Friday, January 31, 2014

The Year of the Horse

The Year of the Horse officially begins today on 31st Jan 2014 and ends 18 Feb 2015.

May The Horse Be With You

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Goodbye year of the snake

Hello friends,

Today is the last day of the year of the snake. I can't wait to bid farewell to the snake. It wasn't a good year for me. Hopefully, the year of the horse will be a good one.

Traditionally on the last day of the old year, us Chinese feast and gamble the night away. (gamble the night away is optional) The feast aka Reunion Dinner is a must. It's still early afternoon as I write this post so we haven't had our Reunion Dinner. My MIL hosts the Reunion Dinner. The dinner will probably include a tossing of salad (yu-sheng) for good fortunes. My MIL makes a pretty good salad which is way better than the ones sold in supermarkets or restaurants.

We are quite ready for Chinese New Year which is tomorrow and the day after. In Singapore, the first 2 days of Chinese New Year are public holidays. Which means, some people will take the opportunity to travel overseas for a quick holiday.

This year I was well-prepared and bought our 8 mandarin oranges on Monday. Most families buy a whole carton. We don't eat these fruits because my kids don't like them and as for me, they give me a 1,000 day cough. I exaggerate, more like a 100 day cough. I just have to remember to take the 8 oranges with us when we go visiting our relatives tomorrow.

I have also got our red packets ready. My son helped me stuff the red packets with money. As much as I hate to give money away, it is the tradition to give away red packets during Chinese New Year. My kids do receive red packets from my relatives after all. In Singapore, we give red packets to our relatives who aren't married. This means every kid will get one. I'm in charge of who to give to for my side of the family and hubs takes care of who to give to for his side.

The designs for red packets have become quite different from the tradition over the years. I really like Mister Potato - it's so weird!

The new year will be the year of the horse and this red packet (I know it's golden) shows a horse. What's clever about this design is the character for horse is incorporated in the design.

I'm still loosely playing with the idea of giving my home a last cleaning - like a major vacuuming, washing of the bathrooms etc. However, the thought of it alone is so tiring. Tomorrow we can't sweep the floors as we don't want to sweep our fortunes away. That shouldn't be a problem for me as I'm happy not to do any sweeping of the floors. Well, I should at least fold the dry laundry and put them away.

I'l see you in the year of the horse.

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 2014 Giveaway

Giveaway is closed. Winner announced here.

Hello dear readers,

As I've mentioned previously, I planned on having 12 giveaways this year. This is the first one. I finally sorted out my "sewing room" aka family study room. I moved a few pieces of furniture around and over the weekend I cleared the remaining clutter and got the chance to access my sewing machine.

This little lunchtime drawstring pouch is what I'm giving away. Yes, just the one pouch. The props and hearts aren't included. It took me under an hour to sew this little pouch together. I had already picked out the fabric so sewing it together is really easy. I'll be honest with you. I really enjoyed making this pouch. For quite a long time, I've been sewing like a robot. The whole process of choosing the fabric, taking my time and not worrying about whether it will sell is really so liberating. I'm so in the mood to sew some more now!

If you're a regular reader, you'll probably know my pouch is based on my Perfect Size Reversible Lunchtime Pouch pattern which is available as a pdf download at Etsy and Craftsy. Take note the pdf pattern does not cover patchwork and some folks do take over an hour to make the first one. (it's not a competition)

Because I can, I take liberties with my own pattern. The exterior is made up of simple patchwork - just a few pieces of fabric pieced together.

This is the lining. Are you drooling over the cute bicycles print? Suzee of AppleHead Threads gifted it to me. I only used a small amount and I have some left. I promise I'll use some of the remaining fabric to make something nice for myself.

The round bottoms are so pinchable! Like xiao long bao? (little dragon dumplings)

It gets poufy when you fill it up with stuff.

And this is how you carry it! Yes, you may swing it if you like.

Have I got you excited? Well the lunchtime drawstring pouch can be yours if you enter my giveaway and win.

