Sunday, June 5, 2022

February, March, April and May

I'm still alive. The past four months whizzed by so fast. My memory is pretty bad nowadays. I can barely recall what I did in February and March. What I do remember is it was stressful. My son was waiting to hear back about his internship application and I was imagining all kinds of worst case scenarios. Typical of me. Thankfully he managed to get hired and has now completed one month of internship. 5 more to go! Hubs was also going through his own crisis as well. Thankfully my memory is bad so I can only vaguely remember some of the tension and stress February and March brought me. Oh, I almost forgot. Hubs, daughter and I caught Covid. It wasn't super bad but still we did suffer for 1 week plus. The virus attacked our throats mostly. I felt tired and had no desire or energy to do anything. I ate ice cream all day. Of course I put on weight but it's covid weight gain so let's close one eye.

Remember I said I was going to work more on my scrap fabric turning them into applique art and my goal was 24 pieces of textile art in 2022? I stopped at no.7. It's already June. There's no way I'll make 24 this year. But I'll still keep going. I'm currently working on no.8 and it's a big piece so it's taking a long time to complete. The first piece - bird drink water - I really love and would like to make more of. The second one - a crazy patchwork embroidered zip pouch was made from a UFO, a remnant from my previous life. 

Since March last year I've stopped colouring my hair. As you know, I've been struggling with my grey hair for many years. Each time I stopped colouring my hair, I would immediately run to my hair stylist if one person calls me a senior citizen. Remember I bravely went grey when I went to Bintan with hubs and our taxi driver thought I was his mother? I almost died. So I was caught between wanting to look younger and getting tired of having to touch up my greys so frequently. It's not cheap, takes a long time for each colouring session and I get some reaction after each dye job - my eyes get swollen and my skin itch. Plus the worst part - when the first greys appear on the top of your head and you see one line of white hair - so gross. After many to-and-fro, I finally made the decision not to cover up my greys anymore. Like F O R E V E R. 

Of course the decision did not come easy. I made many consultations with the family until nobody cared anymore. I'll tell you a secret. Last year I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror. 80% of my hair above my forehead is white. When I looked at the mirror, I saw a ghost. This year is better. I'm starting to accept looking old (I'm kidding. I'm never going to accept it.). I think I just got more used to seeing my white hair. Now when I look at the mirror, I no longer see a ghost. Instead I see a homeless woman. I think it's an improvement. Ghost to homeless woman. At least I see a human. I wonder what I'll see in the mirror next year?

Since I've gone grey, I've realised this: a woman's hair does not belong to her alone. It seems everyone who looks at her has a stake. Lots of people have told me to go and colour my hair. They're probably thinking it's so silly to look older than necessary when there's an easy solution, right? But I'm going to be stubborn about this and stick to my decision. And I hope that my MIL will stop colouring her hair so I won't be mistaken as her mom!

One of the reasons it took me so long to stop covering up my greys is I really feared being treated like an old lady by humans. Take this incident. Once I was at a pharmacy and I was queuing up to pay for 2 packets of quinoa. A sales promoter came up to me and offered to help me carry the quinoa. I told her I was fine but she said she felt uncomfortable watching me carrying the 2 packets of quinoa. So she grabbed the quinoa from me and queued along with me until it was my turn at the cashier. It was a nice thing for the woman to do (from her point of view) but I was uncomfortable because she probably did it on account of my grey hair. So grey hair = old lady = incapable of carrying 2 packets of quinoa. You might ask what's so bad about a stranger helping me out? Well, it just confirms what I fear. People associate grey hair with feebleness.

Last year I attended 3 bread making classes. In the first class, when I showed up in class, there were already some people in the class and I looked for an empty seat. We were supposed to sit in a table of threes. Guess what? The 2 persons at the table I sat at promptly got up and sat elsewhere. I ended up sharing the table with 2 latecomers who had no choice but to sit with me. In the second class, I was the last person to arrive in the class so the teacher assigned me a seat so no one could flee from me. In the third class, I did not arrive late but most people had already arrived. I sat at an empty table by myself. Soon a lady arrived and she sat at my table. Then suddenly she got up and joined another table without a word to me. Later a latecomer came and she too sat at my table. Again, she quietly got up and joined another table. I ended up sitting alone until a guy whom nobody wanted to sit with asked to be my partner. Maybe you think I'm too sensitive but I really felt like nobody wanted to sit with me because I looked old and useless. My course mates probably thought I would be a liability. It was no fun feeling unpopular. On the positive side, it is easier to get seats on the train. During peak hours though, it's every man/woman for herself. I've had my seats snatched away by younger people who avoided eye contact with me. 

