Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 - A Year in Review

I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas. In a blink of an eye, 2012 is coming to a close. Facebook has this "2012 - Year in Review" thing that I thought I'd take a look at, which then brought about this post.

Looking back, my year has been more fulfilling than I'd give it credit for! I didn't realise or even remember there being so many achievements I could be proud of, and moments to remember. I'd like to share them, also just so I can look back at the end of next year and be inspired.

(P.S. How meaningful too because this is my 300th post!!!)

Here we go then, 2012 -- A Year in Review!


- Scuffy -

J and I never believed it was possible to have any more room in our hearts, 
but along came this little one!

- Quilts -

From baby sized, to lap quilts, to QUEEN sized ones!

- Birding -

Played Mama Bird and nursed 3 orphaned starlings back to health

- The Color Run -
I ran 5km!

- A Myriad of Crafts -

From pomanders to aprons to my owl Halloween costume to Christmas stockings
I've grown a little braver in experimenting different types of crafts!

- Cooking -

I tried out more recipes than I care to admit! 
I'm becoming quite the little chef myself, I'd say!! 
Very impressive, for someone who hates to cook!

I hope you'd do the same and look back on your year. 
May you find lots of moments to treasure and 
May your 2013 be fruitful, filled with happiness, love and great experiences!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Celebrations : Merry Christmas!

Ho! Ho! Ho!
Scuffy wishes one and all a Merry Christmas!
This is his first ever, so he got one of his gifts early!

Our gifts are all wrapped up and ready to go!! 
We're spending Christmas at J's parents this year, on the horse ranch. 
We hope everyone has a wonderful time this special season, 
and hope to see your posts soon!

May you have a blessed Christmas with your loved ones, 
and a great 2013 ahead!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Crafting : Tis the season to be gifting!

Made a whole bunch of Christmas coasters for the co-workers.

Some more home-made ornaments for the tree

My intention was to embroider Christmas cards this year. But I only got done with one. 
And that was a birthday card for my pug-loving friend. Next year I'll start early!

2 more days to Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recipes : Chocolate Fudge for Christmas!

One week to Christmas!!!

I love and hate this holiday season because there's too much yummy goodness around to resist!

Here's one easy recipe I attempted for a Christmas party.

Caution: Super easy recipe and super addictive!



2 cups white sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease a 8x8 inch square baking pan and set aside.

Mix the milk, sugar and cocoa in a saucepan.

Keep stirring and bring the mixture to a boil.

When it starts boiling, stop stirring, and reduce heat to a simmer.

Place a candy thermometer in the mixture and cook until 238F. My candy thermometer has a marking for 'Soft Candy' at 238F. So I guess that's what you're aiming for.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and butter. Beat the mixture until the butter has melted and thoroughly mixed in. You don't want to stir it too long, because then the mixture will cool and harden.


Pour the mixture into your greased baking pan and let it cool.

When it has hardened, cut into tiny squares to serve!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Crafting : Martha Stewart's Christmas Stockings

Martha Stewart sent me an email. Oh-kay. Martha Stewart DOT com sent me an email, with a tutorial on how to make Christmas stockings. And just in time too, because this is Scuffy's first Christmas, I wanted to make stockings for our little Russell family.

This is the tutorial for her Christmas stockings. But I decided that I didn't want to make mine out of felt, so I hopped over to the craft store to get some pretty Christmas fabric and trimmings, and they were on 50% sale!!


I also added batting to my stockings, just because i like soft squishy ones.

And some pom-pom trimming to make it fun!


Ok, so the stockings didn't turn out to be too spacious, i think we can only stuff it with candy canes and perhaps gift cards. But, they look pretty neat on my hat rack!

Yay for quick and easy Christmas crafts!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crafting : Scrapbuster Pinwheel Quilt

Today I'm going to share my next December craft - a square lap quilt for cosy nights, hot chocolate and reading by the fire!

In this quilt:

1. I tried out the traditional pinwheel quilt pattern.
2. I made my own binding (2nd to date!)
3. Attempted mitered corners!
4. I refined my quilting techniques such as minimizing bunching up as I laid out my quilt sandwich.
5. This project is a good scrap buster! I used up a good bit of my scrap fabric lying around.


