Sunday, January 29, 2012

last week

This is a tree under which I take shelter every weekday while waiting for my bus. It is a sea fig (Ficus Superba), one of 183 Heritage Trees protected under the Heritage Tree Scheme. It is an old tree, dating back to pre-war days. I could take this photo because for once, the bus stop was deserted.

This week for Clean a Corner, I tackled the bathroom sink that I share with my daughter. She tackled the sofa and table in her bedroom. Good job, girl! The mechanics were coming to service our air-conditioners and we felt obliged to tidy up before they arrived.

My sister bought this festive platter of sushi from Sakae Sushi for dinner at my parents' house on the first day of Chinese New Year. Instead of visiting each other at Chinese New Year, my siblings and I meet up for dinner at my parents' house.

On the second day of Chinese New Year, we went for a movie and tried fries with Gusto Garlic sauce from Best Fries Forever for the first time. It's certainly not going to be my last :)

On Friday night after dinner, we stopped by at Udders for Snickers Mars honeycomb vanilla and Chocolatey Kit Kat. 

Yesterday, on the way to buy tar-pow (takeaway) chicken rice, I stopped to take a photo of this re-furbished row of old shophouses that has been converted into a boutique hotel. I wish I had taken a better photo so that you can see the carvings. I can't remember exactly, but they were either lions or dragons. These shophouses are in Joo Chiat, which is a national heritage conservation area (Secondary Settlements) and to protect their architectural style, the buildings are required to be restored according to conservation guidelines and cannot be demolished or altered without permission. 

I like the floor tiles in the five foot way in front of the conserved building. In the bottom corner you can see my shoes. They were on sale and I couldn't resist the bows. If I can't wear cute clothes anymore at my age, at least I can wear cute shoes!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

style links

I have 3 style links for you today. The first is this article, Secrets of French Girls by Ellen Wallace, about classic and timeless French style. Some of the tips I took note of are

  • to understand my own body shape and know my own figure (which has changed in recent years), 
  • to dress to please myself (yeah!),
  • to find my own style (which needs to evolve as I get older). I am approaching mid-century this year and these tips seem very sensible and practical to me as I try to ease into dressing for the more mature me. 
  • Another tip from the article that I gladly noted was that basic colours like black, white, navy, burgundy and beige are the foundation of an outfit. I already wear a lot of black and grey for work because it is a no-brainer in my early morning rush to get dressed and I always feel more pulled together in black. I will continue to build my wardrobe around these basic colours.
The second link is 40plus style. Sylvia writes about "style ideas, how to dress and beauty information for women over 40". Fashion magazines and style websites cater mostly to the young, and there isn't much that I can find for women my age, so I was glad to stumble on her website, which is such a treasure trove of information. The feature I like best are her outfit posts, and I am especially pleased that she lives right here on my sunny little island, therefore many of her outfits are suitable for my tropical weather. My fave among all her outfit posts is this black and white outfit that she wore. It's so simple and yet stylish enough for work for me and best of all, I was inspired to put together a similar outfit from things I already have in my wardrobe.

The last link is to a beautiful food blog called my french kitchen, written by an artist. Her recipe cards are illustrated with her beautiful artwork. You may wonder what a French cooking blog has to do with style? Her latest post has the most humorous take on bathing suit style for the middle aged woman. You have to scroll all the way down to read it. It's priceless! I can identify with everything that's written there!! By the way, her mango salad sounds like a yummy idea for my lunch box, after all, it is a well known fact that French women eat well and yet stay slim!

Hope you will enjoy the links!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

lunch box update

By week 2 of bringing lunch to work, the novelty of eating the same pre-packaged salad leaves had worn off. Plus, the pre-packaged salad leaves seem over-priced to me. It was time to explore other lunch box ideas. 

Thinking outside the box, I decided to start with foods I like and build my lunch around that. I thought of  Kimchi and made rice, macaroni and kimchi salad. Perfect.

At the supermarket I was looking for a cheaper alternative to pre-packaged salad leaves. I found a small cabbage for 80cents. Why didn't I think of that? Japanese meals are often accompanied by shredded cabbage, which I like. So I had shredded cabbage and tomatoes (under the ham and sausage) with kimchi and crunchy seedless grapes. Packing kimchi in the little airtight boxes was a sensible option because it has a very strong smell! The only problem with cabbage is that it is, how do I put this delicately, err ... gassy? 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Xin Nian Kuai Le

Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!

Monday, January 16, 2012

cheap and quick fix

My daughter has a pair of shorts that is a bit too short and she asked me help refashion it like this pair of shorts.

I unpicked the hem, and let it down by 2 cm. That was all I could do since the hem allowance was very small. Then I sewed on some ecru cotton lace trim by hand. The lace trim is from Daiso, 1.5m for S$2. Now the shorts is 3 cm longer. 

There was just enough lace trim left for me to hand sew them to the back pockets as well. This re-fashion took 2 nights. One night to unpick the hem and another night to sew the trim. I love cheap and quick fixes for clothes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

sew 2012

Lucky me! I won a giveaway at Lyn's blog for her Love quilt pattern - her own design. Thanks, Lyn for such a generous giveaway! If you click on the link you can see her finished Love quilt. I'm going to give this quilt a try. I like how it can be done, one block at a time, at leisure, no rush (that really appeals to me). It's designed to be done over 10 months. Plus it has embroidered squares. I haven't embroidered in ages and was looking for a way to get started, so this is the perfect project for me to do a bit of embroidery. And best of all are the Love quotes in the embroidery squares. I'm going to read  the instructions carefully and then think about colours and fabric. It's going to be a fun learning experience. By the way, can you see that pretty card in the photo below? It comes with the recipe for that yummy looking cupcake. Isn't that a brilliant idea for a card?