How to enter?

♥ Leave a comment on this blog post. Tell me what your fantasy job is.
My fantasy job is this: I have a booth where I sew and embroider on a canvas and people pay to watch me work. It's sort of like being a busker except I sew instead of sing and the booth is air-conditioned. (I live near the equator for god's sake)

♥ One entry per person. Duplicates will be deleted.

♥ Leave your email address if your profile is not tied to your email.

♥ Open to every human on earth reachable by a postal worker.

♥ Ends 10th Feb 2014 Singapore time.

♥ One winner will be picked by and the winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or I will pick another winner.

In case you don't know, I'm also at

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A dress for Jane

I bought a dress for Chinese New Year. What's significant about this dress is I haven't won a dress for decades since I became a mother. (I shan't count the maternity dress I still wear to sleep)

I used to love to wear dresses. And skirts. And mini skirts. Then one day I woke up fatter and I realise it's a lot harder to hide your flabby body under dresses and skirts. So I started wearing jeans, loose pants, T-shirts and shorts. Is this what happened to most moms? Dressing to hide our bodies?

Well last week I was out shopping and out of all the dresses I tried, this one I bought was the only one I could get into. It seems manufacturers nowadays design for women with extremely small bodies. Like tiny, tiny bodies. One dress I tried, I nearly couldn't get out of. I almost screamed for help but was too embarrassed to. I mean I had stuff hanging out for god's sake. After I struggled out of the outfit, I discovered I had worn it back to front. Who puts a long zipper in front anyway?

I think the dress is dark blue on top. I thought it was black when I bought it. I have shat eyes. I know it's for Chinese New Year and I should have gone for something reddish. But I look like crap in red.

And I have 3 necklaces which will go with this outfit - 2 of which were made by me. Isn't it just wonderful to be able to make your own jewellery?

Unless I put on a ton of weight, this is what I'll be wearing on 31st Jan.

p.s. I'm making something for my January giveaway and I have a craft book I want to sell. So come back you hear?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So far so good

I started this year with a lot of worries and apprehension - actually kinda describes how I am usually. I'm a worrier. Hubs is the guy who does the right amount of worrying. I over-worry. Sometimes I under-worry. Then I worry that I'm not worrying enough. Oh boy.

Anyhoos at least one of my worries is over and done with. Last week we took care of my son's post-secondary education. In Singapore, most kids at aged 16 take a national exam (GCE 'O' levels). Based on the results, you get to choose where you want to pursue your further education. It was an eye opener for me as this is the first time I'm going thru' this process as a parent. Luckily I could call up a friend to explain the system to me. We went to a few open houses and my son chose the junior college route. We do have to wait to find out which school he gets posted to. Hopefully, he enjoys his next 2 years of education.

So last week was kind of different for me as I was mostly reading up on the post-secondary stuff. Too many choices! It's mind boggling. And after we had wrapped up the application, I got exhausted and decided the best way to unwind was to do a lot of shopping. Chinese New Year is just round the corner after all! Maybe I'll show you a dress I bought? It's my first dress in decades! Next post then. Oh, I'm afraid we plonked money down for a bigger TV. It's all hubs. Men! It's never big enough.

Remember in my last post I unearthed some forgotten books? I'll show you some of them. Not all, I promise.

Once upon a time I was attracted to such books. I'm not saying these are terrible books or anything. Just that I don't read them anymore. I remember I shed tears reading Angela's Ashes. Would you call these "chick books"?

I started reading Japanese novels translated in English when I was 13. Back then I found it really hard to get such books. My only source was the library.

The first Japanese translated novel I read was I am a cat by Soseki Natsume. I was hooked. Since then I've gone on to read many other authors. Next time I'll tell you more about them. I still read Japanese translated novels. Sometimes I re-read the ones I've already read. Pathetic, right?

I used to have a thing for "Oriental" books. Weird huh?