Assembling the pinwheel squares:

1. I cut out 72 pieces of 3 7/8" squares of plain fabric and 72 pieces of 3 7/8" squares of printed fabric.

2. Take one plain square and one printed square and align them with right sides facing.

3. Draw a diagonal line on one of the wrong sides of this pair of fabric.

4. Sew 1/4" away on both sides of this diagonal, and then cut the fabric down the diagonal.

You should get 144 squares made up of one plain and one printed fabric. This is your basic block. Now arrange them to your taste by putting 4 blocks together to create a pinwheel block, like the ones pictured above. You should end up with 36 pinwheel blocks.


Now to assemble the quilt top (all with 1/4" seam allowance):

1. Stitch 6 pinwheel blocks in a row. You will have 6 rows.

2. Then stitch the rows together. You will end up with a square quilt top, 6 blocks by 6 blocks.

And then assemble the quilt by laying the batting between the quilt top and the quilt backing, like a sandwich. The quilt top and quilt backing should have their right sides facing out.

I've learnt from past experiences to safety pin my quilt sandwich at regular intervals, all over the quilt, to prevent the batting from bunching up on the inside.

When you are sure you got your quilt sandwich laid out as flat as you possibly can, you can proceed with stitching the sandwich together to secure the batting in place.


I have chosen to stitch-in-the-ditch by sewing over the existing stitches of my blocks, so it looks like this on the back.


Align and pin the binding so the raw edges meet the edges of the top of the quilt. Start the binding on one side of the quilt, but in the middle. Leave a tail of about 5" to 8" on both ends, but leave about a 3" gap between the binding tails. Like in the picture above.

Here I'm going to attempt to explain how I miter my corners. Remember this is my first attempt:


When pinning the binding to the quilt top, leave an excess triangle when you come to a corner. This will give you enough binding to work with when you flip the binding over to the back of the quilt. Pretend you are pinching a triangular corner.

Once the pinning is done, sew the binding to the quilt top with a 1/4" seam allowance. When you reach the end, lay the two tails flat on the quilt and mark where the two ends meet. Sew the binding together (not on the quilt) at the mark, and trim off excess. Then sew the binding onto the quilt, like before, with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Trim excess batting bulk before turning the binding to the other side. I find pressing the seams as I flip the binding helps a lot!

Here's how I attack the corners. Attempt one side of the quilt at a time!
Press and fold one side of the binding down first.

Then press and fold the other side down. It should fall in place nicely!

Secure with binding clips ( or in my case, hair clips!) Then carefully hand sew, with slip-stitching, the binding to the back of the quilt!


Ta-daa! I'm ready for the cold winter nights!

Linking up to some crafty fun here!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crafting : Christmas tree Felt Ornaments

Holy guacamole! It's December already!!

I haven't been wasting any time, and have been busy crafting gifts for this holiday season, although I have a feeling I'm about to run out of steam soon! For today, I'll share my first craft of December - Christmas tree ornaments for the 3 adorable kids I help babysit.

I love felt crafts. Here is an easy one you can attempt, if you're looking for quick and easy gifts to make.


1. Make a template out of cardstock. I got mine off the internet - santa, T-rex, and owl. You can also draw your own!

2. Trace the template onto the different colored felt pieces and cut them out.

(Now I know not all the templates I provided are templates with individual pieces. With the Santa picture, I used it as a guide to draw my own template freehand.)

3. Arrange the felt pieces in a satisfactory manner, and decide how you want to attach them. I used a combination of stitching and hot glue.


Take the T-rex for example. It is only made of 2 main pieces, so I decided to blanket stitch all around. Starting in the middle at the top, I attached a ribbon (for hanging on the tree) to the felt using needle and thread, and started my blanket stitching from there.

For the Santa, I used running stitches for his eyes and mouth, before blanket stitching his beard together. This way you can hide your stitches on the inside! Then I used the glue gun to hot glue his nose to his face, and his face to his beard. Use your own discretion when putting the pieces together.

4. Finally, if you like, you can add a little stuffing to give your ornaments a 3D effect!



These ones are ready to be tossed into their goody bags! I also added fun stuff like bubbles, activity/story books, kiddy snacks and stickers! Can't wait to watch them hang their ornaments on their tree!

I'm going to make some more for our Christmas tree (when I get a break)! Meanwhile, have fun making yours!