Alright, enough about my hair. I know you're sick of it already. From April to May, I was super busy because I signed up for 3 garment drafting and construction classes. When I was young, fresh out of school, I had already gone through similar drafting and dressmaking classes. The thing with drafting and making garments is if you don't put it into practice, you forget nearly everything. 

Each class was only 5 days long from 9am to 6pm but it was so exhausting. Some days, I thought I was going to pass out. On the last day of each class we had an assessment which was pretty easy. The difficult part of the class is to make the garment according to specifications and on schedule. 

Despite my years of experience in sewing, it wasn't a piece of cake for me. I struggled. My first struggle - sewing in metric. I've been sewing in inches for 2 decades. To switch to metric was so mind-blowing. My second struggle - following the teacher's method of construction. I realised I'm not a visual learner. The teacher would do a demo and there's a video of the demo but when I go to my table, if the steps are unfamiliar, I can't figure out what I'm supposed to do. For me, I need instructions to be given in precise language or I'm lost. My third struggle - sewing to a deadline. At home, I take my time sewing between cooking and watching k-drama. One blouse could take me 1 month to complete. At the sewing school, it's go, go, go. You need to keep up with everyone else or you're left behind. The last struggle - using an industrial sewing machine. Actually I got used to the sewing machine quickly and I love how an industrial sewing machine sews so powerfully but I occasionally struggled when another student (from a night class or weekend class) messes with the tension and I have to fix it.

The first class was super easy because it's just a sleeveless blouse and skirt with facing. The blouse pattern was drafted using a slash and spread method. The neckline and armhole were finished using bias tape. The skirt had facing and invisible zip at the back. My skirt was a bit loose. I think it had too much ease. I wished the teacher had asked us to make pockets because a skirt without pockets is unwearable. 

I had a little accident at home on the day when I was on a one-day break from my first class. I had just reached home after a swim and I walked into my bed. The bed frame went between my 4th and last toe. The pain was unbearable. My left foot swelled up and I couldn't walk properly. It turned out I had fractured my 4th toe. I saw a GP who asked me to wrap my injured toe with a good toe with plaster. But it made it worse so I stopped doing it. Later I saw an ortho doctor who said I shouldn't wrap my injured toe at all. In fact he said he couldn't do anything for me except prescribe painkillers. But since I can't take strong painkillers due to my kidney issue, I could only take panadol and tough out the pain. The fracture will heal on its own. I only need to not walk into anything for at least a few weeks. The first 2 weeks were really miserable for me. I discovered that you need your toes to walk and balance. I've been taking my toes for granted all these years. I couldn't walk on my wet bathroom floor so hubs bought 2 bathroom mats which helped a lot. I had to depend on my family to buy stuff for me. The dependence wasn't nice. Plus, I had 2 more days of my first sewing class to complete. I don't know how I did it but somehow I managed to hobble my way to school and complete my module. Right now the swelling has completely gone down. I've been exercising my toes daily but it still doesn't feel like before. My doctor says I can't swim or run until he says so. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that my "personal physiotherapist" quit in March so I was physiotherapist-less as the clinic couldn't get a replacement. The ortho doctor referred me to a physiotherapist at the hospital. I've gone once and the service is different. It's mostly advice and exercise related. None of the "pampering" that my previous physiotherapist provided.  

By the way, it's totally hub's fault that I walked into the bed. Years ago, he had insisted on moving a sofa in front of our bed. Our bedroom is super tiny so there's very little room to walk around. Lately he kept kicking the sofa out of position and as a result the feng shui went haywire. About 2 months before, he had walked into the same part of the bed and bruised his toes. Of course his bones are super strong so he had no problems. Back then I had told him to stop moving the sofa out of position but he kept doing it and that's how I got a fractured toe. I really should go and pull out all his hair. Anyway, I have stuck some bubble wrap on the dangerous part of my bed and hopefully it works. Hubs said the positive thing that came out of my injury is that the doctor discovered I have porous bones. Isn't he the ever-positive guy? I have a bone mineral densitometry scan scheduled in October. (there's a long wait list) Meanwhile I have to take calcium supplements. Why is aging so hard?

The second sewing class was hard. Shirt and pants. You need precision when you sew the collar stand, cuffs, zip fly and waist band. I found the teacher's instructions very hard to understand. I kept questioning my own intelligence. In the end, I think I don't suit the teacher's style of teaching. Somehow I managed to cough up the shirt and pants. The pants fit but isn't very comfortable to sit in because it's a natural waisted pants while I'm used to a low waisted pants. (I have a tummy) The shirt turned out great!!! I will make one for my daughter. We had to stay in school overtime twice. I felt so tired and sleepy I wanted to cry. 

