitting in my cupboard! It was bought for $2.90 at MPH a few decades ago. I will have to ask around to find out if any of my aunts bought it for me.

So I dug the loom out, and rummaged in my bag of ribbon scraps to fund a ribbon of suitable length. I used an LV ribbon that I've also had for a long time.

Here are some photos of how things turned out.

Stretched out on the flower loom

Instructions on the back of the box

The finished flower

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Arteastiq & my DIY art

Here are some photos from a visit to Arteastiq, a tea lounge and art jam hosting venue at Mandarin Gallery, Orchard Road. I was there last December with a group of colleagues.

It's a pretty place, with a good view of leafy trees.

But that day, I was there not for tea but to make my own piece of art.

Starting with a blank canvas...

I selected paint colors...

And created my own piece of art that now sits on my bedside table.
Well, it's no Van Gogh, but I'd like to think it's a cross between some of my favorite artists/periods: Mark Rothko and the Impressionists (Paul Signac)

Oh and the funny thing is, it's easier than it looks to do what other bloggers have done:
Specifically, Elise's finger painting or big script art.
I also referenced Oh Happy Day's abstract art or potato prints.

It was kind of fun for a day out.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Ode to the West Wing

This is my somewhat nerdy post which I'm going ahead to air anyway.

Just finished (finally!) watching probably my favorite tv series ever, so far...The West Wing.

From the very first episode, I was mesmerized by characters striding through corridors, tossing quick-fire dialogue with intensity.

LOVE the opening score, the soaring music...

Sure, they meandered through not a few episodes. I was somewhat bored in the middle of the series.

And what would caucasus and lame duck congresses, congressional hearings and filibusters have to do with a girl from a completely different hemisphere, anyhow?

Yet, as I followed the ebbs and flows, triumphs and failures, the struggles and the mis-steps through the years, the show resonated with me through its echoes of my own challenges at work, being thrown into the deep end.  Just as the characters bounced back (always with that soaring music in the background, sometimes a little wistful), it felt kind of like no matter what happened, looking back, the struggles would become significant moments.

My favorite moments? All the feel-good ones like...

The stackhouse filibuster
Kristen Chenoweth coming on board
CJ & Danny's goldfish moments
The hiring of Charlie
I was bummed that Sam left...but happy that he came back in the last season
POTUS walking up the hill with Josh in a dramatic turn-around of events
Block of cheese days...
POTUS' father-son moments with Charlie
And the ending was so satisfying. Donna really came into her own!
Just to state a few.

It was an awesome cast: POTUS, Leo, Sam, Josh, Donna, CJ (you know, I can never watch her in a movie without going "CJ!!!"), Toby, Joey, Charlie et al.

And when I tuned into the Obama inauguration in 2009, I half expected Toby & Josh to pop up.

Thank you, west wing.  I had a great time watching. 

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
and treat them both the same... - Kipling

(p.s. This post was written last December. Recently, I took a look at the posts in my draft folder and will be doing some spring cleaning, which is why some posts are appearing very belatedly :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Apple Crumble

I think of this as a 3 step process.

ONE.  Cook the Apple filling in a pot (Or skip the cooking. Just combine, cover with crumble, and bake for firmer apple filling)

Green Apples, 3-4, skinned & cubed
Cinnamon, slightly less than 1/2 tsp
Salt, a pinch
Plain flour, 3/4 tbsp
Raisins, 1/2 cup, and you could soak them in water a little beforehand
Brown sugar, 1/8 cup

TWO.  Combine the crumble in a bowl. I like this part.

Brown sugar, 1/2 cup
Plain flour, 1 cup
Butter, firm, 1/2 block, chopped into cubes
Digestive biscuits (I usually use McVities), about 1 cup or 6-7 biscuits.  Put in a clean plastic bag and reduce the biscuits to crumbs.
Combine in a bowl using the rubbing method i.e. use your finger tips to mix the butter with the dry items and try not to melt the butter in the process. You'll want a crumbly mixture at the end of it.

THREE.  Assemble & Bake.

I used these little ramekins, and a glass dish.
Ladle the filling from step 1 into the ramekins/dish (actually I did this right after cooking it)
Distribute the crumble from step 2 in each ramekin/dish, covering the filling below.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 150 degrees for about 15-20 min.

VOILA.  Serve with vanilla ice-cream. Bon Apetite.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I heart my library (and chocolate bread)

I like how well-stocked the libraries are in Singapore.
I was perusing Elise's blog and - being also a little hungry at the time - was quite taken with the idea of making chocolate bread. Ooh. You had me at chocolate.

It took just seconds to check out the NLB's catalogue, which is so useful that it's on my favourites bar.
Surprise, surprise (not!), they have the book.