The first "Oriental" book I read was The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck. I was still in primary school and during the long school holidays, I enjoyed raiding my older sisters' Literature text books. Many, many years later, I discovered Pearl S Buck wasn't Chinese. When I read The Good Earth, I really thought it was written by a Chinese. That's really something! (Her name clearly wasn't Chinese but somehow that escaped me.)

John Irving is one of my favourite authors. I find his books hard to read though. The first few chapters are usually draggy but once you get past them, you'll be rewarded. His stories usually cover a long timeline and as the characters age, you grow with them. At least that's how I feel. A Prayer For Owen Meany took a while to enjoy but when I finally did, I felt I wanted more.

*amazon affiliate alert*

Friday, January 10, 2014

The forgotten bookshelf

I have suddenly found myself very busy again and not in a good way either. I've been on my hands and knees, wiping and cleaning and tidying up my study.

Now I had no intention of spending any time doing any sort of housework even though I really should because Chinese New Year is coming and you're supposed to make your home nice and clean. I'm a very lazy person. Plus I have many Internet things to do.

You all know my home is very messy on account of my sporadic cleaning/tidying schedule aka when I feel like it. And I don't like people touching my stuff so I don't hire a cleaning person. Each time I sew madly for a craft market, I leave stuff around, on the floor, any space I can find. The study room is where I do my sewing so you can imagine how much stuff has accumulated. One space in particular was in danger of collapsing as I had run out of space and started to pile up. Towards the ceiling.

So let me help you picture it. My study room. It's very small, squarish. It has no doors, just a wide opening that leads to the living room. There are 2 computers on one side of one wall. 2 tall open bookshelves one on each side of the wall. In between is a big window. There is also an ironing board, irons, my sewing table, a wardrobe for my bags plus a million things on whatever available space is on the floor. So why didn't I take a picture of the room before I started tidying up? Well, this is not one of those "being real" kind of post. I go to great length to crop out the messiness because it is so horrifying.

Well, back to my study room. It is almost impossible to walk all the way to the windows because of the stuff on the floor. I felt quite guilty and all because they're mostly my stuff but I had Internet things to do.

Then three days ago, hubs stood in the study surveying. Then he started yelling about the curtains. Yes, the curtains. He wanted to change the curtains because they were dirty and not hung properly and he felt they made our home look so horrible, much much worse than what it was.

That's right, the curtains. Not the mountain of stuff on the floor. Just the curtains.

Now I should have let hubs change the curtains. Then I would be happily doing Internet things. Instead I told him I would take care of it. I have this thing about putting something clean on something dirty. It's just so weird. So I cleaned the window grilles. That took at least 2 hours. I cleaned the chest of drawers below the windows. I tidied up. I threw stuff away. Finally I could hang up clean curtains. And the stuff I had moved to get to the curtains? I had to sort, pack and find new spaces for them. Basically I ended up doing spring cleaning. But it's just the study room you understand? So don't come visiting.

Here are some in progress shots.

Then I discovered a small library of my books hidden in a corner beside the window which I had forgotten about. Do you know when we first moved into our home, hubs wouldn't let me put any of my fiction books on the two bookshelves he had bought. He has a lot of books and certainly was able to fill up the shelves. Every time I left a book on his shelves, he would remove it and put it in a obscure corner. I would put it back and he would banish it to the obscure corner again. One day he bought me my very own book shelf. A tiny tall book shelf where I could put all my fiction books and leave his untainted.

Clearly I have forgotten my bookshelf of books. A huge layer of dust had settled. Spider webs were woven and discarded. Ferns have grown. Lizards have laid their shats over and over behind the bookshelf on the floor. (I have polite lizards - they left my books alone) It took me a very long time but I managed to get rid of the dust.

I'm so happy to be reunited with my books. I hope to interest my kids in some of them. In my next post, I'll show you a few of the books.

Oh, almost forgot. Here are the dem curtains. (from Ikea)
p.s. If you're wondering, the stand on the left is where we keep our music CDs. The tall boxes are CD box sets. Yep, we're the kind of family who still buys CDs. (and by "we", I mean hubs)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to attach a PDF to your Blogger blog post

Have you ever clicked on a link in a blog post and it opens to a PDF? Have you ever wondered how on earth the linking and magical retrieval of the file are done?