The last class was a princess seam dress. The teacher was very patient so it was a good experience. First we had to sew a dress bodice using calico fabric. Then we had to make alterations if any to the pattern. After that, we modified the pattern into a princess seam pattern. The drafting took a lot of time. The final dress had 9 pattern pieces. I didn't do the neckline well so I'll probably try to make another dress. The dress is fully lined and has an invisible zip closure.  

Overall I enjoyed the sewing classes. I've gained a lot of confidence in drafting and sewing garments. Believe it or not, I may sign up for a couple more classes!

By the way, my daughter has graduated. She's already gone for her "grad trip" to Australia and will start work next week. Both my kids work in the same industrial area and will probably go to work together. So cute! I'd better hurry up and make more blouses and skirts for her to wear to work.

Friday, February 11, 2022

January 2022


It's now the Year of the Tiger (Feb 1st 2022 to Jan 31st 2023). How has your Tiger year been?

I think I'm starting the year well. Firstly, right after Chinese New Year, I went to the dentist. Yes, voluntarily. Thanks to the pandemic I haven't visited the dentist for the past 2 years. Yikes! TMI? This year, I decided I wasn't going to live my life constantly fearful of Covid. Not that I intend to live carelessly. But it's been 2 years and I shouldn't avoid doing necessary stuff that requires me to be unmasked like getting my teeth cleaned and checked out. Just to be on the safe side, I opted for an xray as well. Thankfully, I do not have any tooth decay. I was so grateful I almost cried. 

Another thing I did was get my blood test done. My doctor sneakily scheduled my appointment for after Chinese New Year to catch any pigging out. I'll get my results soon and it'll be clear if I ate rubbish. <I did, a bit. Okay, a lot.>

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, our Chinese New Year was very quiet. My mother who's 93 decided to be super safe and cancelled Chinese New Year. My family stayed home and played mahjong. On the second day of Chinese New Year, we went swimming. We didn't even buy mandarin oranges this year. Hubs, son and I are quite reclusive so a quiet CNY is no big deal but my daughter is the complete opposite of us and ranted about the lack of visiting and traditions in our family. So I think maybe this year, I'll try and do better as a mother and start celebrating all the festivals. I'll google them later. 

It seems the current strain of Covid-19 going around now is very infectious. Our cases keep going up but I'm numb to it now. Our death rate isn't high so that's a good thing. Life in Singapore is still pretty restrictive. Everywhere we go, we have to check in, check out with our Trace Together app. Eating out and visitors is kept at 5 people. And of course, outside our homes, we need to wear masks. Our lives have gone on. And honestly we can go on this way indefinitely. But I really look forward to the day when our government stop testing for Covid-19 and remove all restrictions. Will it happen this year? I doubt it but one can only hope.

Do you guys suffer from stress? I'm constantly putting myself in situations where I end up worrying incessantly. It's killing my stomach and worsening my gastric. I wish humans have a button to allow a  do-over. I'd like to rewire my brain so that I don't keep doing stupid shit like over think and worry about the wrong things. I feel like I'm trapped in this endless overthinking/worrying cycle. This year, I'd like to try worrying about the right things. Any tips? 

Creatively, I thought I was on a roll. I wasn't. I have a goal this year of making textile art using scrap fabric and I have so many ideas. Too many actually. As a result, some of  my creations weren't executed the way I had pictured in my head. 

Scrap fabric project no. 1 - this is a cheat really as it's very small and involved only a few pieces of scrap. But I like the overall effect. I would love to do this same thing on a bigger piece but hand sewing is very hard on the hands. I'm going to be kind to my hands and not do it.

Scrap fabric project no. 2. I do like the aesthetic of this apple as it's closest to how I picture applique in my head. But it's unfinished, still waiting for the rest of the alphabets.

Scrap fabric project no. 3. It started with what I thought was a great idea. Marimekko inspired flowers. Yikes. So poorly executed. I must never look at this piece again. Shudder. Vomit.

Scrap fabric project no. 4. This quilt was such a struggle. I wanted to give up and throw it in the bin many times and maybe I should have. It started with bad batting. Too thick and heavy. I wanted to machine quilt but it didn't work out so I ended up hand quilting. Very bad idea. My fingers hurt! I don't even like the end result. 

Scrap fabric project no. 5 was just for fun. I turned a drawing my daughter drew of her dad when she was little into an applique piece. I think her Dad must have done something really uncool to have prompted her drawing and defense.

