Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thrifting: Prints for the home!

Our walls are looking a tad plain. I think it's about time to dress them up.
Found the above image on, which by the way is a great site for color palette inspirations, go check it out!

My living room walls are a shade of forest green like the first color in the palette above, and the craft room is a pebble gray like the 3rd color.

I was hunting out frames for some pictures/ paintings/photos i already own and found this set at Goodwill today.


I think I love them on the green walls! And I love the gardening theme too! We got a seed catalogue in the mail and they have some lovely full page photos of fruits and vegetables that I might want to cut out, mount and frame. I'm keeping a look out for pictures/photos of birds / mushrooms / plants for the house. Here are some on the wishlist!

mushroom mend
peacock kitchen


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Story behind the Chocolate-Cake-Recipe-for-Dummies.


Tried and tested. And true.


So the story begins like this.

Last month, I was home in Singapore for my mother's birthday. I decided I wanted to do something special this year. Instead of getting her a present, I was going to do the un-thinkable -- bake her a cake!

Now, if you know me, or have read my past cooking entries, you know that I dread cooking. I like to eat, don't get me wrong, but I like to have food appear magically in front of me, piping hot and ready for chow. In return, I am most willing to do the clean up, however big the mess in the kitchen. And if you've seen the J-man cook, you'll know I REALLY am game to clean up.

So back to the story. I embarked on this lofty grand plan of baking a cake, but i really wanted the simplest possible recipe. I consulted my long-time food provider P (ie my ex-housemate), i researched the internet and finally settled on this Chocolate Cake recipe. Chocolate. Everybody likes chocolate right? Sure-win formula!

Then came the NEXT obstacle. I have not stepped into her kitchen for years. I had no clue what ingredients or equipment I needed. So i had to concoct a story. I was also going to attend my friend's wedding at about the same time as my mother's birthday. So i told my mother that I was charged with baking a cake for the bridal party. It never crossed my mind she would find it strange why they would ask a non-baker to do that, instead of just buying one.

In any case, she bought the story.

So she got out all her baking equipment, we went out shopping for the ingredients, and she even watched me while I baked!

That night, she invited our extended family over for a family reunion dinner because I haven't seen my aunts, uncles and cousins for a long time. While she was busy preparing a feast, i roped everyone in on the surprise. When dinner was over, everyone gathered in the living room while my mother was busy washing up (that woman never stops for a minute!) My uncle called out to her and told her to stop for a moment to chat. Meanwhile, I hid in my room, cake in hand, candles waiting to be lit.

When she walked out, we dimmed the lights and brought the cake to her!

She stood in front of the cake, surprised but beaming as we sang her the birthday song. When the song was done, we told her to make a wish before she blew out the candles. She closed her eyes, but after a second or two, burst into tears. Actually she bawled rather loudly, and frightened my baby niece in the process.

It was a few minutes of extreme awkwardness for everyone; and for me, it was the hardest thing to see. I tried to give her a hug but had to walk away because I was about to burst into tears myself. It was supposed to be a joyous celebration! I knew in my heart what her birthday wish was -- for me to come home. It didn't help I was leaving in 2 days.

I'm still tearing as i write this :(

But, long story short. This is a really simple recipe! If i can do it, so can you! Thank god for cake mixers! I know it's not the most complicated, mind-blowing, delicious cake, but for me, it's a leap from Betty Crocker's Pre-mix brownies. Although I did use powdered sugar instead of castor sugar at one point.

The picture above was my second attempt at the recipe. Much. Better.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Traditions: Reel time!!!

Going to the movies seems like a pretty big Christmas tradition here. Everyone has a list of Christmas movies to watch whether new or old. I was driving to work a few days before Christmas and the radio DJ was talking about a top 10 all-time must-watch Christmas movies, half of which I've never heard, and almost all I've never seen!

So, while spending a lazy turkey-coma-Sunday at the in-laws, I decided i must at least watch ONE of them. Starting with A Christmas Story. Not that I would have missed it, it was playing ALL DAY on Sunday.

