Dec 25, 2011

You can only have ice cream sundaes on Christmas Eve

During the day on the 24th, the kids were absolutely bouncing off the walls at my parents' house, and with Lola doing all the cooking for noche buena and Mik arriving only on the evening flight, Lolo and I decided to take the kids to Reston Town Center for a runaround. As soon as she saw the skating rink, Bella immediately started pestering me to go skating: "Mama, can we go skating? Mama can we go skating? Mama please can we go skating?" Initially, I was all, no, no, no, we're just here to walk around, and what would we do with Matias and Lolo? And then it dawned on me: send them home. Matias and Lolo get along like peas and carrots, and without Bella around to rile him up, Matias is a pretty mellow kid. So we sent Lolo and Matias off, and Bella and I had one of our best Mama-Bella afternoons ever. Skating in the sunshine followed by some shopping and Bella's first (!) ice cream sundae ever. It helps that since it was a special day, she is now convinced that sundaes only exist on Christmas Eve. 
OK, I admit it. In this photo, I wasn't really taking a photo of Bella but of the mom in the ridiculous get-up behind her. Semi-sheer tights and hot pants for ice skating, riiiiight. Oh, and earmuffs to keep her warm!
 Mama. This is the most delicious thing EVER.
 Merry Christmas from Reston, Virginia!

Nov 29, 2011

Singapore Humidity: 1; Gingerbread House: 0

After basic construction, we meant to leave it overnight for the icing to harden... only to find that by the next morning, the gingerbread had soaked up so much moisture that it had collapsed into itself...
...rendering my ingenious ant-defying solution moot.
Ever the optimist, bit quickly sees the bright side of things - she's a one-girl salvaging/disposal crew! And I guess we'll have to find something to do with all the decoration candy...
Too bad I didn't take any "before" photos... it was a pretty sturdy looking house, but clearly no match for 98% humidity. 

Nov 24, 2011

160 handmade coin purses

"When exactly do we get you back?" Mik asked at 11 pm one night, as I zoned out to central asian music while fusing hundreds of pieces of interfacing to rectangles of 6"x4" fabric. In case anyone in Singapore was wondering why I'd disappeared for the past couple of weeks... I was at home, making these (from scratch) for my cousin Jo's wedding in Dallas last weekend. Each one in muslin, canvas and/or vintage print, with handsewn buttons (again, "vintage," though I didn't have the foresight to grab my mom's button box last time I was home, so by the end I was snipping buttons off Mik's old sportcoats, ssssh).
The upside is, I'm now pretty quick at making these. Kind of by necessity. I spent a lot of time on the engineering (had only a few casualties) so that I had the most efficient design and process. AND I actually planned my supplies so I only had to make one trip to the textile center. That was about a month before the wedding, when I mailed Jo photos of the prototypes and asked what she thought. She LOVED them, she said; I patted myself on the back; aaaaand then I lost steam. I went on some trips, spent a lot of time reading*, and the sewing machine sat. And sat. And sat. 

Fast-forward to a week before the wedding, and I had... the 20 prototypes I had made in late October. Luckily, Jo emailed to pare down the guest list (originally 200-ish) and to apologize in case I had made too many ("No problem!!" was, of course, my response).

So by the last week, I gave myself a quota of finishing 50 a day (to give myself an 'extra' day to pack and spend time with the kids before I left), which turned out to be cake. In theory, the idea was to get the process down so I can churn these out in various designs, sizes, etc. and revive my Etsy shop. But I've been back since Monday night, and the sewing machine has sat. And sat. And sat. 

Note that this blog is going up AFTER the wedding -  didn't want to make anyone nervous by posting it beforehand. Not that anyone involved with the wedding would've been surprised to know that I volunteered... and then procrastinated... just a little bit. They're all family, after all, and have known me for quite some time. 

Pics below of the process (kind of) and the finished products, made with love, all packaged up and ready to hand out!

* The new Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Susan Casey's The Devil's Teeth, about Great White sharks; The Paris Wife, about Hemingway's first wife; and Snuff, a fun Terry Pratchett - all four highly recommended... I actually read a few more (and just parts of a couple more) that I wouldn't recommend. When I read, I tend to go on a tear. No bestseller list or "Amazon recommends..." is safe from me. Especially when armed with my awesome new Kindle Fire. More on that later.