Well, I have. Because I have 3 online free tutorials which link to PDFs.

First of all, you need a internet space to store your file. Then you need to make it public and the linking is the easy part. The hard part is finding a internet space to store your file. Because you don't want to have to pay for the space. You want it FREE.

Back in the days, I used scribd. It was free. Then one day it started asking for money. So I moved my files to Acrobat workspace which was free as well.

One day I discovered google is very generous with internet space. It's called Google Drive. No, don't look out of your window. It's in the internet! It's in the internet! Okay, if you want, it's in your monitor. So when I created my Doggie Embroidery Floss Keeper, I put the PDF in my google drive. And it's not very hard to do either.

Anyhoo, this morning I received a email from Adobe that my free Acrobat workspace will eventually be taken back and I have some time to find an alternative space for my files. (I only have 2 PDFs residing on Acrobat workspace)

So I'm moving my files, right? And I thought why not write a tute while I'm at it. I know it works for Blogger as I use Blogger. So here goes.

Edit 22th March 2016 p.s. I have updated the following steps and photos as the interface has changed a lot since I wrote this post in 2014.

1. You must have a file to upload first.

2. If you're on Blogger, you already have a Gmail or Google account. Go to
Sign in if you haven't already.

3. To upload your file. See My Drive? Click and select "Upload files..."

4. Go to correct folder where your file resides and select file.

5. A upload wizard appears on right hand side. See image below. When upload is complete, click on pdf and it will open.

6. Within the pdf, you will see this symbol which looks like a person+. Click on it.

7. Click "Advanced" to get more options.

8. Click "Change" to modify access. Note that at this point, this pdf is "Private - Only you can access".

9. Select the access you desire. Mine is a free tute so I choose "Public on the web". If I want to restrict it to only people I share the link with, then I would choose "Anyone with the link". Click Save.

10. Clicking Save on previous screen will take you back to this screen below. Here is where you can grab the link (just click on the link and right click copy) you need to put in your blog post. Notice you can also share on gmail, Google+, facebook and twitter. Note the access has changed to "Public on the web - Anyone on the Internet can find and view." (because this was what I selected)

11. If you don't know how to link to the file in a blog post, here's a quick how-to. The screen below is your Blogger editor.

Is that easy?

Hope my instructions are clear.

Edited 8th September 2016
Zeedon Briggs asks for the pdf to be embedded in a blogger post. Is that possible? Yes.

First, let's assume you have already done all the access changes needed. Next open the pdf in your google drive. The codes you need is hidden so you need to do the following. First click on the 3 vertical dots. Next click on "open in new window. (see image below)

You will get the same pdf opened in a new window like below. In this newly opened pdf, click on the 3 vertical dots again and this time you will see the option "Embed item...". Click on that.

You should get the next screen. Copy the code and paste it in the HTML editor in blogger. If you put in COMPOSE editor it won't work.
You can modify the width and height to your liking.

The above is a screenshot of what it looks like on a blogger blog post. If your reader needs to print or download the pdf (assuming you have given the access), he needs to click on the pop-up icon and the pdf will open in a new tab where the print and download options will be available.

Hope this helps.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I shall have my cake and eat it too

Wow. Just like that, we're in the 2nd week of 2014. Did you guys make any resolutions? I gave it a lot of thought end of last year and decided I will once again make a list of resolutions for 2014. Yes, I can see some of your eyes rolling. Now I know it can be pretty meaningless sometimes to keep making resolutions and not really keeping them throughout the year. But let me explain my thoughts.

I feel that one of the best things about starting a new year is you get the chance to start over. The chance to set some goals to shoot for. And so what if you don't keep all your resolutions? The effort you make to improve your life, to grow and be a better person; the hope that you can achieve it one day - that's what keep us going.