Oh and I'm doing a button swap with Melissa Ashley of the 25th Hour. Go check out her page if you're interested in doing a button swap too!

Linking up here too! Come join the crafty fun!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Watching : Anna Karenina

I might be a little slow on the uptake, it says that the US release date was November 16th but I could've sworn I never heard about it till now! This had been on my to-read list forever, but now that it's a movie, I'm afraid i'll have to watch it first! Have you seen the size of that book??? Anyway, Jude Law is in it. So I think I'll override my usual "read-the-book-before-the-movie" rule. I totally love Jude Law! Has anybody watched it?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Recipes : Strawberry Pretzel Salad

We spent Thanksgiving with J's family up on the mountains, at his grandfather's house. I love it up there. They have no internet access, or cell phone reception so it feels like we're escaping from reality, getting away from civilization.

Instead, we spend our time playing board games, catching up with one another, cooking and preparing for the Thanksgiving dinner.

This year J and I are tasked with desserts, so he made a pecan pie, while I tried my hand at Strawberry Pretzel Salad. I don't know why they call it a salad, but it was pretty easy to make. I'll share the recipe with you today!


For the crust / base, you need:

2 cups of crushed pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter
3 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter, add it to the crushed pretzels and sugar. Mix well.
Spread mixture into a 9 by 13 inch pan and bake for 7 minutes.
Set aside and allow to cool.

For the cream cheese layer you need:

1 8oz tub of whipped topping
1 8oz package cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with the sugar.
Fold in the whipped topping evenly into the mixture.
Spread over the cooled crust, making sure there are no holes in the layer of cream cheese mixture. (This is ensure the next layer of jello/ gelatin does not seep through, into the bottom crust layer)
Refrigerate until well chilled.

For the strawberry gelatin you need:

2 pack of 3oz strawberry gelatin dessert mix
2 10oz packs of frozen strawberries
1 8oz can of crushed pineapple
2 cups boiling water

While waiting for the frozen strawberries to thaw, bring water to a boil
Dissolve gelatin mix in the water.
Allow to cool slightly.
Add the strawberries and pineapple to mixture.
Pour over the cream cheese layer.
Refrigerate until it is time to serve!!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture when I was done. But here's a picture of J's pecan pie. It's a pity I don't like pecans, so I couldn't tell you if his turned out great. But according to the family, our desserts were awesome, so yay!


If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a great one! Next up, Christmas!! Can't wait!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Found: More books!

Going on a book craze here, but found these awesome pictures on Pinterest and just wanted to share with you book buddies! Enjoy, and happy week ahead!



Now wouldn't this be an awesome nursery?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Count your blessings, and give thanks!


Today, I give thanks and count my blessings, focus on what I have, instead of what I have not. In light of the recent Frankenstorm Sandy, this Thanksgiving is made even more poignant.

I am thankful for J and Scuffy and how their presences bring so much joy into my life. This is the first thing i see when I wake up in the mornings, and it starts my day off right. I am thankful for my family here who loves me, even as my own is missing me on the other side of the planet.

I am thankful for a healthy body and a sound mind. I want to be in the best condition I can possibly be in, so I have kept alcohol consumption to a minimum, and have not touched a cigarette in the last month. It's amazing how we abuse our bodies and call them pleasures. I don't smoke a lot, but it is a bad habit I have. Whenever we go out for drinks, I find that it's nice to have a cigarette with a beer. In the last month, instead of drinking beer, I opted for sweet tea, then I don't even crave a cigarette (why didn't I think of it before!) With the holiday season coming up, it's going to be tough, but I'll be able to see how strong my determination is. I want to keep up with my yoga, to keep myself flexible and strong. I've also recently picked up running again, in hopes of building my stamina. Maybe in the coming year, my only problem would be my sweet tea addiction!

I am thankful for a roof over my head. Our water pipes burst last month, because of rust (the house is at least 60 years old). We were without running water for a week, while waiting for the plumber to fix things. I realized how comfortable and easy life is for us, living in this modern day. Imagine winters without central heating, drawing water from wells when we need a drink, reading at night without electrical lighting!

