Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Crafting: Gardening Apron (courtesy of Design Sponge)

So after the long Memorial Weekend crafting, I finally fell sick. I ran a temperature on Monday night and had to call in sick the next day. It was probably all that running in and out of the house. The MIL likes to keep the a/c at a freezing cold temperature, so I step outside frequently to keep warm, but I think i caught a chill because of that. Ugh.

Too restless to stay in bed, I decide to attempt a craft recently spotted on Design Sponge. Off on a tangent, did you know that they changed the look of their blog? I like the old one better because it felt more homely, cozy and friendly. Now the new layout looks so professional and screams "We mean BUSINESS".

But that's just me.

I'll still be following because they post lovely Pinteresting images and have loads of crafty tutorials and advice.

I read this Gardening Apron tutorial awhile ago, and bookmarked it for later. Today seems like a good day to attempt it. It is such an easy project and the tutorial comes with such clear cut instructions and pictures that it didn't take me much effort to make. I've been wanting to make something to thank a friend's mom because she has been such a lovely lady to J and I. She gave us a gazillion seeds from her seed stash, along with advice on how to care for them. She is a fantastic cook - there's always cookies sitting atop her kitchen counter, food in the fridge. She keeps home decor magazines for me, hoping to help me with my crafting inspirations. She is like a third mother to me!

So here is a picture of the finished apron.

Gardening Apron

Three pockets in the front! It doesn't have to be used for gardening, you could wear it to craft, to cook, to paint. It's such a nifty little piece!

If you do attempt it, share some pictures when you're done! I always love to see people's take on fabric choices or template variations. Ok back to bed. *faints*

Yay! 100th Post!!! Matryoshka Delight!

I've been very productive this Memorial Weekend, listing four new items on my Etsy store

Have you seen my favourite though?

Embroidered Matryoshka Russian dolls Carry-all tote! (close up)

I'm loving the colours! I'm glad i finally decided to practice my embroidery stitching again. It was so much fun!

Embroidered Matryoshka Russian Dolls Carry-all Tote (front)

Embroidered Matryoshka Russian Dolls Carry-all Tote (back)

Wish i could craft all day long...

By the way, if you'd like to try out that cute little bag for yourself, i got the pattern off Burda Style. It's a free download, so go ahead and have yourself a fun time!

Onward fellow crafters!

Here' s an Expository Writing Topic for you.

The J-man signed up for an English Expository Writing class this summer. Naturally, he needed my help. Inspiration, grammar and spell check all rolled into one, we were working on his first assignment over the Memorial Weekend.

He has chosen to write about 5-8 paragraphs about his bachelor party in Malaysia, seeing how Hangover 2 just hit the screens.

Listening to his horror story all over again made me crack up. In retrospect, it's hilarious, but it sure wasn't funny at all when it had happened, especially when all your friends don't show up the very first 24 hours because they were hungover. Or when you and your best man get lost in the jungle for five hours, near nightfall; almost drowning in the sea trying to swim around a cliff.

Anyway, that's what you get for picking such a motley crew of boys for your groomsmen - 2 party-crazy Frenchies, 1 oddball Australian, 2 preppy Swedes and 1 hippie childhood best friend.

Presenting the groom and his groomsmen.


I'm having a ball with this written assignment.

Monday, May 30, 2011


The j-man is horribly dyslexic when it comes to writing and reading aloud. This is evident when he reads telephone numbers in the wrong order and consistently says things like 'a-mi-nal'.


everyone is guilty of a little bit of spoonerisms now and then.

The MIL said, in the car today.

"Oh my gosh, did you see that crane trash on the news the other day?"


runny babbit

Here's a great book by Shel Silverstein (Author of The Giving Tree) that plays on spoonerisms! Check it out!

What are some spoonerisms you've overheard? Share them! I'm in need of a good chuckle.

And don't forget about the giveaway! Ends this Friday!

Happy Memorial Weekend! x

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spreading Good Cheer Giveaway: Look up!

Guess what we saw up in the sky today?



It's a balloon fest! We screamed hello and they tried to land in a field next to our house, but not quite successful, because they almost got caught in a tree, so they took off again.

Now is this inspiration or what.


Except that i'm not too witty to think up a clever phrase to accompany the embroidery. So i'm doing my FIRST giveaway, seeing how giveaways always spread good cheer all round.


Help me think of a catchy phrase to embroider. I'll pick the best one, embroider it, and then send you this embroidered wall art, as a way to say thank you! The hoop measures 5". The giveaway ends next Friday, 3rd June 11:59PM EST.

I am going to extend this to international readers too, since most of my friends are not in the US. So put on your thinking caps!! Send in your clever entries. Oh yes, and multiple entries are ok :)


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

News from the garden!