Were you moved by what I just wrote? No tears? Okay, just to make you laugh, hopefully until you pee or the tears come (whichever occurs first), I'm going to tell you about the resolution I was vaguely bouncing around in my head and not quite fully committing to it because of so many issues one of which includes lack of self-control. The resolution was NOT TO EAT CAKE.

Cake does not kill me. It just makes me fat and slightly ill which means I have to go to the toilet a lot. It's probably a dairy thing.

Cake has always been my weakness. If I eat it once in a while, it's okay. The problem is if I don't eat cake for a while, I will eat a lot of it until I'm ill.

So I dilly dallied and before I knew it, New Year's come and gone and my resolutions are still not cast in stone. And since nothing was cast in stone, I decided to go ahead and start 2014 by EATING A LOT OF CAKE. Yes, I broke the resolution I hadn't yet made. And I spent half the day going in and out of the toilet. I had two slices left which I probably should throw out on account of my going in and out of the toilet. That would have been a wise thing to do. I thought about it for a good 5 minutes. No, that was a lie. More like 5 seconds. I weighed the cons versus the pros. Go toilet many times versus EAT A LOT OF CAKE. Having given the matter considerable consideration, I told myself:

I shall have my cake and eat it too.

So, my first resolution:
Don't tell myself not to eat cake. (I will want it more)

What? Not funny enough? No tears? Nothing? Not even a teeny bit of pee?

Moving on... This next resolution is pretty serious. You know how I've always talked about how accident prone I am? The reality is I am a careless person. I get hit, kicked, scraped, knocked pretty easily. I mean, I'm probably the only person you've heard of who lost her hearing after being knocked on the head with a gym bench weight. (long story) In fact, I ended last year pretty badly. First, I dropped a pair of scissors with its pointy end down on my foot and just barely missing my toes. The scissors broke and thankfully I kept my toes. Second, on the last day of my Vivocity craft market, I was so dead tired that when I went to bed, I did not sleep in a proper position and ended up hurting my neck. It hurt really bad for two weeks. It was tough sleeping and you know sleeping is my favourite thing to do.

My second resolution:
Be more careful. Don't get myself injured.

My third resolution:
Be less cranky. 

Hubs informed me recently that I'm a cranky person. It was quite a revelation to me because I've never ever remotely considered myself a cranky person. So hearing it from his mouth made me want to hurl myself on him and smack him around on his face until he said I wasn't a cranky person... But  that would prove I'm cranky. So I did all that hurling and smacking in my mind instead. How did I get to be such a cranky person? Have I always been this way and people not let me know because they're afraid I'll hurl myself on them and smack them around on their faces? I don't really know how to be less cranky (having only been informed I am cranky recently) but I am not happy that hubs (and possibly other people too) thinks I'm cranky. So I will start by being less complaining. And less ranting. And be more forgiving. Okay, maybe that's a stretch. I think the first two's a pretty good start.

My fourth resolution:
Make less. Create more.

Being someone who does the craft market circuit, I often went for quantity. I've been doing craft markets since 2009. It's been 5 years of making and hawking. This year I don't want to do so many craft markets. Some people will remind me I say this every year. But this year's for real. But why don't I want to keep doing craft markets? There are many reasons - too much competition, tiredness, boredom. If I am freed from craft markets, I have much more time to explore my creativity with my bags and pouches. I do want to continue making and selling a small number of my bags and pouches. How can I achieve that without my regular craft markets? So that's something I have to think about and work on.

My fifth resolution:
Keep learning new stuff but go beyond "making stuff".

I've never stopped enjoying being a student, opening my eyes to possibilities. But for the past few years, I've mostly kept learning about making stuff. That's not going to change. This year, I hope to expand my horizon beyond handmade like software and internet things. These have always been a vague thingy for me - never fully able to get the whowhatwhyhah? Tidying up my blog is going to be my number 1 priority. And I have to keep working on my Adobe CS software.

So there you have it. 5 goals to shoot for in 2014. May this be a good year for you and me.
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