Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My very first (Ahlara) Art Fair

Picture 1

So this is the reason why I have been neglecting the blog lately.


I have been spending every waking moment matching and cutting fabric, measuring, sewing, unpicking, you name it! Still production has been slow, the best i've managed was 6 pouches in a day!


When my blogger friend Jane claimed that she always aims to have at least 100 items ready for a fair, I nearly fell off my chair. To be fair, though, she is very experienced and have done this for awhile, so I am a little less stressed. (Wait! I think i can say this in French "Je suis très stressé!") Nevertheless, up to this day, I have slightly less than 50 items for sale and I have about 2 weeks. So i think I'm doing ok?

Anyway, I'm super excited for my very first craft fair and I'm hoping (crossing all my fingers) for a beautiful sunny day! I know not to set my expectations too high, and most of my friends (who are from work anyway) will probably be AT work, so i'm not expecting to see too many familiar faces...*scary*

I still have to find a way to coerce the J-man into coming to the fair with. I need some emotional support!!!

Still other news, I have a better paying job lined up for me, but it's a completely different ball game from being a museum presenter. The perk is it will eventually turn into a full-time position with health benefits. Normally, i would have turned it down without a second thought, but recently J and I have decided to move out. We found a very good deal on a house for rent. A HOUSE! not an apartment! It's 5 miles from the new job and just a mile away from the museum!! I figured i could still work at the museum during the weekends if i needed to make ends meet. Think about all the gas we'll be saving!! We'll be signing the papers on Friday, so... a lot of excitement on this end.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I've been awarded...


with a "Tell Me About Yourself Award" by Melissa of Simply, Melissa Ashley

Thank you my dear that was very kind of you!

Here are the rules of the award:

1. Say "thank you" with a linking post
2. Write 7 things about yourself
3. Give the award to 15 other blogs
4. Inform them about it!

And as I've just done a A-Z meme of myself not too long ago, i shall attempt to try and think of 7 other things. *gasp* could i really be that interesting?

So here goes:

1. i have a phobia of swimming underwater so i do not snorkel or want to ever learn how to dive. i'd rather just take many trips to the aquariums!
2. i was a SINGLE major in college. and did a major in Theatre Studies. *slacker*
3. i am an old fashioned book nerd. Real books over Kindle.
4. i failed my driver's test twice in Singapore (it's a conspiracy, don't ask) and only got my driver's license in the States about 6 months ago!
5. i secretly shop in the kids section all. the. time.
6. i'm great interacting with kids, but become a blundering dork when i have to talk to the adults.
7. i used to collect barbie dolls

And the 15 blogs this award goes out to these special friends!

1. zhing of little projects in style
2. Katie of Hazel and Mare
3. Kyla of Kyla is Inspired
4. Danielle of Tongue Tied in Awe
5. Mo of Pink Argyle
6. Liz of Unreliable Narrators
7. Jordan of Trailer Gypsy
8. Erica Leigh of Sweets and Hearts
9. Sarah of Sunlight After Rain
10. Jamie of Love in Everything
11. Catherine of Life Collection
12. KJ of Let's Go Fly a Kite
13. Jane of Projects by Jane
14. Karen of Conceptual Reception
15. Erika of A Tiny Rocket

There were a few more people i was going to include, but i know some of you in the list above will definitely get around to awarding them!

Happy week ahead my lovely friends!!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011


cauliflower soup

and i don't even cook! So you can totally master it. It's perfect for the oncoming coldness! BRRRR!

I guest posted this recipe on Tongue Tied in Awe and did a tie-in giveaway, so head on over and give me a shout-out! xoxo

But also, DO NOT forget about the September giveaway -- the pretty awesome Rainbow Winged Pegasus Brooch that ends September 30th!


Woot woot!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pandora opens the (music) box

Hello my crafty friends,

I was reading Jenny Hart (of Sublime Stitching)'s email when she mentioned that she created some playlists to share via Spotify. These are some songs that she listens to while she embroiders and that made me want to find out:

what do YOU listen to when you are crafting?!