Look at what started to flower in the garden!


I'm so excited about the big yellow zucchini flower! It is gorgeous, and yes, a city girl like me never knew!


And the bush beans have started to flower too!

On the whole, our garden seems to be doing better, even with worries about the plants not getting enough sun. We were also starting to worry about our Thai basil and rosemary after we thought we had picked them prematurely last week and as a result screwed up the whole plant. But nature is a wondrous thing. This morning, we'd seen that the picked areas started to grow new leaves. PHEW!

I'd better start weeding again this evening. The weeds are starting to bother me (and the plants!)

How are your plants doing?

Etsy Pick of the Week :: bylina ::


You know how embroidery excites me.

When I made my treasury list some time ago, I found this little gem of a shop - bylina.

The lovely lady, Katarina is the inspiration behind this Etsy shop. I've had the privilege to do a short interview with her. I am in love with her collection of vintage linens, hand embroidery and lace, and I want to share my finds with you!

handwoven pillow 2

1. Tell us a little about yourself

I live in the beautiful city of Barcelona with my husband and our little boy. After years in the fashion industry I decided it was time to get creative on my own. For a long time I have been collecting vintage hand made embroidery from Slovakia, where I am originally from. Embroidery is a very important part of Slovak folk cultural heritage. It is generally very rich in color combinations, motifs and the craftsmanship that has gone into making it is absolutely amazing. Also I grew up in an environment where crafting was an everyday occurrence. Both my grandmothers and my mum love needlecraft. To this day I still scavenge my local flea markets with my grand mother in search of vintage embroidery.

2. And a little about your Etsy shop, bylina

The idea behind my shop was to give a new purpose to beautiful vintage hand made needle-crafted pieces that would be otherwise locked up in my closet. The largest part of my collection are embroidered tablecloths which I find are not very practical for every day use. So I started to repurpose them into objects that I could easily incorporate in my home and fit better with my sense of aesthetic. For now, in my Etsy shop, I sell repurposed pillow covers, wall art and vintage pieces. But there is much more to come...


3. What do you draw your inspirations from?

My inspiration comes from the needlecraft itself and the hours that were dedicated into making it, which I really admire.

4. What is your favorite piece by far, and why?

It is very hard for me to pick just one piece as a favorite because each piece is different and unique. But I do have two favorites : the pair of vintage embroidered wall art hoops and the vintage geometric hand woven pillow cover (both featured in this article).

5. Do you have any words of encouragement for new Etsy sellers out there?

I listed my first item on Etsy three months ago so I am still very new at this and I am still learning...

Well, aren't we all learning every day anyway.

Thank you Katarina, you were so kind to oblige! Please visit bylina for more vintage embroidered beauties!!

Movie Wedding Dress top picks!

I just pinned a whole bunch of wedding gowns on my Pinterest! It's always fun to daydream about flouncy dresses and wedding gowns. And plain simple white gowns are always the prettiest and most elegant.

I may not have watched a whole bunch of movies, but here are some of my all time faves!

funny face wedding dress
Beautiful Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face

scarlett ohara
Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind -- Scarlett O'Hara's wedding dress

Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice

Claire Danes in Romeo and Juliet in her masquerade dress! Love the elegance in its simplicity!

And finally, Amanda Seyfried in Mama Mia. Her dress was so ethereal and fairy-like. LOVED it!

Don't they make you just want to pull out a white dress and prance around in it? What is your favourite movie wedding dress?

Monday, May 23, 2011

I feel like I could be...


the 500-piece puzzle Queen!

Finished this last night with my MIL. Brings back childhood memories of puzzles of the past. My very first completed 500-piece puzzle was a birthday gift. It was a picture of Disney's Snow White and the 7 dwarves and I was proud of it because i finished it all by myself. My mother and i glued it to a cardboard base and then she sent it for framing. I wonder if she still has it...

My biggest regret was not buying this 1000 piece puzzle which was a scene of the African savannah, with the savannah animals all lined up in a row. The elephants took centre stage, flanked by giraffes and lions and zebras and antelopes, and more small animals at the ends. The whole puzzle was in sepia and i loved how beautiful it looked. I remember telling myself that I wouldn't be able to finish it so I never bought it. All i remember was, every time i walked past the store, i would gaze longingly at the completed puzzle on display, and wished it was hanging in my room instead. I can't find that puzzle now. :(

Now i'm on the hunt for another puzzle to start!!

vintage flora

Here's one vintage flora 500-piece that i like.

rosie riveter
How about Rosie the Riveter?