That's it for January. Adios. (a favourite word I use to start wordle) 

p.s. have you played it's like wordle with other players and a race against time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

September to December 2021

Hello people,

I didn't realise I've been gone so long. But aren't you glad 2021 is almost over? What a dreadful year it's been. And we all thought 2020 was bad. Hahaha. I'm really looking forward to 2022 (just to get out of 2021) even though next year is the Year of the Tiger which is traditionally not a lucky year but I don't believe in horoscope so there!

Anyhoos, in Singapore we never managed to transition to endemic because Omicron made its appearance and refused to leave. Our social gathering/household visitors/dining out is still capped at 5 people which is fine for my family because we're such loners but for others, it must be a torture. (how to partay with 5 people?)

2021 has been super bad for our health. Hubs and I - we've now become people who have to take pills every day. For me, my protein in urine thing turned out positive consistently so my doctor said better check on my cholesterol as well. I was rather confident the results would be good because in a previous test<ahem>, the doctor said it had improved. I was wrong. My cholesterol had become alarmingly bad. I thought about it and I realised that I had been indulging in far too many Chinese pastries and tarts and upon some research, I discovered they contain trans fat. As a result of my greed, I now have to take 2 pills daily - one for cholesterol and one for the urine. I was determined to lower my cholesterol and I immediately cut out ALL pastries and tarts. In my next blood test, the doctor said my results were exceptionally good. I was so pleased with myself! But I have to continue with the medication for now but if my cholesterol remains exceptionally good in February, I may get off it. The urine meds I'm afraid I have to take for life. It's either that or lose a kidney.

Compared to me, hubs had it way, way worse. Firstly, his gout on his foot refused to stop hurting. It would get better and then return and repeat. Then it spread to his wrist. That was frightening. His company doctor was a blood sucker who only wanted to squeeze as much money as he could out of hubs. We kept asking for a long term treatment plan but it was always the same answer, next time, wait, wait. And the fees were so expensive. We really felt like suckers. Finally one day hubs made up his mind he didn't want to be treated by the con-doctor anymore. I was happy about that but also really worried because without long term treatment, the gout could return easily. Luckily I was able to persuade hubs to see a doctor at the clinic I go to. And it is so much cheaper. No nonsense treatment and no unnecessary tests. Hubs has more meds to take daily - uric acid control, cholesterol and high blood pressure. So I win.

Food became a big headache because a gout diet is an impossible diet - you can't eat so many things. At first hubs ate a lot of plant based meat and avoided real meat and seafood. After much suffering and a talk with a dietician, we realised that plant based meat are highly processed and bad for cholesterol as well. So now hubs decided to eat a little chicken, a little fish but to avoid all other meat and seafood especially sardines and anchovies. 

My frozen shoulder has improved a lot. I can now do nearly everything with my left arm. I can wear my bra myself although I do need my right hand to help out when the bra line is high. I no longer feel pain and the best thing is I'm able to swim. At first I started swimming with a float. Then I tried without a float (breast stroke) and I could do it. I try to go swimming once a week as my muscles are still weak. I don't know how much longer it will take to get my shoulder at 100% again. There are 2 movements which my arm is still quite weak at. Hubs has asked me when I'll stop my physiotherapy because it is rather costly. I'm very reluctant to quit. I feel a bit like a freak because my left arm can't rotate as well as my right arm. But realistically, I've spent enough $ already and maybe I should let nature do its healing. I'm (fake) sobbing as I write this because I really don't want to give up physiotherapy yet.

Both my kids finished their fall semester successfully. I'm very thankful. My daughter had it really tough. A very difficult year for her. But she made it through. One last semester to go. The good news is she managed to get a job before graduation. I'm so proud of her. 

Okay, enough about my personal life. I made a few pieces of tops for my daughter but based on her review, it's unlikely she'll wear them.

First I made a shirt. A real shirt with collar and sleeves and buttons and cuffs. It was hard but I managed to get the fit right. This shirt was the muslin in case you're wondering why I choose such a colourful fabric.  I couldn't believe it but I got the fit right at first try. I made a "mistake" with the buttonholes. I thought it was odd that the buttonholes turned out a bit too long for my liking. After sewing ALL the buttonholes, I decided to read the sewing machine manual and guess what? There is an option to sew a customised length. I'm an idiot.

Then I sewed a T-shirt. I used the Basic Instinct T-shirt pattern here. You need to subscribe to the newsletter to get the pattern. What I like about this pattern is the sleeves FIT the arm hole. On many patterns, they never fit but this one does. What I don't like about this pattern is the neckline is too high. But you can fix that easily. Mine is slightly lowered. The design is quite boyish. All the seams are serged and the hems are twin-needled. 