I keep all my music on an external hard drive, so i have to plug that into my laptop whenever i want to listen to music. Sometimes, my work desk is so cluttered with sewing stuff that i have no room to accommodate even that tiny slice of hard drive. As a result, there was a lengthy period of time when i crafted without music *GASP*

...that is until i discovered Pandora. Ta-daa!!! My saviour!!! Pandora streams music and plays them back to back, occasionally peppering ads in between songs. I can handle that.

But wait. there's more!

The best thing about Pandora, is that it detects your favorite music, especially if you login with FB and if your FB profile already specifies what type of music you like. It's kinda like Genius on iTunes. If you don't like a certain song, you click on the 'thumbs down' button. Likewise, for songs you like you click on 'thumbs up". That way, it helps the program narrow down the music genres and play only songs and artists you love! Now is that smart or what???

So, please check out if you haven't already (although i know i'm probably a few years, alright, fine... 10 years too slow!) and i think it only works when you are in the US? that i'm not too sure. but check it out anyway.

So. back to my question,

what did you listen to today while working / crafting / hanging out ??

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A, You're Adorable, B, You're So Beautiful

Following Erika of a tiny rocket, here is my A-Z (just like the memes of old days). I did edit some of the questions, so feel free to change it as you like! Who wants to do this next? Drop me a note so i can come read it too!!


A. Age: 29 (GASP the big 3-0 next year!)

B. Birthplace: Singapore, but also lived in China, and now North Carolina

C. Chore you hate: Vacuuming the carpets.. now if the vacuum cleaner was less chunky and'd be a different story.

D. Dogs: A 12 yr old half deaf and almost blind boston terrier named Betty Boops. Most of the days, we call her Boopses. We also have a little 2yr old Foxton named Daisy, who thinks she's a gazelle most of the time. And a non-doggie pet bearded dragon named Don Vito, who scares the living shits out of the dogs. He rules.


E. Essential start to your day: Coffee and Checking emails BAD BAD BAD

F. Favorite Color: I LOVE THEM ALL! but i tend to steer towards bright yellows, pinks and purples, or dark browns and blues and greens (wait, that's almost ALL the colors! *tsk tsk*)

G. Gorges on: hershey's cookies and cream chocolate bar

H. Hoards: Fabric and books!

I. Instruments you play: Piano and guitar

J. Job Title: Children's museum Education Presenter

K. Kicks: my New Balances for work, and my boots and espadrilles for other occasions.

L. Last read: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

M. Music all-time fave: the Beatles


N. Nicknames: chewy, chews, chew-chew (yikes, really???)

O. Ostentatious buys: when i was a poor student, an Anna Sui bracelet! and the last one that i can remember, a Chloe Dao dress.

P. Phobias: the zipper (yes it's back!), heights, claustrophobia!

Q. Quote of the day: “Laughter is the best medicine" (actually that's one motto i live by)

R. Random fact: i am VERY stubborn. je suis têtu ( i just learnt that!)

S. Siblings: 3 younger sisters... who happen to be a set of triplets!

T. Things that tick me off: parents who don't teach their children manners

U. Underwear: I like boy shorts.

V. Vegetables you hate: Potatoes (with the exception of fries and chips. everything else is too starchy) I love everything else, even okra.

W. Word of the day: CURMUDGEON (now it's your job to go check it up!)

X. X-rays you have: general checkups i took yearly in china. so that makes 4?

Y. Yummy food that you make: I just tried out the J-man's grandma's cauliflower soup recipe!! it was AWESOME! post to follow!

Z. Zoo animals: I love the elephants and giraffes, penguins, baby animals and birds like owls and flamingoes


And to tie in with the museum's theme in September "ABCs and 123s", here's one of my favorite Perry Como songs done by Sesame Street. Can it ever get better than this???

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Found: What to look forward to in the fall!

