Saturday, September 29, 2012

on the cost of looking good

Lanvin evening satin broiderier paillettes clutch; yours for only $2,350.

Our local paper has this supplement thing they put out weekly which just, well, just bugs me. They call it "Urban; A guide to looking good", and the name alone seems to capture all the shallow, frivolous ostentatiousness of a modern, moneyed lifestyle, caught up in luxuries and externals.

Don't get me wrong -- I am daily thankful for all the urban comforts we enjoy, but at the same time, I can't help feeling that there's this intangible point, where basic comfort and well-being gets enmeshed with excessive vanity, pretentiousness and extravagance.

Most of us use some sort of moisturiser, for example, but how many of us use Peter Thomas Roth's $120 Laser -Free Resurfacer, or better yet, Dr Brandt's $190 Crease Release with Gaba & 3D Lift (Gaba? 3D Lift?). And oh! I see here there's something called Sampar Glamour Shot Eyes for $447 -- now, that has got to work.

These wondrous items were among a bunch featured in a write-up on "skincare potions which promise to turn back time instantly". Testers had even been roped in to try the things and give their verdicts (I was intrigued to read that while Sampar Glamour Shot Eyes "impressed" one lady, "the fine lines reappeared once I stopped using the product". Well, never mind! The readers who were seduced by this profound article can just shell out another $447. And another...). I have to say at this point that I think my $13 L'Oreal moisturiser works pretty good.

Then there's this thing they have called "Beauty Secrets". I think magazines like Vogue and such have similar features, where they ask some possibly famous, but clearly affluent, person what they use to look so amazingly good.

Invariably, I find these are people with money to burn; therein lies their real "beauty secret" I think, not the fact that they use $260 Hermes perfume or that, in answer to the question "What's the most ridiculous thing you have ever done in the name of beauty", they "flew to Paris for a weekend because my friend told me about a very good hairdresser based there... I spent about $1,000 in total on the air tickets and haircut" (she did add, "I never went back; it was too expensive to fly to Paris on a regular basis just to cut my hair". Yeah, y'think? Well, doing it once is ok, I guess).

Then there's "Style Watch". Have you seen Fashion Police? It's this show where Joan Rivers and a bunch of other hosts give their largely negative, scathing opinions on celebrity fashion. Well, "Style Watch" is like a tiny printed version of that. Except the people doing the critiquing are even less qualified than Joan Rivers to judge, if that's possible. The feature shows some celebrity in two different outfits, and the writer -- who will probably never have to deal with even an iota of that continual pressure to look perfect in the public spotlight, and who will likely never say such things to the person if they were ever to meet -- goes into this detailed analysis of what they're doing right or wrong.

I don't know; all this stuff just bugs me. I recall they even had this segment where they'd take pictures of people at parties (for some reason it's not in this latest issue) -- young people at the height of their looks -- and ask them what they were wearing, and how much it cost. Each mini-interview would end with the question, "Do you think you're good-looking?", and ask them to rate their looks on a scale of 10. And there'd always be people happily posing and answering this stuff. Like, ??!

You might have read my post on beauty here. In it, I quoted Thoreau: "The perception of beauty is a moral test". All this judgment and criticism; this perpetuation of shallow, mistaken notions; superficial, illusory standards requiring wealth that a large percentage of the world's population can ill afford; why do we support these things?

I'm not referring solely to that silly supplement now -- for that is thrust upon us whether we like it or no -- but to other "fashionable" publications that many otherwise decent people purchase with monthly zeal and regularity. A $1,200 Sacai cardigan? Valentino boots for $1,500? A Celine clutch for $2,450? Articles on diets, plastic surgery, starting anti-aging regimens younger... ad upon ad of all the potions you need to save your decaying self, at $100, 200 a pop.

If you actually had $2,000 to spare, could you really purchase that Celine purse with a clear conscience? Don't get me wrong; I'm all for enjoying beautiful clothing and accessories, and treating oneself every now and then, but $2,000? If you actually could fly to Paris for a haircut, would you? When there are causes like this in the world?

As the apostle Peter wrote: "Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;

"But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Pet 3:3-4).

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," it says in Luke 12. What's the most expensive thing you've ever put on your face or body? For me, it might be my $80 Levi's jeans (I've since found $30 ones from Old Navy which I love). Or my old $150 boots. What about you?