I also received Grand Revivals Design's Practical Bag pattern, compliments of Tanya for sharing the Amazon link to her book "Sew What You Love" on  my Facebook. Thanks Tanya, for the pattern! 

Looks like I am all set for my 2012 "sew something every month"!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Clean a corner a week 1

I decided to tackle my table first. This is my table in our family room where we spend most of our time at home. I am the Queen of clutter. What you can't see is that there is more stuff behind my notebook screen. Can you see that box overflowing with skeins of leftover yarn on the right? 

It is a small space but it took more than 10 minutes because once I got started, I roped my son in to clear his table too. He had to clear out last year's school books. Which meant that he had to sort out what to throw and what to keep. Then we had to find a space on the bookshelves to keep last year's books that he wants to keep. Which meant that I had to clear out a shelf of old stuff - worksheets from kindergarten days. Reminisced over lots of old things like cards and notes from teachers. Kept a lot of stuff for sentimental reasons. The whole thing took 2 hours and resulted in 2 garbage bags full of stuff to throw out. But it was worth it. It feels good to start the year with space at our tables.

My table, above and my son's table, below. Do you think it counts as 2 corners so I am done with the corner for week 2 as well? :) :) Plus, we've already kept the Christmas tree, ornaments and lights. One year we had the tree up way past Chinese New Year, so it looks like 2012 is off to an unusually good start.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

miss those lazy December days

This week the kids went back to school, which means waking up at 6 plus am and having to make sure they have clean, ironed uniforms the night before. I miss the lazy December days where we slept late, and did nothing much at home. Lazy days = no cooking. Making pizzas with wraps doesn't count as cooking. Don't be fooled by my pics, I did not make pizza dough from scratch. I bought Gardenia wraps, mozarella cheese, tomato paste, bacon and capsicum. The kids assembled them into this:

put it into the oven and it turned into this:

Confession: our family of four ate up all the 5 wraps, the can of tomato paste, the entire 250g (shudder) package of cheese, the packet of bacon (at least it was back bacon and not streaky bacon) and the capsicum (the only no-fat part of this meal!!) Oh and also 5 eggs! We broke and spread an egg on top of each pizza before putting it into the oven. My kids were rather doubtful when I suggested adding the egg because it sounded like a strange thing for a pizza, but after they tried it, they liked it. Having an egg on top of my pizza brought me right back to my university days when my husband (then boyfriend) and I ate a lot of Pizza Supremes at Milano's. It's the only pizza I know that had eggs on top. Sadly, Milano's has closed down a long time ago. It was a Singapore owned pizza chain but it couldn't compete with the bigger pizza chains. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

In 2012

In 2012, I will
  • Drink more water
    • I tend to forget to drink water during the day and tend to drink only at meal times. So I need to remind myself to drink more water in between. I brought a water kettle to my office so that I can make hot green tea.
  • Have more healthy lunches at work
    • The lunches available at my office canteen are not very healthy choices.  I want to bring salads and sandwiches to work, as much as I can. To do so successfully, I have to plan and prepare the night before AND remember to take it out of the fridge and bring it to work the next morning! This is my first lunchbox for 2012: romaine lettuce, tomatoes, laughing cow cheese and creamy Japanese sesame dressing in the little plastic box. I also had an apple, not pictured.
  • Clean a drawer a week
    • It could be a drawer or a corner. This brilliant idea is borrowed from Beth at felt like knitting. When I clean, it's usually vacuuming and mopping. By the time I'm done, I am exhausted and not motivated to do much else. But taking 10 minutes on another day to tackle a small task like a drawer is very do-able. At the end of the year, my house should be more organised, no? haha, my inner self is in doubt because in my mind I'm already thinking that this is the hardest thing to do on my list :)
  • Continue to knit up my yarn stash
    • I have been knitting from the stash for 2-3 years now and will continue to do so this year. I started a project on 2 jan with stash yarn. Will tell you about it later when it gets more interesting. Right now, it's just a blue rectangle of stockinette.
  • Sew an item a month
    • This is part of my goal to start sewing up my fabric stash. 
  • crochet block a month CAL
    • I joined the crochet block a month CAL on Ravelry. It seems do-able, even in the busiest times, to crochet one block a month. I'm still thinking of a theme, colours, yarn or something so that I can seam up the blocks into something useful at the end.
By the way, do you have pinterest? You can find me here. I really like how it can be used to organise pictures, tutorials, websites etc. I do however, have a question. Do you know what is the proper etiquette for pinning an item from a website or blog? Should I ask the website owner or blogger for permission first, or is it acceptable to just pin it? 

Monday, January 02, 2012

First FO for 2012

It feels good to start 2012 with an FO! This is the lace trim bolero from Vogue Knitting spring summer 2005. I was too lazy to knit the lace edging and then sew it on. So I knitted the lace edging along the edge of the bolero following these instructions. It's a neat way of attaching the edging by knitting into a stitch on the bolero and slipping the stitch over.

Even so, I had to re-knit several times because I couldn't decide how close to space the edging. In the end, I settled for skipping every other row / stitch. I don't like this bolero. It is too bulky. The fabric is thicker than what I would have liked. I steam ironed it to death in an attempt to flatten it as much as possible.

Pattern: VK spring summer 2005 lace trim bolero
Yarn: Palermo cotton from Stahl sche Wolle
Needle: 3.75 mm

I've had this yarn for more than 10 years. Each time I tried to knit or crochet with it, it never looked right. I think it's because the yarn knits up too thick. But I am still glad to have completed it. It was a satisfying stash buster.