1. Halloween!!

2. Long socks, scarves and boots

3. Soups and broths

4. Blue Ridge Parkway and its changing colors

5. Bonfires!

This week the temperatures dipped. I pulled out my knitted hoodies and long socks. I can't wait to do a wardrobe overhaul! What are you looking forward to this fall???

Friday, September 16, 2011

Help wanted!

Good morning lovely people,

I need your help!

So I am planning for the museum school curriculum again and this time I am tasked with ...

"International play" - games children play all around the world.

Now if you'd be so kind to tell me where you are from and describe a few games you've played as a child, i would appreciate it very muchly!!!

You can leave a comment below, or you can email me at

granolabar [at] gmail [dot] com

I appreciate your feedback!

On a side note: check out the miniature wooden sewing machine in the picture above! so cute!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Etsy Pick of the Week and Spreading Good Cheer Giveaway September: le animalé

Of course it's the elephant right?

In this week Etsy Pick's I bring you Laura Johnston, owner of the Etsy store le animalé. With animals as her central theme, Laura makes cute little clay animal totems, animal jewelery, and paints original animal art on cards, notebooks and more! Since I adore animals too, if you couldn't already tell from the name of my blog, I decided she would be this week's feature! But mostly because her animal totems are too stinkin' cute!!!! And so tiny! Can you imagine molding each one from clay and then hand painting them? *sweats*

This little lady is also from *drum roll* you guessed right, North Carolina. She is based in Raleigh where the J-man hopes to go to school one day. I just found out she is going to pursue her MBA from the same college! If fate allows, we might get to meet up one day!

Meanwhile, read more about Laura, her Etsy store and her upcoming projects!


1) How did you get started with making clay animal totems. What is the background story?

The background story of le animalé. Well, I have always loved animals and I have always loved creating. When I was younger the first thing I always told people I wanted to be 'when I grow up' is a veterinarian. Over time I realized that I have an incredible passion for art, but not so much for science. Fast forward to the past few years: I've had this idea of wanting a miniature zoo (what would be cuter than a zoo full of miniature animals?!). Since I can't make that happen with real animals, again science is not really my thing, I decided to create the closest thing possible with sculpture and art: le animalé. It also coincided with my love for gifts & gift shops; I like thoughtful things that can brighten someone's day. What better than animals??


2) Just because I love elephants, I have to ask... What is your favorite animal and have you done a totem of it? If you have, was it difficult to mould it your standard of perfection?

My favorite animal has always been the cheetah. I have so many favorites, but the cheetah is my 'spirit animal' that I connect with the most. I have not done a cheetah totem yet.. partially because I want to keep it and I haven't had time to make something for myself, but also because I want to create it perfectly and I guess that thought, since it's my favorite animal, has been a little daunting. It will happen at some point, though.


3) What is the creative process behind your clay animals?

As far as choosing the animal goes, sometimes I just go through my brain and pick ones at random. My friends will send me animal photos they come across and sometimes those will inspire me. I also follow a couple of animal blogs and will get ideas from there as well. Once I choose the animal, I jump straight in on sculpting it (sketches of how I want it to look are basically done in my head). If it's one thing about me and my creative process, it's that when I get an idea, I just make it happen without a lot of planning and fuss. Once the animal is sculpted, I bake it so it hardens, and then it is painted with little tiny brushes and acrylic paint. Once the painting is all done I sign the bottom, and finish it up with a couple of coats of protective varnish. Totems take a few hours to create, and the time varies a bit from animal to animal.


4) Tell us more about Marshmallows for Paws!

Marshmallows for Paws is my brand new project! I wanted to do something that would allow me to give back to the community, and especially after searching for my second dog last year and visiting lots of shelters, I decided to donate to animal rescue efforts. It's only fitting, after all. I chose marshmallows because they are fun, versatile, unexpected, and the shape is easier to recreate by hand than most animals (since the goal is to sell multiples of them, not just one like most of my totems). Looking at the different marshmallows you will find fun little ''fortune'' descriptions and a place to customize with your own message or quote. They are a super fun & unique gift idea, or can serve as a great way to carry around a little reminder to yourself. I am donating 25% of the proceeds from every marshmallow sold to the Wake County Animal Shelter in Raleigh, NC.

