Blanket | Framed

I love making blanket though the time spent can be long. However, the satisfaction that comes with it when it was completed is simply wonderful. I almost wanted to keep this blanket while taking photos of it. But I am, really happy (more than that) when the recipient love it as much as I do! *Thank you, thank you for your kind words*

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It was a good experience to work with Chance of Flowers by Sandy Gervias. Love the fabrics as all complimented one another very well. Sweet, sweet and just sweet ! :D

Used the design “Framed” by Camille from one of her books, Simply Retro. I am going to try other designs that she has in the book. Will be lovely ( i imagined it).

Till the next post, stay calm and have fun stitching! ~ jean.

Penang | Tropical Spice Garden Cooking Class

During my trip to Penang last week (obviously I am still dreaming, Ha!) 2 weeks ago, I went for a cooking class. It was one of the best decision made. I have always wanted to do something different when it come to travel alone without hubby and children. Learning a new dish or two is one of the items I would love to do if time permits. Being a tourist, it is really nice to learn something new and for me, it will be cooking since I cook for the family. Reserved a place with Tropical Spice Garden under Pearly Kee. It’s a different menu every day and I chose Nyonya dishes! Just because of sambal! *mouth watering at the thought of it*

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Did you see those blue spray bottles on the front desk? It’s for us to spray on ourselves to protect from mosquitoes. Quite effecive, I must say, because I wasn’t stung by one during my walk around the garden.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Five of us in total for the class and we began with a guide introducing the herbs and spices which we will use in the class.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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In the class!!! Excited students. Can’t wait to start! :D

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I (or rather we) didn’t take photos during cooking time as all of us were too engrossed to learn how to make sambal chili. What you are going to see next will be what I had cooked in the class.

First up, Braised Chicken in claypot.  (side note: I cooked the same for my family the following week I returned home but I added potatoes and it WAS a big hit!). The spices brought out the sweet flavour and tenderness of the chicken using low, high, low fire. Most importantly,  I was taught to watch the fire and check whether the chicken has been braised to the right texture so monitoring the time and water level is important.

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What I like about the second dish is, the chili! and of course, my favorite okra. I never attempted to make chili from scratch though I love it because I find it too time-consuming but after attending the class, I changed my mind. Good stuff needs to be made from scratch and this without artificial preservatives tasted really good!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okra that doesn’t tasted slimmy but crunchy was fabulous. My hubby and kids don’t like okra just because of the texture, hard to chew and it’s SLIMMY, they said. I hope to change their mind with these one fine day :)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Third dish is, Sambal Udang (Prawns)! Making the chilli paste, cooking it till the flavour is out before adding the prawns and cooking it till it’s perfect required some skill and not rush into it. The mint leaves add to its flavour. Not spicy enough to me but just right for the other students.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had a sumptuous meal after cooking our own dishes and the beautiful view from where I was seated oversee the coast of Penang was simply beautiful. Sorry there isn’t any photo of the coast as I was too preoccupied with food and chatting with new friends.

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And this is my teacher – Chef Pearly Kee! I bought her cooking book and my daughter has been flipping it since then. She told me, “Mummy, let’s cook all the dishes in this book!” .

She, the boy and the man are my biggest fans (of course, they have to be) and ate a lot of the sambal prawns when I re-cooked it last week :P

I think next post will be my last post on Penang Island. Till then! ~ Jean.

Penang | National Park (Monkey Beach and Lighthouse)

Hello there! It has been 10 days into February. Chinese New Year is around the corner, in fact, it’s next week (over the weekend!). I took on a short break to Penang, returning just last Friday. It was a good break for me without kids and I can explore into stuff that I usually won’t do when I am with them. Maybe, when they are old, I will bring them to do what I like.

So, what did I do in Penang? One of the highlights, for me, was trekking trip to the National Park. Reached the park before 10am, chose a trail when I was there and let’s go! It would be nice if I get to explore the rest of the trails but the time just doesn’t allow that as I will have to camp overnight. Camping wasn’t part of my plan so I skipped that.

Next up, will be lots of photos and may take a long time to load [pardon me].

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The little hut next to the starting point into the park is where the guard will jot down the trail(s) that I will be embarking. I had wanted to go on a 6hrs trail but that would means another 6hrs back. It will be dark by then so decided against it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A fishing village not far off the beach from where I was.
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I took a left turn into the trail that led me to canopy walk but it was closed for maintenance. Walked further up the trail to Pantai Kerachut but it definitely looked more deserted than the other trails. So, I headed back up to the trail that will lead me to Teluk Duyung (Monkey beach) and Muka Head Lighthouse. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The initial walk wasn’t too bad, it was shady and flat walking surface. Nevertheless, I feel that we need to have a good pair of trekking/hiking shoes. Why?…..
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… Because I need to climb down this path using rope and up the rocks to the other side and a few paths that are near to the edge, therefore, a good pair of trekking shoes will be good as the loose dry soil and fallen leaves can be quite slippery. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Did you see what I saw there? :)
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Big fat army ants!!! Nah… they didn’t come after me and I left them alone so we were good :POLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There isn’t any monkeys or other dangerous creatures while I was trekking. I saw a few tree lizards and something else but it ran away before I could get a closer look at it. So, I think whatever that animal was, is pretty tame.

