As a courtesy to me and the universe, please speak to me before you copy or transcribe anything from this blog for profit- my work may be unpublished but it is of value to me, and if you are using my ideas to profit, hey, I want my cut of it!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The in between world.....

Liminal. Thats how I've felt the last two months. In between. On the verge. In the doorway. I had hinted to some that my life is in upheaval. An opportunity presented itself to me awhile ago decided that I would like to move back to Calgary. The time was right and although this was not a climb up the ladder move but more of a lateral move, it was a big step for me. I have enjoyed the city of Edmonton. I love the life I managed to carve out for myself here, with friends I like and a lovely home. So when I got the go ahead from the powers that be, I was happy but apprehensive since this would entail moving. So for the last month in a half, I had been frantically packing and decluttering my place to prepare it for sale. All my art stuff got packed away, save some christmas stamps and so I am desperately missing my crafting time. Things were given away, donated or sold. Furniture promised to strangers and friends.

It's been almost a month since my house went on the market. I did have some looky Lous but no nibbles. I am tired of living this way. I have been trying to keep the house in a presentable state so I have refrained from cooking (so I didn't have to clean up after). With me travelling back and forth but not really having a permanent place to call home since I am already mentally letting go of my current home, this has been hard. I have even started to look for a new place in Calgary. Every breathe I take in my current home beings me closer to goodbye and I know I will miss the spaciousness of this space. Especially given what I can afford in Calgary. I do not know how I am going to downsize. It will be a challenge. But first, may I ask you to say a little prayer for me so my place sells? I don't want to back in three months whining about the same thing.

Because of the frequent travelling, and uncertainty, I am feeling somewhat anchorless. And I miss the grounding my art affords me. So the next time you sit down to craft, whether it be a story, an inchie or some cards, or knitting, or quilting, please savour the moment for me, and for others that cannot do it for one reason or another.

Here are some pictures from my new workstation. Please don't be too envious of me since the roads to and from the mountains are sometimes treacherous and slick.The bottom one is from my desk. The top one is from out in Morley, where we were out doing some outside work. I think I am blessed to work in such beautiful surroundings.
They were taken two weeks ago. The mountains and the meadows are covered in snow now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Comfort and Joy

This post won't be about the usual Christmas saying. I have been a little distressed lately. My life has been in flux and I find myself seeking comfort in familiar foods. My comfort food is very asian. It is rice porridge or congee. In Cantonese, it is called chok or jok. I am more accustomed to calling it moey, the Hokkien dialect of Chinese. It is a very cheap meal to make- a cup of rice will likely feed the whole family since it is mostly water or stock. The rice is soaked for about an hour and if you're like me, you'll break up the grains before you boil the daylights out of it. It can be had with any kind of meat- chicken can be steamed or poached with ginger and some green onions before shredding the meat. Fish filets can be marinated with soy, sesame oil and ginger and be cooked in the porridge. Ground pork balls can be made with some chopped up tung chye (Tianjin Preserved turnip), which is very salty, and dropped into the porridge or be made into a soup to be added to the porridge. But if you do it the latter style, your rice porridge has to be thick and goopy so it can be diluted with the soup.

Condiments for rice porridge include a little bit of the following: shredded ginger, chopped green onion, white pepper, soy sauce (not China Lily, of course- but the typical real kind of soy sauce from China), fried chopped garlic and some garlic seasoned oil and thinly sliced bits of the chinese long donut called You char koay or something similar sounding.

One of my favourite rice porridge is a standard dim sum offering- Century Egg and Pork Congee. Now I cringe everytime I see Century Egg in western media. Typically, it is in the context of strange things those other people eat and it is lumped with balut (fertilized egg embryo), or dinuguan (congealed blood and meat) or bugs, bats, civet cats and bushmeat. I am sure some of you will remember episodes of Fear Factor with contestants having to chow down on century egg slurry or something unappetizing to western sensibilities.

I attibute my love for century egg to my term in my mother's belly. She had some nasty cravings, one of them being century eggs. Luckily, she didn't crave the smell of gasoline/petroleum like she did when pregnant with my brother. In asian countries, century egg is cut up and served with slices of ginger, or cooked up in my favourite porridge. Basically, it is a duck egg that is allowed to cure in a very basic solution for a few months. The chemical process solidifies the yolk into a brown gelatinous mass and converts the yolk into a creamy, yet very ammonia-y custard. Sometimes, the egg white will have some very pretty snowflake like crytals develop within the gelatinous mass and it is oh-so-pretty.

I won't lie to you- century egg truly is an acquired taste- but to me, a very comforting one.

So I made this porridge this weekend, and as I was scraping off the mud that is wrapped around the egg to preserve it, I remember taking mud off salted duck eggs and remember how much more satisfying that process is. Salted duck eggs are covered in grey clay and then rolled in black ashes so they don't stick to one another. And suddenly I am taken back across time and space and I am in my mothers kitchen and washing off the ashes and clay, bits of the clay washing down the sink as water dilutes the mess. The salted ducks egg typically has a blueish hue. We only made salted ducks egg one way- boiled and eaten with porridge. The white is typically very salty so an egg would feed at least two people, when eaten with congee.