The movie came out in 1983 but set in the 1940s, a little boy named Ralphie tries to convince his parents to get him a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. It was such a feel-good, funny and heartwarming tale that made me go all gooey inside. But there were also hilarious moments like when Ralphie's friend's tongue got stuck to the frozen lamp post ("I triple DOG-DARE YOU!") or when Ralphie turns to the camera to give the audience a cheeky wink. I think the best part about the movie was the off-screen narration!

Then i watched Elf, starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel! Two actors i really like! Now THAT makes for a really good movie! Doesn't she look so different with blonde hair?

So two movies off my checklist. Next up -- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. And I'm saving that for a movie night with the J-man, while eating our leftover popcorn balls from the weekend.

Hope you had a great Christmas! What are your Christmas traditions and do you have a Christmas movie to recommend?

Friday, December 23, 2011

'Tis the season...

Merry Christmas dear friends!

Hope you're all having a wonderful time with your loved ones! We're going up to the mountains to visit J's grandparents, have tons of homecooked food, and sit around the bonfire. I hope it gets colder (I can't believe I'm actually saying this), but 60 deg F is NOT feeling like Christmas.
We had SNOW last year. Today, I was prancing around in a short dress and leggings.

Definitely not feeling like Christmas.


I had been busy the last coupla' days sitting around and making accessories for my girlfriends for Christmas.

On my trip back to Singapore, I bought a yo-yo maker and OMG i couldn't stop making them. They're SO EASY to make! and such a great fabric stash buster idea.

If you have no idea what a yo-yo maker is, click here, or get one and have yourself hours of fun!!!

I actually brought my hoarded stash collection of buttons from Singapore and was glad they were put into good use! I made some hair ties, brooches and head bands.


This one is my favorite. I made it for my friend's daughter and I can totally picture her wearing a white dress with that on her head! Best of all, she's a little redhead so it'll totally stand out!

Sorry, not the best pictures, i know. But i did get many appreciative oohs and aahs over the accessories! Yay!

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa's surprise?

This is going to be a morbid post.


But we found a dead mole in our driveway.


Poor buddy. R.I.P.

I hope that's not what Santa brought us this year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The latest Russell addition


Hey Don Vito! We found you a buddy! Meet Verne on the right!

Verne is only 1.5 years old, a baby by Don Vito's standard, who is 4.

Sadly, bearded dragons are solitary creatures, as we've found out the hard way. No, no animals were harmed in the process, but Don Vito put on the biggest display of dominance last night. He did multiple head bobbings, his beard turned grey in annoyance and he kept climbing on top of Verne (again, a display of dominance in not letting the bottom dragon bask).

So we separated them the very next morning.


Here is Verne, safely and happily settled in his new environment.

I hope the J-man is NOT starting a collection.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crafting: DIY Christmas wreath tutorial

Here is the simplest wreath you can ever make:

You need:


1 wreath garland ($1)

1 wreath frame ($1)
Cut branches from tree in backyard

Total Cost : $2.00
Time needed: 10mins

Wrap garland around wreath frame.
Tuck ends of garland into wrapped garland to secure.
Arrange branches of leaves and berries around the wreath.


Ready to hang!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Crafting: DIY Christmas tree tutorial

Just because we didn't get a Christmas tree for the house...


doesn't mean I can't have one!

So...I made my own DIY tree!

All you need:

1 styrofoam cone
1 styrofoam ball (or whatever tree top ornament you like)
Yarn (whatever color you desire. I stuck to traditional green)
Pearl studded pins
Styrofoam filler balls for ornaments on tree
Tree base (i used a recycled cardboard bucket turned upside down)
Cotton wool
Glue gun

To make the tree, I used the glue gun to affix yarn to styrofoam cone. Wind it from the base to the top. Set aside to dry.

Then i started making the tree top ornament, a disco ball sorta vibe. I glued sequins (one by one) all around the styrofoam ball, burning my finger tips countless times, so please be careful! You may use a pair of tweezers to help you in this process.

If you want to cover up the excess spaces in between the sequins, brush elmer's glue all over the ball (after the hot glue has cooled and hardened) and roll ball around in glitter. I didn't have any liquid glue on hand so i omitted this step.

Hot glue the ornament to the top of the tree.

Stick pearl pins and styrofoam balls randomly around tree.