(p.s. This was composed over a year ago. Recently, I took a look at the posts in my draft folder and will be doing some spring cleaning, which is why some posts are appearing very belatedly :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Retro post - Farmville cake

A couple of years ago, my brother (!!) was into Farmville.

That was the year we made him a Farmville birthday cake. Basically, we printed the animals and other Farmville-esque features, cut them out and stuck them on toothpicks. My mum made a homemade suggee cake with a generous coating of icing on top, and we decorated it with the little cake toppers.

If I remember right, I was inspired by a post over at a beautiful mess, which has been revamped recently and has lots of great ideas. Always something slightly messy, vey DIY and totally pretty.

(p.s. I took a look at the posts in my draft folder and will be doing some spring cleaning, which is why some posts are appearing very belatedly :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Retro post - my desk a long time ago

Brochures, quirky little logos or old-fashioned box covers framed in small IKEA frames which apparently they do not sell any more.

Anne's Wedding Book

This is an easy way to make guest sign-in books or farewell cards or birthday cards if it's meant for groups of people to sign - decorate each page differently. The fun part is seeing which pages people gravitate towards, or who picks which page.

Washi tape works wonders, and so does assorted collections of matching scraps.

Bonus tip: recycle the wedding card. Here, I cut out the bible verse from the wedding invitation and rounded the corner, distressed the edges and added the word 'cherish' and fancy swirl which were run-on embellishments.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mario Party Rocks

How 'bout a simple post today...

...to say just how much I love my extended family.

One of the best-loved retro activities we like to do when the cousins get together is to play old-school mario games on the Nintendo. My cousin has to lug the machine down, dust it, fiddle with the cassette and hope the game plays. We have loads of fun getting competitive over Mario Party. Hee.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How I organized my birthday party

I organized my own birthday party this year. It's been years since I had a birthday party.

I'll admit to having party anxiety. My key reason? Wondering whether it was such a good idea to spend way more money on food, compared to DIY-ing it (or more precisely, getting my mum and grandma to cook). My mum was pretty dubious about the whole affair, but I was determined to do it my way and went ahead anyway. 

As readers might know, my dad is undergoing chemo for cancer at the moment. With mortality staring us in the face, it gets a little more pressing to enjoy life right now. I really don't know if this will be the last birthday that my dad will be here, so I didn't want to have any regrets.

So I jotted 3 things down and kept going with the party even though I worried about it while making plans and confirming details. Namely:
Make it good.
Make memories.
Make it happen. 

Here's the lowdown on the details.

Venue: the Garden Slug, a laid-back little cafe in a sleepy neighborhood on the east coast.

  • Caesar Salad with Multigrain croutons, bacon bits and a touch of citrus zest
  • Platter of German Bratwurst & Herby Chicken Chipolata Sausages. Served with French wholegrain mustard
  • Signature Oven-baked Wasuga Chicken Wings. Served with home-made tomato relish 
  • Slow-Braised Red Wine Beef Stew with Chunky root vegetables
  • Grilled Dory Fish topped with Antipasto, drizzled with a lemon herb sauce
  • Signature Brownie Popsicles (yummy!)
  • Iced Lemon Tea

  • Flowers that I picked up from Cold Storage on the day of the party, and trimmed to size. And these were held by...
  • ...Quirky lab beakers that I discovered in our store-room during the Great Paint Job of 2011
  • Little butterflies made with Martha Stewart butterfly punch
  • A train of paper flags from paper I picked up on sale at Paper Market ($5. Score!)

Family (18 of us) and close friends, slightly over 35 in total. I was so pleased that my whole family in Singapore could make it.

Big surprise:
My cousins sang a song for me! With guitar accompaniment! So sweet.

Totally worthwhile extra:
In what was meant to be a surprise for my family, I hired a professional photographer to take photos of the event. Yong Sak was professional, pleasant and obliging. Usually I'm the one taking photos but having someone else capture the moments & details was great and freed me up to talk to people. Plus I realize I'm not that adventurous when it comes to posing for my own photos, so having someone suggest photo poses was new.

Party favors:
My aunt was so cute - she brought a basket of little sweets that were appreciated by the kids in particular. And my grandma made nonya kueh. Love her.

I enjoyed:
Having my family chip in to help with the set-up and packing-up. 

I realised:
It's important to make the effort to keep relationships going, especially old ones. They're like trees - more beautiful with age.

I am glad:
That my dad was well enough to enjoy himself.
That my guests mingled so nicely.
That it went smoothly.  

Mission accomplished. Thank you God!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cards for my Sunday School kids

I really like how this blog helps me store good moments and reminds me of the creative things I've managed to complete this year. Waaay back when my friend Colin started a blog when they were still a novelty and called weblogs, I wrinkled my nose and wondered aloud, why would anyone want to write about their lives on the web? That just goes to show how right Steve Jobs was about consumers not knowing what they want. And how I'd really not be able to spot the next money-making idea in Silicon Valley.