"The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

Friday, September 28, 2012

more Tabby

shop custom3b

Custom Tabby satchel for a sweet little girl in Pennsylvania. I shall be working on a Tabby with grey markings next; I'm excited to see how he turns out! I've also put up a listing for custom Tabbies here :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


behe blog1

Behemoth is back in the shop, just in time for Halloween! Behemoth is really a happy fellow who loves lounging about on things and saying "Raaagh". A perfect companion with whom to watch scary movies and share Marmite toast :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The BLOG 5 Awards

Could this lady possibly get any sweeter? Cynthia of Antiquity Travelers has actually created five new blog awards which she -- and her six co-hosts, of whom I'm one -- will be giving out  through a blog hop linky! Each of us -- Kashmira, Gloria, Alicia, Christine, Therese, Cynthia and myself -- will be giving the awards on our own blogs; we've chosen bloggers whom we believe best represent one of the five categories. When a blogger is given one of the awards, we are inviting them to join the hop and continue building a linky group of awarded bloggers.

Well, in considering all the blogs I read -- and trust me, this was not easy; everyone is so creative and talented! -- I realised that I tend to read blogs that fall into three of the five categories: Artistic, Style and Journalistic. So, I shall be giving awards in these three areas.

First up, ARTISTIC:

1022 Sea Shell Ave.  Have you seen this lady's work?? Exquisite seashell art and jewelry, and other sea-inspired goodies for the home; Kim's blog is a treasure-chest of nautical creativity.

Chelsea Art Designs  Chelsea is an artist, designer and crafter, and I love seeing her spirited, vibrant work on her blog. Chelsea says she uses every possible chance she gets to be creative, and you can see that in her paintings and art journalling.

Piaroms Art  This beautiful blog showcases Conny's vivid, expressive work; her fluid lines and kaleidoscopic symbolism remind me of Klimt and Khnopff, plus I get to practice my German!

Next, STYLE:

Always Crave Cute  How can you resist a title like that? Diane's blog has the sweet, gentle beauty of a bygone time; her photographs and vintage treasures -- which are also available in her lovely Etsy shop -- make for a delightful, nostalgic read.

Georgia Girl With An English Heart  This blog is the sort that makes you think of sipping iced tea on the porch and just gazing out over the lake. Kay's breathtaking pictures and thoughtful, evocative writing make this blog one of my daily reads.

Life On Churchill  Julia has a background in product design, and you can see her aesthetic sensibility in her gorgeous blog. She has an eye for both vintage and modern home design, and her two adorable kids just add to the blog's coolness.

Last, but certainly not least, JOURNALISTIC:

Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl  There is such a poetic beauty in Beth's eloquent, impassioned writing. Beth lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, so you can expect exquisite photographs as well.

Jacob's Limp  Bold, inspired, honest and erudite -- Pastor Ronnie's blog is a must-read by anyone, Christian or not, who's aiming to live higher and deeper.

Plowing Through Life  Martha's blog is another one of my daily must-reads; humourous and thoughtful, profound and joyful, Martha shares her beautiful, heartfelt way of living life one day at a time.

Now, here are THE BLOG HOP RULES (I must admit to being completely new to blog hops, so I shall have to rely on Cynthia's words here): There are no rules, but we do have some suggestions. These awards were designed to point out some of the great blogs out there. And you can choose to pass on your award to as few, or as many as you like. So if you've been tapped on the shoulder and given one of these awards, we would love to see you display it proudly on your blog. Join the blog hop and show off that lovely blog of yours. We would, of course, love to hear why you like to blog, and why you chose a fellow blogger for an award. So let's get hopping!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sylvanian Chronicles

In giving Rebecca her first blog award the other day, I was reminded of a recent post she'd written that had tickled me when I first read it, and which I just thought I'd share with you now :) As you may know, B is a Sylvanian Families collector (she just recently turned 8, if you were wondering). Do pop by her blog if you've a moment; I know she'd welcome new readers and followers ;)

Actually, reading it again now, I'm thinking I might occasionally include her "Sylvanian Chronicles" here haha; after all, I'm sure you're dying to know what happens next! There's nothing quite like a child's imagination to put a little smile on one's face -- have a lovely, blissful weekend everyone!

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Today Mrs Seadog is taking the patio class. She is giving Lucy Polar Bear, Harland Sheepdog, Hester Honeyfox and Felix Renard extra tuition in fractions (Harland has gone over to Mrs Beagle's class just to listen to Ellis Elephant's presentation on yogurt. He still can't believe it is made with bacteria). Mrs Seadog says that the word "fractions" comes from the Latin word "fractus", which means "broken". The kids were confused about all the different types of fractions and Mrs Seadog is trying to explain. She always uses the example of a pizza.

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Here you can see the kids! Hester Honeyfox is starting to think she understands what a denominator is. Felix Renard is thinking that since he broke his arm last month, it is still only a fraction of how strong it used to be. Lucy Polar Bear is raising her paw to ask Mrs Seadog to use cakes to explain what mixed fractions are. Harland Sheepdog is thinking she should use real cakes.