Oh my goodness, do i have time for yet another hobby?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day Trip: NoDa All Arts Market


Sorry Zhingy, I didn't take any more photos other than this one. :(

I was too excited checking out all the booths set up inside. And there were more little stalls set up by the roadside too.

NoDa is an area that is home to a collection of galleries, restaurants, stores and performance venues. Situated on North Davidson St at 36th, it is peppered with little quaint houses, complete with vegetable gardens and trees filled with nests! What a lovely little place to live in! Every 1st and 3rd Friday, NoDa hosts a gallery crawl that encourages people to check out the lively and unique street scene. There was this one cute little shop (I forgot its name!) but it sold little traditional trinkets across different cultures, like nacho libre masks, turkish evil eye charms and even chinese golden piggy banks. Very interesting!

Here is how I persuaded the J-man to accompany me downtown.


He was like a kid in a candy store in this Asian mega-mart, called New Century, located a couple miles away from the NoDa area. Time to stock up on the kim chee and the sambal belachan! We bought some spring roll skins and this was what transpired.


Spring Rolls before deep flash-frying. We added carrot, cucumber, ginger strips as well as shrimp and some wild wood ear fungus, freshly picked!

One yummylicious and adventure-filled day off! WHEEEE!!

You Put Your Arms Around Me...

and i'm home...

I'm so in love with this song right now.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How to be A More Productive Stitcher

Just came across this article with some awesome tips on how to increase your productivity when it comes to crafting.

I am completely guilty when it comes to zero productivity, using my day job as a major excuse. But there are moments, or should i say, spurts of productivity, especially when i get excited over a project that I've been waiting to work on. This is my version of sewing productivity:

1. Deciding on the project.

I know my schedule and I know when my days off are. So i plan two or three projects that I'm interested in working on. My usual output per day off is ONE completed project, so i don't get all ambitious and plan for six or seven different things. But planning for 2 or 3 projects gives me a choice on the day itself, to see which project takes my whim and fancy.

2. Plan ahead of time, and gather materials needed

With the 2 or 3 projects in mind, i also prepare the materials I would need. I list the things I don't have and try to get them at the craft store by my workplace. That way, I don't have to spend precious minutes on my day off running to the store, when i can just get down to crafting.

3. NO distractions!

I like to check my mail first thing in the mornings, but I know if i whip out my computer, I get sucked into checking my twitter, reading other blogs, browsing through etsy and a gazillion things i do online. So on days off, i have to fight the urge to take out the computer. When i whip out my sewing machine instead of my computer, half the battle is won.

I don't have a designated sewing space. My MIL likes the house tidy so i have to take out all my sewing equipment and put them back again when I'm done. Sometimes, the thought of that is enough to put me off crafting. On other days, my to-do list overwhelms me, crafting just seems impossible. Sleeping in is also very enticing, but I'm proud to say, that is ONE obstacle I have conquered. I wake up at the same time every day, regardless of the day of the week. With an erratic work schedule, it's easy. I just imagine i have to wake up for work everyday, instead of thinking, "aww man, it's a sunday, i SHOULD be allowed to sleep in for once!"

Here's the original Sewing Productivity Project. I think it's over, but it's a good exercise to reflect upon my crafting habits, and be more aware of how I can increase my output.

If you're an avid crafter, check the site out for yourself too! Do you have any good tips to share or bad habits to quit?

Diamonds are a girl's best friend...


So my work mates have planned an outing to the Hiddenite Gem Mines on a Monday when we all don't have to go to work. This place is an emerald mine that is open to the public for prospecting. One of my friends have been there several times and she's shown me her pictures of some of the crystals she's found. Granted, they're not huge crystals, but she said that the whole process of sluicing and digging and finding gems is really the exciting part.

I've since read up on some crystals and their healing properties. I wear a jade pendant that my mother gave me since I was a child, and so, I thought I'd read up on that first.

In the Chinese culture, jade has been considered a lucky stone that brings health, wealth and longevity. Jade comes in many different colours, and it is said that the colours of crystals are to be matched with the the colours of our chakras - the main energy centers of our body - to be most effective. The colours of the chakras consist of the seven colours of the spectrum, starting with red for the root chakra located at the base of our spine, all the up to violet, the crown chakra at the top of our head.

My piece of jade is green which is the colour of the heart chakra, relating to balance and harmony and love. Wearing it around my neck feels like such an apt thing to do. The jade pendant hangs upon my chest, which helps open up the heart chakra to communication and self expression. Incidentally, my chinese name means "bright jade". Ain't that cool?