There was a time when I would buy remnants from Spotlight. This moustache jersey fabric was one of those remnants I had bought and regretted because there's too little of it. I finally used it to make a muscle tee. Pattern is by Fancy Tiger Crafts. It's an easy sew very much like a T-shirt. Serged every seam, twin-needled every hem. Instead of sleeves, bindings are used which is perfect for this fabric because I didn't have enough to make sleeves.

I made a few embroidered brooches. I don't need more brooches but I was going through a period when I felt very nervous about something and I needed to keep myself occupied. 

I found a pig I had appliqued on a piece of calico a long time ago and decided to do something with it and use up some of my scrap fabric. I regretted the brown fabric and the binding. Otherwise I rather like this piece even though it didn't use much scrap fabric.

I attended 2 baking classes on my list. The first one I attended was Artisan and Decorative Bread. It's an advanced class and was rather challenging as most of the dough was very wet. I was quite disappointed we only made one loaf of sourdough. And literally nothing was taught about sourdough. It was just a levain you add to your dough instead of yeast. On Day 1 I had this teacher whom I knew from way back when I did cake classes. He speaks with a heavy accent and is super hot tempered. But he knows his stuff. One thing I learnt from him is this. My window pane stage which I've always thought was correct has always been wrong. He pointed to a part of the dough and said you see that? Mix some more. And true enough, The window pane he wanted was a much clearer membrane. From day 2, we had another teacher, also with heavy accent. I didn't have as much confidence in the second teacher. But I managed to make the required bread even if they were kinda ugly. The class was small - only 7 girls. I had a nice time baking with the girls.

The second class I attended was Cafe Bread. It's an intermediate class and covers wholemeal flour, rye flour and inclusions like fruits, nuts and bean paste. On Day 1 we had a teacher who thankfully didn't speak with an accent. I think he's good at baking but he didn't share much with us. One thing I leant from him is dough temperature is very important. I usually disregard dough temperature when I bake but now I'll take care to always use cold water because Singapore weather is hot. From day 2, we had another teacher who is an ASS. The worse thing is, he's a passive aggressive ASS. OMG, I couldn't wait for the class to end because it was so unbearable listening to his random rants, idiotic jokes and nonsense. So much nonsense came out of his mouth. And the class was dragged over 4 Fridays so the torture was prolonged. What did I learn from him? Absolutely nothing. He is a "throw everything into the machine and mix" kind of baker. The class was bigger - 12 of us. I didn't enjoy this class at all. 

There's just one more bread class I want to attend - a dedicated sourdough class. I've looked around and there are a few. They aren't government funded like the ones I've just taken so I have to be mindful of the cost. (they don't come cheap) I hope to get a place next year and improve on my sourdough baking. 

Next year I also intend to dedicate more time to use my fabric scrap. I seem to have increased my fabric scrap over the past two years. My goal is to finish 2 pieces of something made from my scraps every month. If I make 2 per month, I should have 24 by December next year. I look forward to that. 
Lastly I shall leave you with this story. I have super sensitive skin which when triggered will result in incredible itch and when that happens, I go insane. To avoid that I apply this Bioderma cream on my face. I always have a tube of this cream wherever I go. I never take chances. The cream is not cheap so I try to squeeze every little drop out of it. One day I was on the train when I felt my jawline itching. I immediately reached for my Bioderma cream and it was a tube that had very little cream left. I banged the top of the tube on my hand several times before opening it and guess what? There was an explosion of cream everywhere. Did I mention I was on the train, sitting down with other strangers? Fortunately most of the cream had landed on my bag and the floor. Then I noticed there was a giant white glob on the thigh of the girl sitting next to me. And she was wearing black tights. The glob of cream was huge. Most people would inform the stranger what had happened, offer an apology and quickly exit the train. But I'm not most people. I did the unthinkable. I reached out and proceeded to use my finger to rub the glob of cream into the girl's tights hoping it would disappear. Now, it never occurred to me if the girl had noticed the cream on her thigh. Because suddenly a total stranger was fingering her thigh. She gave me a strange look and tried to see what the hell I was doing. Thankfully at this point, I realised I could be arrested so I stopped rubbing her thigh and apologised. Then I tried to explain about the exploding cream. I showed her the Bioderma tube and used my hands to mimic an explostion. I'm so lucky the girl was very forgiving. She gestured to me it was alright. Either that or she didn't want to bother with this crazy lady anymore.

See you next year.
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