5) What other items do you have up for sale in your Etsy store, and what are your future plans for it?

In addition to totems, my shop has original illustrations, brooches and jewelry, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, and inspirational hand painted Moleskine notebooks. I've also just started a daily illustration project, so you will be able to find more illustrations in my shop very soon. And as the holidays approach, I will be listing more Christmas ornaments. Lastly, I have some gift sets of magnets that I will be listing within the next month. So there will be lots new to check out soon! :)

You can keep up with my work and adventures on my blog, chat with me on Twitter, or join me on Facebook.



And now for the giveaway for September....

Anybody else who thinks this Rainbow Winged Pegasus brooch is super adorable, please raise your hands!

Or better yet, leave a comment below for a chance to win this giveaway.

For additional entries, you may leave another comment below if you...

1) Are a follower of this blog
2) Like Laura Johnston's Facebook page
3) Tweet about this giveaway: @punkychewster September giveaway: UBER cute Rainbow Winged Pegasus Brooch up for grabs! You got a minute to win it?
4) Blog about this giveaway and include link in your comment.

This giveaway ends September 30th, 11:59pm ET, and is open to international readers too! A winner will be chosen at random and notified by email, so please do not forget to leave your email address in your comments! Good luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Crafting: Rounded zipper handy organizer tutorial

Since I lost my last camera pouch, and got myself a nice new free phone for switching to Verizon, i decided to try something that I've wanted to attempt for a long time. Zippers have begun to lose their terrorizing hold on me, so this morning i attempted a quick craft before heading out the doors to nanny my cute little D.

I've been wanting to try a pouch this shape with a zipper enclosure.

round pouch

Back then i haven't gotten over zipper phobia.
10 or more zippered pouches later, i think i am ready.
So here is a rough rounded zippered pouch tutorial today. Advice and constructive criticisms are always welcome! :)

First here are all the supplies you need:


Spool of thread (your desired color)
A pair of scissors
Zipper (mine is 8")
Drafted paper pattern (mine measures 7" tall x 5.5" wide)
2 pcs of outer fabric
2 pcs of inner lining

Cut out the last 2 items from your drafted pattern.

1. Pin outer fabric and inner lining together, wrong sides together. Sew running stitch around edges. Repeat with other side. Serge or zigzag the edges to prevent from fraying.


2. Pin zipper around the rounded edge of the pouch carefully. To make sure it's centered, i marked the center of the pouch and the center of the zipper, lined them up and started pinning outwards from the center. Make sure you lay the zipper face down on the right side of the outer fabric. Sew close to zipper teeth. Repeat with other side.


3. You will end up with this when the zipper is open.


4. To prevent the zipper from catching the fabric when you zip and unzip the pouch, press and sew the edges between the fabric and the zipper on the right side. Repeat with other side. I forgot to do it with my pouch, but i thought i'd better add in this step in this tutorial. You can see what i mean in the very LAST picture of this post.

5. Leave the zipper open midway. Line the two sides (right sides together) so that all ends match. Pin. Carefully sew around the 3 sides that is not lined with the zipper. I started from one zippered end and sewed into the pouch and then all around, finishing the same way i started on the other end. Sew along the blue lines and dotted lines above, starting from the horizontal. Press seams all round.

sew edges

6. Cut away the two corners, so when you turn it out, there's less bulk. Turn it out and voila!



I am using this as a pencil case.

This is my new camera case/ phone pouch! Yes, it's roomy enough to fit them both!!! BAM!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Football is BACK!

Happy Sunday football everyone! 
Look what I found! This is pretty dang cool!


Images via

Da Bears!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival


I am officially homesick!

This is what is happening around the corner.
Firstly, on September 12, it is my dad's birthday. He is 58 this year (OMG! it never really sunk in how he is going to be the big 6-0!) In my mind, he is 48 going on 50.