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Here are Jemima Kangaroo and Iris Smoky Cat having their late morning snack. They had had chess practice early in the morning and hadn't had time for breakfast (and you know breakfast is the most important meal of the day!). Iris is saying, "It's true, 'gnu' is pronounced 'noo'!" and Jemima is saying, "Really! I wonder what they have the 'g' there for then". 

Tune in next time for the next part of my Sylvanian story!


triple award 

O wow, more wonderful awesomeness. The super lovely and talented Cynthia of Antiquity Travelers gave me these awards, and did some amazing features not only on me, but six other brilliant artists as well -- thank you so much Cynthia; I'm so honoured to be included! Cynthia's blog is a wellspring of creativity and inspiration, and this is just a tiny sampling from her lush shop on Etsy -- feast your eyes!

Clockwise from top left: 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Liebster Award

the-liebster-award (1)

About a month ago, Evi at Sexta-feira was so kind as to give me a Liebster Award -- thank you so much Evi! Evi is Greek, and teaches English as a foreign language in Greece; her beautiful blog is full of breathtaking photographs of her travels.

Well, part of receiving this award involves sharing 11 things about yourself,
and answering 11 questions posed by the giver, so I knew I had to make time to do this properly!
So OK, here goes -- 11 things about myself:

1. I love to dance.
2. My first dog was a massive black Lab/German Shepherd cross -- we grew up together and I still miss him deeply.
3. I brought a book with me when I went into labour for the first time, thinking I might get bored waiting. Boy, was I mistaken.
4. I love pasta.
5. All the dolls in our house have their own distinct personality and I frequently voice them for the kids.
6. I am greatly fascinated by shipwrecks.
7. I enjoy watching Titanic repeatedly, but only after they hit the iceberg.
8. Some of my favourite flowers are lupines, peonies and heliotropes.
9. I enjoy watching Gladiator repeatedly, but only to the point when Maximus growls, "I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next". Whoooa.
10. I actually find Andy Stanley kinda cute.
11. My favourite ice-cream flavour is banana.

And now, my answers to Evi's questions:

1. Which is the most boring book you've ever read?
Twilight. I read it just to find out if the hype was really deserved.
2. Which movie made you cry your eyes out?
Charlotte's Web.
3. Do you like "Friends" and if you do, which character do you identify with?
I do not like "Friends" at all.
4. What do you find more relaxing, going camping or staying at a 5-star hotel?
Camping if it's fall; a 5-star hotel if it's London.
5. What's the ideal way to spend a work-free day?
Hanging out with my kids, doing whatever they want.
6. Coffee or tea?
Tea please!
7. What's the best present you've ever received?
My kids.
8. Have you ever been given a really bad haircut and how did you react?
O yes. My mother did it. I cried. Hard. I think it scarred me for life.
9. What color is your car?
Champagne. Well, it's sort of an old-man-frosty-beige.
10. When's your birthday?
I'm already middle-aged; I can't remember.
11. Do you use a camera or your cell-phone to take pictures?

And now, the Liebster Award goes to...

And my 11 questions are:
1. What do you spend the most money on?
2. What is your least favourite food?
3. Where would you like to live?
4. The last time you said "I love you" was... ?
5. Do you believe in reincarnation, and if so, what do you think you'd come back as?
6. The last thing you do at night is... ?
7. What is one of your greatest achievements?
8. Who was your first celebrity crush?
9. What are you reading now, and is it any good?
10. You think insects are... ?
11. What's your idea of a perfect breakfast?

I hope you have fun with this, but as I always say, don't worry if you haven't the time or inclination; I'm just acknowledging your coolness! Drop me a line if you need copies of anything in this post. Have a super lovely day :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

on family, and conflict

gorey blog
From The Doubtful Guest, by Edward Gorey

OK, remember my last post on Andy Stanley's series Future Family? Well, part 3 is a killer. People, if you ever have conflict in your family -- and that's about all of us, I think -- I urge you to listen to this. I have extracted some of it here for those of you who haven't the time, but really, it's only about 40 minutes long, and would be so well worth it (the entire message is here).

As I'd written in my last post: "However difficult or painful things may be, most of us do want our families to work, to be held together by love and peace, not compulsion, fear or obligation. For many of us who are parents especially, we want to do well by our children, we want to avoid repeating the mistakes of our pasts".

Pastor Andy begins: "The only thing we probably all have in common when it comes to family is conflict. When you win an argument in your family, you don't really win anything. You feel good because you out-argued the other person, but there's no win and so the conflict is never fully resolved.