Hot glue tree to base. Then glue cotton wool around base of tree to hide the tail end of yarn.



Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Recipes: Roasted Peperoncini Antipasto

O-kay. So you all know I hate cooking. But somehow, with the holiday season around the corner, i find myself looking up recipes to try out. What with all the parties going on, I have to whip up something new for each one. So. I look for the easiest recipes possible. Which means... if you hate cooking just like me, and are in need of easy recipes, i have the solution for you!


The recipe that I'm sharing today is my all time favorite Italian antipasto -- the roasted peperoncini. The J-man and I 'stole' this recipe from my ex-boss' Italian husband, who by the way, hosts the greatest Italian dinners... We miss you, Piero!!!

For this dish, I used:

6 bell peppers (red, yellow and orange)
1 can of anchovies.
1 Tbsp Capers (or as much as you wish)
Olive oil
Chopped garlic

Note: not everybody is a fan of anchovies, so use amount as desired (or un-desired) :p

Place peppers on a pan and roast them in the oven until their skins turn black. Like so.

I put my peppers in the oven for an hour at 350deg F.

Let them cool. After which, you'll have to gingerly peel the burnt outer skins off. Nobody wants to eat the burnt bits (well, except maybe me...) But guess what? I've figured out a perfect way to do it!

Pull off the top (the stalk of the peppers). They should come off very easily, now that they're soft. Turn the pepper upside down, so all the seeds on the inside drip out of the hole left by the stalk. Use your hand, or a spoon to scrape the insides of the pepper to get rid of the rest of the seeds. When that's done, peel off the skin very gently. After the 3rd pepper you should have nailed the technique.

IMG_4442 IMG_4441

Place peeled peppers in a container. Add a dash of olive oil (depending on individual taste). Sprinkle chopped garlic, anchovies and capers over. Mix well and then cover. Leave the dish in fridge to chill overnight and you're good to go!

Now wasn't that simple?

I'm taking this to my co-worker's Christmas party tomorrow night!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crafting: Handmade Christmas gifts

So i got a little ambitious and decided to make everyone a Christmas gift this year. Not that I have a huge group of friends, but having two jobs right now has exponentially expanded my circle.

I was going to make bags for the girls, but i decided that it was going to take me till Easter to complete! So, it was straight to Pinterest for some Pinspirations!

Source: via chuiying on Pinterest

Source: via chuiying on Pinterest

I decided since everyone must have a tree, that i was going to make Christmas ornaments for them, even the boys! Yay!

What are you crafting this holiday season?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

News from the (overgrown) garden: Tales of neglect

We've moved out from my in laws. Which means our garden is now 20 miles away. Which also means we're not counting on it to be watered everyday but thank goodness it's not summer now. So our fall garden has been thriving on it's own (as Mother Nature generally does).

Went back to see the in-laws last night, they got us a microwave oven for Christmas (yay!)


We went out into the garden to pick our fruits of (non) labor and found these strange looking leaves.

When we got back, J was impatiently trying to figure out what they were. He looked through pictures on the seed packets and online and couldn't for the life of him remember what he planted.

After a frustrating hour of researching on the internet... bakchoy, no. Arugula, no. The metaphorical bulb lit.


He had chopped off the tops of what were the beginnings of the beautiful heads of broccoli!!!!!

This was followed by many minutes of palm-to-face self-admonishing dismay.

Moral of the story: never neglect your plants. Or perhaps, just label them clearly.


But the carrots growing in our current backyard, in a bucket, is doing THIS well. They're the length of my palm (and if you know me, you know how small my hands are). But they're super sweet!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The necessary evil of Online shopping!

Especially if there's free shipping! Woot!

I was shopping for the J-man's Xmas presents (check!) when my itchy fingers skimmed over these websites:

Urban Outfitters

where I got us some new sheets.


J got the Amazon Prime this year and got me an iron. So here's the latest additions to the craft room:


And then i went on Etsy and found two cute vintage Coats & Clark embroidery magazines. Can you believe they used to be only 29cents each?


And i just got my groove on into making this year's Christmas presents, so busy busy times ahead!!

How's your holiday shopping getting along?

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