I am thankful that in times like these, I have a job, that pays me enough, to make ends meet, and a little extra for simple treats, like eating out, or buying crafting supplies to indulge in my hobbies. I am growing more conscious of the simpler luxuries in life - things that do not require much or any money to give pleasure or happiness. Taking Scuffy for walks, reading in my favorite armchair, watching birds at my feeder, a little bit of embroidery!

I wish for you, this Thanksgiving and hereafter, to be able to count your blessings, and be a little more contented with life than before.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Color Run Charlotte


We did it!
Dubbed the happiest 5km fun run, my friends and I were doused in color at every 1km of the race. And at the end, we all gathered for a final color party, throwing packets of color at one another. There was no timing, no pressure. You can walk, run or dance your way through.


My fellow color runners, team name : Your Face, Our Rear.


Rock on! See you next year Color Run!!!

*Photos courtesy of Lauren

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On the bookshelf: Holiday reads!


As an extension of my Kindle vs Paperback post,
I'm curious to know what you're reading this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is coming up. We plan to spend a quiet weekend with J's family up in the mountains. They have no internet access, so holidays spent there are always challenging. I'm so reliant on the internet for the news, finding answers to random questions, check my Facebook. Whenever I don't have the internet i'm at quite a loss!

On the upside, no internet access = more human interaction! We play board games (*gasp* remember those??), catch up with one another, and take walks outdoors.
And we'll also get the bonfire going!!

Aside from gorging myself, and watching Thanksgiving football, I am going arm myself with a few books, just in case things get a little slow and drowsy
(you know how turkey coma gets to you...)

Right now I have Pride and Prejudice and Murakami's 1Q84 on my Kindle, but I'd like to add a

(1) Science Fiction
(2) chick Lit
(3) Travel fiction / non-fiction
(4) historical fiction

to my list.

So, some suggestions pretty please?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kindle Bueno!

Hello friends,

Let's do a little survey in this post - the good ol' fashioned paperback vs the electronic readers.

I was pretty resistant to e-readers in the beginning, preferring to leaf through a book, owning actual copies, collecting books with pretty and/or vintage covers.

But then, I got a Kindle for my birthday this year.

And i'm slowly falling in love!

Can i just be a nerd in this post and list the pros and cons, the book vs the ereader?



1. I hoard books! I sometimes buy books for their beautiful covers. Like the pretty Penguin Clothbound Classics I've been drooling over...


2. I dream to one day own a little library. As a kid, I watched Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and always wished to have one of my own, complete with the gliding ladder.


3. I love the feel of a book in hand - the weight, turning pages, using a bookmark!


4. Going to the library! Well, if i can't own one, i go to one! Or a used book store!

But then the Kindle came into the picture and...

1. It's so light!! Gone are the days when my wrist gets tired holding thick book spines.

2. It holds a gazillion books! No more difficult decisions about which books to stuff in my carry-on, to bring on a short weekend getaway, on a picnic. I download a few books and then read whatever catches my fancy at the moment!

3. I know that buying e-books can be just as expensive (it's only a few dollars cheaper than an actual copy), but I can still borrow from my local library!! I don't go to the library anymore, but I loan from their digital collection. So it's free, and I can borrow and return books without having to step out of my house!

4. You can also download a myriad of apps, play games, listen to music, get on the internet. Although it's pretty simple for me, all I need are my books and Words with Friends. LOL.

So before you think I'm going over to the dark side, what matters most is that I'm still reading! I love my books, but now I love my Kindle more!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crafting : Travel map garland


No, that's not the garland I made for my sister's wedding, although it's real pretty!

Mine's even simpler -- it can be done in 1-2-3 easy steps!

You'll need:

Old maps
Ribbon / twine
Pen-knife (Exacto knife)


(1) Create a template of the shape you want your garland to be. I made triangles, but you can just as easily make hearts, or any other shape you fancy.
Trace template onto a map, and cut them out. I couldn't get a hold of older vintage looking maps, so I used an old street directory my dad wasn't using.


(2) About one inch from the base of the triangle, I used a pen-knife and made two tiny slits about an inch apart.
This is for you to thread your ribbon/twine through to string the triangles together.


(3) Thread all your shapes together, and get ready to hang your garland up!

With all the holidays around the corner, this is such a simple but great way of sprucing up your home for the festive season! You could use wrapping paper in place of the maps, and cut out some simple Christmas tree / candy cane shapes and string them up! Q.E.D!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...