My mother bought a pair of citrine earrings as a wedding gift to me. The citrine crystal is connected to the yellow Sacral or navel chakra. Citrine is a stone of happiness, bringing joy and optimism into one's life. And apparently it is one of only two crystals on the planet that does not hold negative energy, but dispels and transforms it. With most crystals, you have to cleanse them of the negative energy accumulated, but I guess it is said to be such an energizing and positive crystal, that cleansing is not necessary.

I must remember to put them on more often, if not for the benefits, at least it makes me feel pretty! Can't wait for the trip!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crafting: Ruffled Blouse Reconstruction

I was re-organizing my dresser today and found a bunch of clothes that I had stashed away awhile ago. They are all a few sizes too big (which explains why they were "stashed away") but I couldn't bear to give away because I loved the prints. I thought maybe one day I could reconstruct them into something more my size, and along the way I guess they just got forgotten. Terrible hoarder!!! *tsk tsk*

Anyway, today is one of the days when I AM going to do something about my hoarded stash.

I picked this one to experiment with.


I'm not a big fan of gathered collars and ruffled sleeves, i feel like they look kinda frumpy on me. So, snip-snip-snip. Bye bye collar, ruffles and kerfuffles.


I'm going to make myself a tube top!

But hang on! this looks strangely similar to the beach dress reconstruction! Could it work? Barely containing my excitement, i zigzagged the cut edges before turning the hem in about 1.5" to sew a casing for my 1" wide elastic band.

I threaded the elastic band all the way through (with a safety pin this time *yay!*) and decided to try it on before i sewed the casing shut. Just to see how it falls on my silhouette.

Thank goodness i did that. I guess making an elastic-waisted skirt is kinda different from making an elastic top. It didn't look too flattering.

Then i decided that the elastic should go only at the back of my top. I removed the elastic from the front, and left about 9" of elastic in the back.


Now, how did i come up with the magic number 9" measurement, you might ask. It's a little bit of actual measurement and a bit of fumbling in the dark. I took my high bust* measurements, divided it by 2 to get the width of the top when laid flat. So my high bust measures 30", and when divided by 2 is 15". But because of the elastic band, you want the width to be shorter than 15". I guesstimated 12" so ...

first i ripped the side seams and then snipped off a total of 3" (1.5" from both ends). Finally I rejoined the side seams to make the tube whole again.

*High bust measurements taken around the body above the bust (where you want your tube to sit), across the widest part of the back, under the arms.

Here's the resulting top!



Nothing fancy, but i get to wear the prints I like in a style that is more flattering on me! Yay!!!

Thrifting: Goodwill Hunting

I persuaded the J-man to take me to Goodwill one Monday. I had wanted to go to the one nearest our home, but J surprised me by taking me to a bigger store in Mooresville. Well actually, he had also wanted to go to this Indian restaurant, Mint for lunch, which was why he so graciously suggested the Goodwill around the corner. And I'm not complaining!

For $25,


goodwill find: two pairs of jeans
2 comfy pairs of jeans

goodwill find: floral skirt
1 lovely floral skirt to twirl around in


goodwill find: jailbird shirt

goodwill find: library shirt

2 hilarious tees (love the forrest gump quote)


goodwill find: classics!
3 hardback classics


214 Williamson Road
Mooresville, NC 28117
(704) 696-0033

And apparently the Goodwill in Cornelius is EVEN better! *hyperventilates*

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Etsy Pick of the Week :: Folkspirit ::


"I wake up, and my hands are there, waiting to help me with anything I need."

~ Elecia
Read her interview on Etsy

Each day I find more and more inspiring people who do much good, who craft and create, who return to the simplicity of life and respect and love the world around them. This lady from Indiana, a self-taught herbalist, is one who chooses to put her faith in the natural remedies the good Earth gives, than submit to the profit-driven drug companies. *two brownie points in my book*

She creates herbal salves, teas and other natural goodness like... get this... smoking blends!! in her Etsy store Folkspirit

And she dreams of owning a home tucked away in the mountains with lots of land and a garden to call [her] own! Yay to garden growers!!! *two more brownie points*

The J-man believes in the FDA conspiracy of the suppression of cures and has been persuaded to self medicate (on a lot of occasions) using his Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). I have been skeptical, but perhaps now a little less, ever since the incident with Boopses. If you're not in the know, our dog Boopses had a near drowning incident about a week ago, but managed to swim to shore despite weak arthritic legs. She had looked so weak after, we were afraid her time was up. That night, she fell into a convulsive fit but came to a minute later. We suspected water in her lungs and read that it could cause pneumonia, which could eventually kill her. Worried, J put small doses of MMS in Boopses' water on several occasions. The very next day, she was back to her normal self.

