Monday, December 22, 2014

Hand Made

I have always liked arts and crafts since young. When I was ten, we had to pick an extra-curricular activity and mine was the arts and crafts club. I remembered making a macrame pot hanger back then. Since then, I've upholstered wooden stools with cow print fur covered foam, made myself a yoga bag for carrying my mat and also recently a handbag from old vintage Japanese obi belt, sewn several placemats, soft toys, beaded dangling things on everything from shirts to bookmarks!

Recently, I've been inspired to make felt phone cases and particularly, superhero phone cases. I've made Batman & Robin and Superman. Then I broke from the mould and couldn't resist an owl. But I think I'll go back to making another Batman and also a Captain America. I need to go buy some more black felt first.
The other item which I have been making a few of is this origami Christmas wreath. Once I got the knack of it, I was really quick if I focused and didn't get distracted by the TV. I was making a wreath in about 16 minutes. I like the 3-dimensional form and it makes such a simple but lovely holiday decoration.

There is something deeply satisfying in making something with your own hands. We connect with the output and feel a sense of achievement, even self-worth. And that is why the hand made movement is making a comeback. People are willing to pay more for something hand made by an artisan. And artisans are willing to make things for sale, even though if you take the time put in, in some cases, the hourly rate is very low. As for me, I will make the things I like for myself and my friends and family. I don't think I will put them up for sale because the hourly rate will not be worth my time, but the ability to give my loved ones something hand made will be priceless.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Current Story of My (Work) Life

Right kids, we have something to tell you. Remember how 6 months ago we said that mummy and daddy love each other and are definitely NOT splitting up? Well, we think it's better for everyone including you kids, if we DID split up. So yeah, we will be splitting up and are now preparing for how to split up, divide up our belongings, properties, even friends... Oh and of course you kids have to decide which parent you want to live with. Obviously as parents, we will make the final decision as to which parent would be more suitable for you to live with, but we will take your preference into account. Yes, we will consider which parent you feel closer to, have more in common with, who you would get along better with going forward. But you will have to choose, we know it's hard and each of the kids will have to make their own decision, independently of the other siblings. So you need to let mummy and daddy know by the weekend so that we can start planning for the holidays and how we are going to be spending it and with whom. OK?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Urge Came Over Me

I have this inexplicable urge in me tonight to buy another piece of art. It's not that I got a raise or a bonus or sold some shares and made a profit. It's not like I had a hard time at work and needed to reward myself. It's just something that crept over me, that I just needed it.

I am not sure what it will be, but I am leaning towards another Ling Yang Chang (the Herons & the Waterlilies on the extreme right) or a Zhu Hong (the Geylang Night Scene, which is second from the right). Or to buy a piece from an artist I have yet to own, like an Anthony Chua Say Hua. Perhaps something small, something which will be easier to find some precious wall space to hang. Or something very big as we do have that whole blank wall in the holiday room.

I am viewing that as my way of contributing to the arts, support the artists.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sweets For My Sweet

Desserts are my Achilles Heel. When I go to a restaurant, I look at the desserts first and then try to work backwards to see what my appetite can accommodate and then figure out if I am going to get a starter and a main and what to order. As such, it was difficult when I found out that I have probably more than 50% chance of getting Type 2 diabetes in some stage of my life, because that meant cutting down on the sweets down and watching what I eat even more.

This amuse bouche that we had during the recent Mother's Day lunch was one of my favourite items that day. The pair was encased in gel filled with a chocolate hazelnut and a raspberry liquid resting on a biscuit respectively. These were the best! So interesting to have them pop in your mouth to fill it with a delicious liquid. 

This was a chocolate dessert, I can't remember much about it because I am not a chocolate fan. (Really? There are people who don't like chocolate? Yes, I get that a lot.) But the presentation was really pretty and the small bit of chocolate I tasted was not overly sweet, the way I like my chocolate (if I had to like chocolate).
Who doesn't like an apple tart? This was an unusual one in its presentation, as with all the dishes on the menu really. This restaurant does strive to put a twist on its items, a fusion of western and Japanese and definitely presented in a way that you least expect.

So with a great love for desserts, what can/should I do? "Everything in moderation" does seem to be a good mantra for everything and especially in this case. But on the other hand, the other important quote that comes to mind is "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first."

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Sunday, May 04, 2014

Your Heart Will Tell You Good Art

Credit: Lotus Series by Singapore artist, Ling Yang Chang from Cape of Good Hope Gallery

How do you tell if a piece of art is good or bad? How do you know if you should buy it? Some of my friends who are interested in art and are contemplating buying art, have asked me this question.

I think you know from your gut or perhaps, more accurately, your heart.

A good piece of art will speak to you. You walk away and come back to it again. If you still have the same buzz or ring in your heart, then this is it. A good piece of art grows on you and you will not tire of looking at it. It says something to you, sometimes you don't have to be able to verbalise what exactly about it that you like. You just do.

I remember learning at my first painting class, an epiphany of sorts that came to me - that art is both science and art. I recall my teacher being rather impressed that a novice student pointed that out to him at a first lesson. Telling if a piece of art is good or bad is a lot like that too. There are technical aspects you can consider - the science part of it. But for the art part of the evaluation, your heart will be able to tell you.

This painting from Ling Yang Chang's Lotus series was one of his first works I encountered by chance one morning of wandering around the art galleries. It definitely spoke to me. Even after 2 months, I think about it. Your heart is never wrong when it's like this.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Quick and Simple Home Improvements

I can think of various cheap and simple ways to enhance a room:-
1. Bunch of flowers from the supermarket
2. New cushion covers
3. Aromatherapy oils or fragrance sticks
4. Framed postcards or pretty calendar pages
5. A cheerful throw blanket over an old sofa

My favourite is to grab a bunch of flowers from the supermarket and arrange them in my collection of vintage pots and vases. I rotate the vessels and see what catches my fancy and what goes best with the type of flowers and colours.

Flowers from the supermarket: $3
Lifting mood of the house and the owner: priceless.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Habitual Baking

When we were living in Sydney, I used to make this orange cake quite often. It was such an easy recipe and I am a lazy baker. Or maybe call me a creature of habit, that's probably a fairer description. I bake what I am used to and rarely try new stuff. Once something new gets on my list, I just repeat it over and over again.

But somehow I stopped making this orange cake once we moved back to Singapore. I think it was out of necessity that I started baking bread and then the whole creature of habit thing took over and I almost exclusively made bread, interspersed with rock buns, another old-time favourite. Occasionally, I would make a quiche for lunch or dinner. And that was it. Oh except for that couple of times I tried my hand at making hot cross buns.

Anyway I decided to revisit this old friend last weekend. But instead of making the cake in a loaf tin which was how I used to make it in Sydney, I used little cupcake moulds. They cook faster this way and were easier for handing out in the office.
I made myself a nice cup of Earl Grey and had one for dessert right after dinner.

They were well-received in the office today. I think I will reinstate this recipe to the "Frequently Baked" list once more.

It's funny how much our personality traits are deeply embedded in different aspects of our life.

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