Oct 14, 2011

Bella's Dada phase

Kinda cool collage artwork by Bella:

$2 store score

Spotted at Daiso, the Japanese $2 store, where I went for treats and little toys for Matias' birthday party:

Oct 12, 2011

Bumblebee in Louboutins

11 a.m. last Sunday. An almost-6-yr-old's interpretation of 'party wear'. To clarify: not a Halloween party.

Matias learns to count

Turns out Theresa's been stealthily teaching Matias all kinds of Tagalog. Here we were thinking she was only teaching him Lady Gaga lyrics. Bonus!

Oct 7, 2011

Back in the saddle

My poor neglected sewing machine is back out of the closet, this time to make 180+ little coin purses as favors for my cousin's wedding in November. I'm looking at it as a bit of a boot camp, though - to get the creative juices flowing again so I can get my poor neglected etsy shop back online. 
Step 1 (my favorite) - going out to source supplies. I had always been dejected when shopping for fabric and notions in Singapore. The main reason-- it's EXPENSIVE! We live in the Orchard Road area, where, well, everything is expensive. The couple of quilting & craft shops I've been to aren't even worth mentioning because fabric is $20/yard and seemingly sourced from the U.S. and the U.K. anyway. So imagine how excited I was to find this place, just a 10 minute cab ride away!
I only had an hour and a half, so I barely made it through half of the first floor, which was notions galore.
I just peeked into this shop - everything you see here are just packets of thousands and thousands of buttons. Yep. Buttons.
The zipper wall at one of the shops:
Thread and ribbons:
Of course, I'm just kicking myself for only having found this place 2 years after we moved to Singapore, but yeesh, better late than never. Now the trick is to resist the temptation to stock up...

Textile Center
200 Jalan Sultan
Singapore 199018

Sep 22, 2011

1.5 Days in Chiang Mai

Last week, with only a mom and a grandmother and two carry-on bags in tow, the Teeny Traveler played hooky from Kindergarten for a couple of days to go to Chiang Mai, Thailand. 1.5 days is a bit speedy, even for us, but it was enough to hit some great highlights:
Just an hour out of town are the Queen Sikrit Botanical Gardens, where flower-nut Bella and flower-nut Lola gaped at gorgeous orchids, beautiful lush gardens, and garden house after garden house of strange plant species.

Just 10 minutes back towards town, we stopped by the Maesa Elephant Camp, where they offer "Be a Mahout for a Day" adventures, but where we opted just to meet some elephants, see a show (call ahead for times, as they close early) and take a half-hour elephant ride. For our little traveler (and for her Lola, too), half an hour lurching through the forest was more than enough.

The Four Seasons Chiang Mai was on the way home too, so we stopped in there for a delicious lunch/dinner on their terrace.

Which Wat to visit? In Chiang Mai, the Luxe Guide claimed that it was a no-brainer: we made the 45 minute drive to the completely stunning Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, where the not-so-devout can skip the 300 steps up to the temple and take a funicular (really, more like an elevator) up instead.

Four hours left before our flight back to Singapore, so we asked our driver to take us through the old town for some shopping and a bit of from-the-car sightseeing. We stopped at one more temple complex, very different from Doi Suthep but also incredible, and hit Nimmanhaemin Road for a few pretty things in silk.

Not bad for 1.5 days, but we could've used one or two more, to visit the Night Market (suspect it might be mostly tourist faff, but the Luxe Guide claims that there are a few treasures to be found there), see a few more temples, and do a bit more shopping. I don't think we put one toe outside the beaten path on this trip, but it was a great girls-only break, and culturally interesting enough to warrant two days out of school :)

Random tips: Highly recommend the Chedi Chiang Mai - great rooms, great food, great service. Got a great rainy-season deal on Agoda, but food/drinks were on the expensive side for Thailand. Speaking of rain, it did rain almost every minute we were there, but it just made everything seem much more lush and clean (and importantly, cool). We just shlepped a couple of hotel umbrellas with us wherever we went.

For transport within Chiang Mai, we had the option of using the hotel car and driver for 400 baht (13 USD) an hour, or hire a taxi for 300 baht (9 USD) an hour, and I'm glad I sprung for the extra $4 for the hotel driver. He ended up being a mini-tour guide, and had some great recommendations for attractions and places to visit, AND helped keep an eye on Bella, AND had cold bottles of water and frozen towels waiting for us in the car. Whattadeal!

More photos:

May 18, 2011

Wedding Day

Bella recruits Matias to play "wedding":

The wedding dance (or, It's all fun and games until someone tries to do a dip):