"Conflict in family is like conflict nowhere else; it is so complicated, so emotional, it just seems to go on and on and on... And part of what makes it so complicated is we don't process conflict the same way as individuals... Some of us are "peacemakers"; peacemakers won't even argue [though there are real issues to resolve]... There's "the sulker"; they're just down... Then there's "the stuffer"; that's the person where [you ask] 'Is everything ok?' 'Yes. Fine'.

"Then there's "the litigator"; you're like the best arguers; you always win, you're never wrong... Then of course there's "the screamer"; they're just people who have to yell. If your family of origin was where everybody yelled, chances are you married one of these other types of people, [though] probably not a litigator, 'cause they can get the volume up... And do you remember the first argument you had? You yelled and your husband or wife looked at you like, "Demon, come out!" And your words weighed a thousand pounds; you just
crushed them...

"Even though there are many version of people and approaches to conflict, there's really only one
source of conflict in family. If everybody in your family can wrap their brains and their hearts around this one single idea, the tension, the tone, the conflict level in your family will decrease, almost instantaneously.

"To help us explain it, I'm going to call upon Jesus' brother, James. He begins with this question: "What causes fights and quarrels among you?" If you were to ask [your family members], immediately we'd go into blame. It goes back to, "If everybody would just sit down and do what I tell them, there would be peace in the family"... As long as you blame others for your unhappiness, you will always be unhappy.

"Every single time you blame, here's what you do: You take your happiness, and you hand it to the person that you're in conflict with. As long as you are caught in this death cycle of "If you", "If you would stop", and "If you would start", "If you, if you...", you are basically taking your happiness and you are handing it off to the person you're in conflict with. And you're saying, "I can't be happy until you do something differently".

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?" (James 4:1). [James says], "Ultimately, don't your fights and your quarrels come from something that's inside of you?" See, I want to say, "No, the cause is because of something inside of them". [James says], the source of all your fights and quarrels is something inside of you -- you have a desire in every single conflict, a desire in you that is spilling out on the people around you. There is a conflict within you that is creating conflict with people around you.

"You desire but do not have, so you kill" (James 4:2). Every time there's a conflict, you want something. Sometimes there are things that you want so badly, that you are willing to hurt the people you care about the most in order to get what you want.

"Some of us have seen parents kill their relationships with their kids because their kids wouldn't do what the parents wanted. Some of you left home at 18 or 19 because you could not stand to be around your parents. But if I were to interview your parents, the bottom line would be that they wanted you to be something, they wanted you to behave a certain way, they wanted you to do something... and there was something you wanted your parents to do, or stop doing, and they just wouldn't, and it killed the relationship.

"We've seen men power up and destroy a woman's self-esteem. We've seen people belittle and criticise people to the point where they have no confidence in themselves; shame their children till they're almost afraid to be around them; we've seen women who have such high expectations of their daughter that their words just destroy what's going on in the heart of their daughter...

"When you want something from someone, and you want it bad enough and you lose perspective; in your desire to get what you want from them, out of them; oftentimes you want something from them so you'll feel better, prouder, because you think you'll be happier or more fulfilled... When we want something bad enough,we have the potential to destroy that other person.

"You've seen it so many times, and unfortunately, some of you are in the process right now of doing that very thing. And here's how we defend it: "But I just want the best for him or her. But I just want my wife to reach her full potential... And you lie to yourself, because it's not really about them, it's about you...

"The whole time you're arguing, fussing nagging, belittling; the whole time you're going in their room and doing things, the whole time you're leaving those notes, you're telling yourself, "It's them, it's them, it's them". And James says, "No, it's you, it's you, it's you".

"You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight" (James 4:2). If, in the middle of a conflict, you can pause and take a deep breath and recognise , "Part of what I'm feeling right now is I'm not getting what I want" -- that is a game changer... As soon as you own even part of the problem, the temperature level, the tension decreases.

"You do not have because you do not ask God" (James 4:2). Did it ever occur to you that before you went storming down the hall, or you fired off that note... Has it occurred to you that before you go extracting something from someone else for your benefit, to pour out your heart to God and say, "God, there's something I want from my husband, my kids, my wife, my father, my mother... and I'm not getting it"...

"Usually when I pray for these people, it's like, "God, would You please make them do the stuff I think they should do". James is going, has it ever occurred to you that what you want, you aren't getting, because you're trying to squeeze it out of someone who doesn't have it in them to give you?

"When you bring these things to God [first], the conversation goes better, because you begin it knowing, Part of this problem is, I'm not getting what I want and I'm beginning to understand that part of what I want, you don't even have to give, and here I've been trying to wring it out of you...