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This is Monkey beach where I can find food and replenish my water if I need but I brought sufficient so I didn’t stay too long at the beach since I wanted to go up to the lighthouse. It’s about 40-45mins to the top. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The path that led me to the lighthouse wasn’t too bad, no steep path, started off nice and easy but as I proceeded on, what greeted me ahead was high rocky steps. I was okay with the trail but for people who seldom hike may find it a bit challenging as your stamina may deplete quite fast. People with knee problem will have to go slow and easy too, especially when going down the hill.

Tips: Best is, to have a trekking stick to help you ease off some pressure on your knees. Loosen up (or warm up) your calf and thigh muscles by cupping your palms and hit them lightly before you start and even along the way when you feel achy. Take rest in between but not more than 5mins as when your body cools down, it will be harder to restart the engine and will use more energy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I was on my way up, I met the same lady who started off with me but she was faster as I took time to take pictures. Soon, she was nowhere to be seen after we parted our way at the signboard. Then, I saw her again. It was so nice to (at least) see someone, ha-ha! after 30mins into the trail.  We spoke for a while. “It’s definitely worth the climb up though it’s a long walk”. “Fighting!” she said before we parted again.

Met quite a number of cadets (they were on their way down) when I am almost there, about 100m more to go. They were friendly and many said “Hi” and “Fighting!” as they cheered me on. Ha-Ha!

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I rested a while, went up to the lighthouse before heading back. It was worth the 40-45 mins up from Monkey beach! The scenery was good :)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While trekking back to the main gate, I saw monkeys grabbing food from people and ate cautiously while watching out for other monkeys. They don’t seem aggressive but best is, not to feed them any food (I was told). This was at the Monkey beach.
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It took me about 3.5 hours to and fro. Wasn’t too out of breathe but legs were a bit sore for a day or so. It really wasn’t that bad as I can still walk up and down the stairs without much difficulty. Overall, I love the hike. I would have gone for the other trails if time permits :)

I took bus 101 to reach the park and it’s was pretty easy to locate the place. Just that looking for bus stop at some places in Penang can be quite challenging as some places don’t have a proper bus stop, it can be just a pole (without bus info) outside some rundown huts or small shops. >.<

Thank God for the beauty of nature and how He has created them.

Till the next post on another highlight of the trip! ~ Jean.

owls and bunnies

For the past couple of weeks, we have been busy with ending of holidays and starting of school term, though I still sew when I find pockets of time here and there (mostly at night, but I feel tired too, mentally and sometimes did nothing). I find it hard to keep focus without having to jump from project to project. But you can’t blame me as there are simply far too many things to make and do!

I was (still am) hooked in making dresses for myself, and for the kids too and seeing those pretty fabric in the cupboard and yet, not able to make something out from them is really a torture.

Flipping through craft books are not fun anymore if I don’t make something out from there so in order to keep my head off a bag design which I wanted to make the longest time, I finally made one.

Ahh, I feel good after making it. No kidding. I really do feel good. Chosen the colorful owl by Timeless Treasure Fabric bought online a year ago (I think). I have too many fabric which was bought years ago and yet to use just because I really like them a lot. Hoarder, i know!

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I was playing with the camera that day and used partial color function to remove all other colors except red. A thought came to mind as I filtered out the color and made me realised that some days in our life can be cheerful, happy, colorful, eventful, trying yet manageable and at times, it can be dull yet easy on the heart. In fact, the actual color of the bag is too colorful to cover it up or filtered out by a simple filter function.

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My boy has great taste as I mentioned earlier on IG. I was trying out other method in making the handle of the bag. Instead of the usual fabric handle, I thought maybe a cotton handle will do just fine. So, out came several colored cotton handles I bought from Taiwan last year. Can’t decide so the boy came and chose one for me.

So. What do you think? I love it! I think he made the right choice. Now, I can’t wait to use it when I am out and about. :)

Have a lovely mid-week! ~ jean.

The Wheatgrass

The wheatgrass has grown tall in a fast rate. The kids were so excited over it that they reported their growth to me every single day without fail. The girl also diligently changed the water with her brother’s reminder. :)

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And one day, the boy ran to me and said in great concern, “Mummy, there are red-eyed flies on the wheatgrass!”. Red-eyed? He sure looked worried.

So, what are those? Fruit flies. But i like to see his concerned look.

Note: fruit flies are common with wheatgrass growing indoor but not harmful to plant or people, just a little nuisance. It also means that your crop is ready to harvest. How to control or discourage fruit flies, I read that we can place a small fan nearby and turn it to low speed blowing near the grass. This gentle movement prevent the flies from flying easily around it.