Now, I'm not saying that I attributed it to this miraculous solution. But I like the concept. It supposedly kills the pathogens that kill or diminish the power of our immune system, which then allows our own immune system to kick in and heal the body of the afflicted diseases. I like the fact that it is our body that does the healing, and not some manufactured drug. That is also why I like Folkspirit, and its emphasis on natural remedies.

Because in the beginning, when the world was in a balance, the first people understood and respected the power of all things natural.

Boopses is still going strong. Just saying.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crafting on a Monday: Bloodshed for a tote

I bought some upcycled bed linen off Etsy and used it for this...


This is a first, sewing a bag with a base, and adding those darned wooden handles. i am pleased, but could have been neater. My sewing machine kept jamming up so i had to hand stitch the straps that held the handles. That was before I found out I could unscrew the handles from the metal hooks for easier sewing and handling. *GGAAAAHHHH*

Hand stitching through 4 layers of cotton and canvas + many pin pricks = bloodshed and tears



This is a much calmer me, after a whole morning of an endless tirade of expletives. I shall attempt another bag on another occasion for the shop. and then i can add in a pocket or two, and a metal clasp for closure. With some experience and more planning this time, it should be easy-peasy! i hope. *blinks*

Monday, May 16, 2011

How does your garden grow?

Pretty well, I must say.

The first half of the garden, we planted from scratch. And the second half at the back, is what I call our "play-cheat" garden. We bought decent sized ones from Lowe's to be replanted in our back yard.

Our planted from scratch zucchini going crazy after a few heavy showers, thunderstorms and fish poo fertilizer.

Our store bought tomato plant growing out it's first few crazy looking tomatoes.

This is either a brussel sprout or broccoli plant (we forgot to mark them out and they look so similar!) but I think it's more like the leaves of a young broccoli plant.

Picked some basil leaves and rosemary and oregano just because! They smell wonderful!!!! We might make a meal of stir-fried chicken with basil and chillies tonight! Yum!!!

Crafting on a Monday: Make your own wrapping paper!

So this is what we do at work to amuse the kiddos.


We call it the Marblelized-effect.


Tempera paints
Shaving cream
Disposable Coffee Stirrer / Popsicle sticks
Hard edged cardboard/ plastic
A serving tray or any Wipe-able surface (cos it's gonna get real messy!)


Step 1:

Squirt shaving cream all over tray. Experiment with different amounts. We were quite generous with the dosage :p

Pick any combination of paints to dribble onto tray, on top of the shaving cream. We used squirt bottles, so all you need to do is to squeeze the paint out of the bottle.

Step 2:
Use a stirrer (we used straws) to mix up the paint and shaving cream some more, creating swirly patterns. But the trick is not to stir it up too much, just enough to create some pretty swirls.

Step 3:
Gently place a piece of paper over your paints and pat down.

Step 4:
Lift the paper gently and turn it around. Lay it on a flat surface. Grab your hard-edged piece of cardboard. Start from one end of the paper, scrape off, in one sweeping motion, all the excess cream and paint.

Step 5:
Let it air dry (although it should be pretty dry by then) and admire the end results!

You can use it to make cool wrapping paper or frame it up as pieces of art! Have fun!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Etsy Pick of the Week :: King Paper ::

So this week, I have been intrigued by vintage posters and print. Here are some of my favorites from King Paper!

dance ruth

Ruth St Denis, was one of the pioneers in early modern dance, whose students include the famous Martha Graham, and was also known for her "oriental" productions. I've always wished I had the opportunity to watch one of her performances. I really am born in the wrong era!

goblin market

The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti and illustrated by Arthur Rackham. I first came across Rackham's work when I was doing some research on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I love his paintings, and according to Wikipedia, Rackham had invented his own technique of photographic reproduction, first using pencil to sketch an outline, before filling in with pen and india ink. When working with colour, he would apply multiple washes of colour until transparent tints were created. I love the ethereal quality of his paintings! There are many more Rackham prints in King Paper's Etsy store.

beatrice bobs

This one just reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Bernice Bobs Her Hair. He is one of my favourite writers. Short stories are not really my thing, but I enjoyed Fitzgerald's collection. Time for a re-read!

They're offering a Buy 2 get 1 free promotion so go check it out! *excited*

Friday, May 13, 2011

For all you fabric hoarders out there...

Sharing a fun giveaway I found while blogsurfing.

Fat Quarter Shop is doing a weekly giveaway this month, click on the button below to find out how to enter!

Moda Giveaways all Month!

This week's giveaway ends May 17th midnight EST. Am loving the fabrics I find in the Fat Quarter Shop!!! I found some cool Dr. Seuss ones and take a look at this fat quarter collection! Too CUTE!

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