On the very same day, it is also the Mid-Autumn Festival, a harvest festival some 3000 years ago, which evolved to become a day of family reunions (much like Thanksgiving). The Mid-Autumn Festival takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. On this day, the moon is at its fullest and roundest.

Many legends revolve around this festival, the most popular being the Chinese empress who sacrificed herself by taking the elixir of life before the tyrant king had a chance. She floated away to the moon where she lived forever, lonely and miserable, with only her pet rabbit as company.

As i type this, i have a strange feeling I've blogged about the festival one year ago... I probably did, but i really miss home when this time comes around. Not to mention the traditional mooncakes that families gift to one another. These pastries are stuffed with red bean paste, lotus seed paste, and in these modern times, even ice cream (which i luuuuurrrve!)

Click on the above image to find a link to a mooncake recipe. I'm still wondering if i am brave enough to attempt...

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival m'dears! May you have a lovely reunion with your loved ones this day!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Found: Things that make me smile

My list goes like this: 

 stitching pretty patterns by hand 
a baby laughing 
reading in bed 
coffee brewing in the mornings 
a meal of buffalo wings 
munching on home grown food 
the smell of rain 
cuddling in bed 
toes in warm sand 
a deep back s-t-r-e-t-c-h 

What are some of your best things in the world?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

News from the garden: Feeding the goldfinches...


with fresh sunflower seeds!

As i drink my coffee in the mornings, I watch the little finches perch and nibble at the flowers. I didn't know a single sunflower plant could yield so many blooms! I think our sunflower variety is the smaller kind, i would have preferred big big blooms. It's amazing how plants support themselves upright. This one must have an extensive underground network of roots! I feel like it is about to topple any moment, but every morning it never fails to surprise me that it is STILL standing!

 In other news,


our fall garden is in the works. There are plans for 3 types of broccoli, more squash, cauliflower, bak choy and more. We also bought a big tub for growing carrots. The North Carolina soil (aka red clay) hardens too easily for the carrots to grow. Our potatoes were TEENY this summer, so we decided to try growing the carrots a different way.

 Let's see how the fall garden takes off!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Winner of August Good Cheer Giveaway!

swirl winner

Picture 1

Congratulations Mo!!! You are the lucky winner of Sarah Henessey's set of notecards!! Please send me an email at granolabar [AT] gmail [DOT] com with your mailing address. I will also notify you via email. Thank you for participating!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Found: Bumps and babes

Recently, many friends and family members have been popping little ones left and right. On Facebook the other day, one of my old school mates congratulated a new (mutual friend) mom with "Welcome to the club!"

I feel kinda left out. :p

Not that I'm planning to have one any time soon. Although working at the children's museum does seem to make the bio clock tick faster. My favorite section is the 'I Can Grow' area, for babies and toddlers under the age of 3. Seeing those chubby little cheeks, arms and legs makes me want to chomp on them. I love babies, but I don't know if i'm ready for one of my own.

I came home from a friend's farewell dinner. She is about 3 months' preggers and it was totally unplanned. She is engaged but not married. Her family is very traditional so she got it really bad when they found out. I am very excited for her but a little sad at her family's reaction. My mother-in-law would give anything to have grandbabies NOW, and yet another woman would suffer such grief over the beginnings of a new life. I tried to reassure her that when the baby is born, relationships will be mended. But for now, she is leaving her family and moving to Florida to be with her fiance.

I do wonder from time to time if my turn would ever come. But as I sat in meditation the other day, I had a sudden revelation. A thought popped into my head that said that I would be contented and happy even if i didn't have any children in this life. My yoga class that day had been about finding out who we are. And as I focused on that thought, this was what came about. I had no clue why of all things would I think that, but it is what it is. I think i feel a little more at ease with this knowledge. It takes away all the panic at the back of my mind, about family planning, about where to raise my children, about familial pressures. I don't think this means I've ruled out having children, just that at this present moment, motherhood is the furthest thing on my mind.

I didn't think one little image on Pinterest would spark off the ensuing post, but there it is. On another note, if you have a Pinterest account, add me too!
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