But I digress.

Recently, I made cards for my Sunday School kids and posted them to their homes. Just to spread the love of Jesus and of snail mail.


Hey Chelle, your scraps came in handy

I like how I used rub-on letters to form the stem. And more scraps from Chelle came in handy! Just doing my part to save the earth.

I think of my style as being very streamlined and clean cut. The boys got cards with dino-themed paper. I made sure to include their name on the card, cos everyone loves their name right? Even if they don't care about getting a note from me, it's still a good decoration for their room or noticeboard or whatever.

The girls got cards with more embellishments. And girly colors.

And of course, a special touch - a star stamped onto the envelope.

Re-use materials, folks! Like this brochure from Crabtree & Evelyn for my test prints.

- The End - 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Personal finance: managing cheques & savings

I happen to like writing cheques, and keeping tabs on my bills, and spending within my means.

A lot of this has to do with my dad, who got me started on accounting for my weekly allowance back when I started school, and took me to open my own POSB savings account when I was young.

Firstly, he always told us that our ang pow money wasn't our own. He took the view that my mum and him paid for everything and that all that we had came from them. He also held strong views about how I wasn't doing household chores for him, but it was for the whole family including myself. But that's another story. So I grew up with what I'd like to think is a healthy appreciation for all that I have.

Dad would scrutinize my weekly records and check that the figures tallied. I'll admit that some weeks when they didn't, I would make up the figures. Missing ten cents? Oops, add it to the Tuesday lunch money...

But the IMPORTANT thing is, I learnt to keep track of my finances and to spend prudently.

At the same time, dad helped me to save money in my account once I had a healthy surplus of $20 or so. This was kind of fun to work towards, and it incentivised me to save.

And so, this is my personal sharing on why it is that I totally enjoy managing my cheque book today!

Links for an organized space

Elise's reorganized space is an inspiration (and here).

(This post is for Chelle :p)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A walk around Tanglin Halt

You're quite a tourist, said my friend, referring to the fact that I'd been to the Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay, top of MBS, ArtScience Museum...

Yah, I said. I haven't been traveling, what.  I've severely reduced my carbon footprint this year.

I rather like enjoying what's in front of me.

For instance, I like taking photos of old estates. They remind me of the simple neighborhood I grew up in. No fancy district for me; I had such a good time growing up - speeding down HDB stairways without a care in the world, cycling around the blocks, playing catching, hantam bola (and hantam slipper, and hantam ice - ouch).  One time we kids staked out a neighborhood block in the hope of catching a recalcitrant high-rise litterbug who had thrown out lots of tissue paper onto the small patch of grass in front. Great fun.

Photos of Tanglin Halt, just a little walk from Commonwealth MRT.

Love the faded sign, the old-school grilles, and the donald duck kid's ride out front.
Cobbler.'s Waiting for shoes to be done.

Low-rise blocks with a residential/commercial mix.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Random photo day

Hydrangeas from Gardens by the Bay.
Just cause.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Movie: Moneyball

How can anyone not be romantic about baseball? - Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball

Ah, how indeed.

It's been awhile since a movie cracked me up unexpectedly - deadpan looks, comic timing. Jonah Hill nailed the role and so did Brad Pitt.

Of course I was (am) a big fan of The West Wing and it figures that I'd like this show for which, which according to wikipedia, a third of the screenplay was written by Aaron Sorkin.

Photo via wikipedia.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A walk in the clouds (Gardens by the Bay!)

I had a great time this past weekend, checking out the newly-launched Gardens by the Bay with friends.

It was...incredible.

Being at the Gardens is like being:

(a) On a movie set. Specifically, Jurassic Park (or some random alien flick). 

In the Cloud Dome

(b) In a temperate country. Misty walk, anyone? I'd love to be here in the quiet of the early morning.

(c) At the Chelsea Garden Show, which admittedly I've never been to (that's the whole point, right...to bring the world here so I don't have to travel?). I imagine the show looks something like the Flower Field (in the Flower Dome, one of two giant conservatories). Bring out the cameras!

In the Flower Dome

(d) Deep within some jungle, gazing at rarely seen plant species. Below: Pitcher plant.

(e) At the library. Yes, the library. A cool spot to sit, read and think. Plenty of wide, wooden benches beckoning to me to sit and enjoy the day.

Lovely. Go visit!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In Which I Become A Fan

I am officially a fan of the Gardens by the Bay.

Or at least, a proud owner of an annual pass. It's going to be so cool (literally) visiting throughout the year.

More pictures to follow!