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3). If you will allow God to really grapple with you at the level of what is it that you want or expect... And at that point you go back to God and say, "OK, I don't think she has it in her to give me that... He's not going to turn out like I want him to turn out... We always said you were going to be a doctor... All that stuff we do with kids...

"[James says] Have you taken this to God? And can you take 'No' for an answer? Can you own your part of it? And then perhaps begin the conversation at a different place, refusing to hand them the responsibility, the pressure, to make you happy...

"Who in your family is suffering because you aren't getting your way? Who in your family feels the pressure to change, to behave, to start, stop, work harder... Who is feeling that pressure? You have some 21, 24-year-old kids still trying to make you happy, and that's your issue, not theirs. Who out there is suffering because you refuse to own the fact that this has more to do with you than it does with them.

"And what could you do today -- through a letter, an email, a phone call, a lunch, an appointment -- to begin to take that unnecessary and inappropriate pressure off of them. In the ideal family, in the family where men and women really are seeking to know God and follow Christ, there is a pause before the storm... There is a come-to-God moment...

"God do in me what You need to do in me, before I try to squeeze out of the people I love something that only You can give me to begin with".

gorey blog2

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tabby satchel


Now you can bring Tabby Cat on all your adventures! This messenger-style satchel features a carefully hand-painted Tabby Cat pocket where you can tuck in goodies like crayons, sweets, tissues, and, if you're really cool, an iPod!

I made this satchel specially for little kids; I based it on the satchels I made for my own kids to carry their books and toys and markers and things in when we go out, or to keep the things they pick up along the way -- like bank brochures! In this picture, the satchel is holding 4 hardcovers (and some crayons). Super easy to use and not at all fiddly, and I like that my kids have their hands free.

You can find this satchel here. Email me if you'd like a similar satchel in a different colour, or grown-up size :)

shop5c - blog

Tuesday, September 11, 2012





Remember what I'd said about goodie adoption heartache? Well then you can imagine my absolute delight at seeing my pins -- and even my packaging! -- on Ms Megan's lovely blog, Moonbeam Wishes. Thank you so much Megan! Megan herself is a nimble-fingered crafter; you can find these embroidered lovelies and more at her Etsy shop, Dear Moonbeams.


Clockwise from top left:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

museum fun

Here we go!

Yeah, we actually have a Philatelic Museum -- an entire building dedicated to stamps.

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Posing in front of the talking Penny Black. Yeah, it actually moves and talks -- pretty neat eh. Did you know that the Penny Black was the world's first adhesive postage stamp? Yeah, cool stamp-y history!

A dragon stamp from Poland. I'd love to make him into a softie.

Getting into the spirit of a 19th-century trading junk. This was part of an exhibition about the spice trade and colonisation.

The Heritage Room is done up like a 19th-century shophouse. We call these red wooden clogs cha kiak; they were commonly used way back when, and there still are people who use them today (like my kids!!), but the making of them is a dying art. The clogs are designed to keep the feet dry and are surprisingly non-slip; they make this distinctive clackety sound when you walk in them, which immediately brings you back to the 1950s.

B posing in front of some traditional Peranakan nyonya kebaya. Peranakan is a Malay word meaning "those born here". From about the 15th century, intermarriages between Chinese traders and local Malays created the Chinese Peranakan culture, which is a unique integration of the Chinese and Malay/Indonesian cultures. A large part of my family is Peranakan, and everyone busts out their kebayas at important dos like weddings. You can read more about kebayas here.

An old photograph of a Peranakan family. From the 1930s, I think. This was at the Peranakan Museum, which was just down the road from the philatelic one. The kids themselves were keen to go, and I thought, "Great!". I love old photographs; I imagine the sitters getting up after having their picture taken, and what they did next.

A Peranakan wedding. Children in old photographs always tend to look so mature I feel. That little girl next to the bride was a sweetie though.

Peranakans of the Straits Chinese Society Association, circa 1930. I think they all went to a tea party after this.

A New Testament Bible in Baba Malay, from 1950. Baba Malay is spoken by the Peranakan community.

A Peranakan bridal chamber.

The museum mascot. I love the way the sculptor captured the cat's natural form and grace. The plaque above him reads, "In memory of the cat that adopted this building and became the museum's mascot, 1998-1999". Well, one thing's for sure, never underestimate the enjoyment you -- and the kids! -- can get out of visiting a local museum. See more pictures here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

day out

Beam me up, Scotty.

Budding reporter. Or blogger haha.

Insects from Kolarus III.

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Avowed Star Trek fan. See more at B's blog here.


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