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The girl refused to juice it and drink (I guessed it). Something new to them, growing grass and it can be juiced into a nutritious drink. They are not used to this idea. But they do drink this pretty often when I bought it off the shelf. Maybe in near future, they have the courage or like the idea of growing and juicing after harvesting each batch :)

~ jean.

Inside Out Drawing Studio

Inside Out Drawing Studio runs art programs for children, teens and adults using the internationally acclaimed eduArts Curriculum, based on the Monart Method developed by Ms Mona Brookes, the US Art Educator.

Since I am hopeless in teaching or guiding them in this area and both lack basic foundation though they love to draw, we signed them up with Inside Out Drawing Studio.

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The girl, I tell you, is a perfectionist, cautious and detailed like the father. She kept erasing and wanted everything neat and proper in her drawing.

On the other hand, Job is the bolder one with let’s-get-started attitude and zoomed in to the eagle that he is learning to draw. Lots of questions for the teacher too :D

Looking forward to our next class, they said.

:) jean.

V neck blouse in Yellow Floral

I like slightly loose top to go with 3/4 or above the knee pants. But frankly speaking, I have doubt when this fabric was selected for this blouse. Not sure why but the nagging feeling of, is this the right choice keeps popping up even till the very last moment. Oh well, needless to say since you see this fabric means I had gone ahead and ignored the question in my head.

First version was a plain cut of two pieces from the pattern. Nothing fanciful, sew the invisible zip at the back, stitched the sides, the armholes and did a bias tape over at the neckline. It was easy to sew. Wore it once and like it.

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However, changing the blouse has been at the back of my mind. “What if I sew double pointed darts at the front and back?” “Will it be better?”. After some thoughts, I went ahead and sew it. The feel and look of it is – the blouse has some shape and not too loose. This became the second version. Which one do I like it more? Actually, I like both. It really depends on what individual likes and to the comfort of the wearer. I am okay with both, in fact. No complain for this blouse except for, did I make the right choice with this fabric? hmm…. it’s for me to ponder :D

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And oh! did I mention that this pattern (including Summer Dress and Tunic Dress) was adapted from a Japanese book “I love liberty print”.

Time to go now…till the next post. ~ jean

Urban Farm

Outing to Urban Farm this morning. Thanks to friends who shared the information as I would have totally missed this lovely plot of land dedicated to people who like gardening but has no space at home to grow vegetable or plants. Similar to a community garden at chinese garden (2CG).

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Little explorers looking for the farm and wondered if we were lost while following this nature trail since there isn’t any sign or sight of it until we came to this junction and I heard “There it is, mummy!!” :D

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Most of the areas are fenced up and protected from intruders. Along the way we saw some shelves for vertical farm, we can actually rent and grow vegetable or herbs of our choice. We were so tempted to rent one big shelf (SGD50/month min 3 months) to start but we didn’t as I am not sure how well we can commit to this as we need to attend to our small little garden on the shelf at least once a week. This vertical farm is really interesting, I think we might give it a try if time permits.

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So, what have we bought in the end? As the girl is interested in growing her little garden and not to dampen her interest, we went with this less hassle and low maintenance using hydroponic method pot and seeds. These are wheatgrass. So, literally, we are growing grass, just that these are edible :)

Let’s wait for a week and see whether they survive :)

jean.

Tunic Dress in brown floral

Made a tunic dress using the same pattern which I used for my previous two summer dresses. I removed the pintucks, pleats and drawstring tie, added zip to the back and big side pockets. Love the simplicity of the dress.

But I have a hard time trying to get a proper picture of it due to its pale looking color, sweet dainty pink floral in brown, the pictures which I took didn’t turn out well. This is quilting cotton, so it is slightly thicker than any other cotton. Fabric on its own is beautiful but when wear on the person, it may not go well with her skin color (it depends). Wear it with a cardigan or a sling bag may looks good too :)

It is loose fitting for most (or all) Japanese casual wear. Some may like it as it gives the comfort, not too tight and look really good in it. But some really dislike it as one may look pregnant or plump in it. I was smiling (half laughing, in fact) when a student commented on that, didn’t mean to but it’s true. I am one of those who like not-too-loose-dress, that’s why I added drawstring to define the waist for my previous two dresses.

Well, for a change, this is not too bad (i feel) :)

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Bye now. ~ jean

Flower Sugar in Blue…

I am into making dresses again! I regretted not buying the whole range of flower sugar fabric when I visited the store few months ago. When I returned to get the fabric to make myself a dress as per request from my student, the intended fabric, greyish blue was out of stock.

So.

In the end, what left for me to buy was this blue flower sugar by Lecien. I was thinking to myself, hmm.. how will this turn out. I have some blue dresses too but this is bright and cheery. Friends even said “Cath Kidston look alike”. It didn’t occurred to me but I really love this dress after it was made. :)

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I had an interesting conversation with the man. I said, “I think I should wear a cardigan over this so that it doesn’t look too bright on me”. He said, “You might as well wear sackcloth!” :D

His comment made me laugh, well, true!

Till the next post, stay calm and stitch on!

♡ ~ jean.