There really isn't a point to this post, I suppose, aside from remembering and being comforted by things familiar, no matter how unfamiliar they are to others. I hope that I can still turn to my comfort foods and things that bring me joy when I need to.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gratitude and Thanks

I meant to get this post out before Canadian Thanksgiving but of course, for on reason or another, was not able to do so. I have been thinking a lot about being thankful- I have a lot to be thankful for. We all do. For all the big things like peace in our lives, for being able to enjoy the fruits of our labour. For the fact that we can see the leaves fall of the trees, or as I sit by the window and look out and watch the cold raindrops beat against the window, for the shelter that I have, the warmth that my working furnace affords me (nevermind that Iwill pay through my nose for the gas that stokes the furnace), Most of all, I am grateful for my life. No, nothing dramatic has happened to me-I didn't survive some earth-shattering moment that opened my eyes- my eyes have been open all this time- but sometimes, even when we are grateful for the good and bad things in our lives, we forget to express it- so I am doing just that.

Tammy, I am thankful for that stuffed camel you sent me, along with the Puppy chow mix. Pugs, I am grateful that you thought enough of me to send me those stamps. Sister, thanks so much for thinking to set aside those newspapers for me, even if you really wanted to throw them out two weeks ago, Mum, thanks for cooking me my favourite meal, even if you didn't tell me about it till too late. Pat, your kindness was amazing, since you don't know me, yet thought enough of me to send me that camel. Liz, thanks for inspiring me (and addicting me) with your fabulous works. Rox, what can I say- I write some of my entries to make you laugh. I was listening to the CBC program, Spark (which comes as podcasts, BTW) and they were discussing what makes blogs great. One of the things Merlin Mann said to do is to ask yourself "who is my audience" and focus your writing on one person that inspires you and write to that. So, I try.

To each and every one of you, I thank you. I am grateful.

In Bahasa Malaysia, to thank someone is to say "Terima Kasih". Literally translated, it means "Receive Love". Please receive my love

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Art in the Summer

I've been bad. I went out and got some more stamps. If my house were to ever catch fire, I am sure I'd die from all the fumes from my rubber stamps. I already have a plan. If I am home, I will open up the window and fling out all my stamps. Meanwhile, I am keeping a record of all my stamp acquisitions so at least I can try and claim insurance if I need to. Something tells me I am woefully underinsured since I first got my insurance. There is a cautionary tale on the news today about a home that was struck by lightning and caught fire. Even though the family had insurance, they don't think it will be enough to rebuilt the home.

So, here are some bits and bobs I've been working on. This card I had made specially for my friend Komali's daughter's birthday. The idea I got from JanTink. The colours are what my friend had picked out for the theme.

Stamps: Unfrogettable, Zoofari, A little birdie told me, Doodle wheel (all Stampin'Up!)

Paper: watercolour paper, rose red, celery (SU)

Accessories: Organdy ribbon from a ribbon share I got from Heidi at Pink Hedgehog Papercrafts

Inks: Stampin' Up! Classic Inks, StazOn black.
I punched out the squares from watercolour paper and inked the animals on then watercoloured them using my Aquapainter.

Something else I was working on is the ATC below. It's a prelude to the Tasteful Nudes ATC swap I signed up for. Like I said, I got new stamps!! One of my favourites is the Quartet of Bobbies that are from the Queen's Dresser Drawer. I picked this up from Stampdiva, along with Frida, and some nudie stamps from PaperArtsy. Below is a glimpse of what I am currently working on. Can I say I love my Tim Holtz Distress Inks? They are so beautiful and they take to paper so well. I was afraid I was going to get mud when I tried to colourwash two different colours but instead, the colours just blended nicely without mixing. I used Broken China and Shabby Shutters. The stuff on the writing pad is some songs I'd picked out for a Favourite Music swap I am going to be doing with some ladies I know. Its been fun revisiting my favourite songs to see if I want to include them in this swap.

I seem to be having a hard time uploading my quartet of bobbies. I'll try again once more. If it doesn't work, I'll just have to retake the picture another time.Grrr!

There, the bobbies finally uploaded. Phew! This was the fifth time trying. I usually don't have much problems uploading my pictures.

The nudie ladies are from one of the Vintage Nude Plates from Paper Artsy. I stamped the bobbies, then masked them before I stamped the ladies on. I used my Distress Inks, with exception of the bobbies, who got the Not Quite Navy treatment.

I've been having fun watching the traffic on my blog since I installed Feedjit. There are quite a lot of people I don't know visit- please DO say "hi", as I don't bite- unless you want me to. But we'd have to be good friends- I don't bite strangers. :)

Please, do validate me.... after all, the diva part of my name didn't come from nothing. Feedback is valued, but like Shelli (of the Shelli Gardner fame) said, I reserve the right to surround myself with positivity and good vibes on only hear the accolades :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blog Awards

So, my friend Sue passed this award on to me.

Thanks, Susie! I would like to pass it on to three people:

Roxanne, author of Art of Practice . Roxanne is a very talented writer, who has recently taken steps towards writing full time. She is, a little bit of a philosopher as well and is a true kindred spirit, a la Anne of Green Gables.

Donelda, who has been steadily digesting Jim Krause's book, Design Basics Index and sharing the tips to better design wth us. Donelda mantains Wiggy's World of Crafts and her enormous talent at creating cards is obvious when you visit her site.

And of course, to Irene, who inspires me artistically (and lives on the other side of the world). Irene lives in the city I was born in. She is an astounding scrapbooker, whose work is a result of layers and layers of details. She also has some marvellous techniques that she demonstrates on her blog. Her site is called Scrapperlicious.

Lastly, my friend Kimmie passed this on to me. Thanks, Kim!. I am supposed to nominate seven favourite blogs ... hmmm... I think this a ploy to get us all sucked into the vortex that is the blogosphere .......

1. Susanna Boyd's Card of the . Susanna does a review of people's blogs and does a best of blogosphere summary. Its a good place to hop to if you are lazy to blog hop.

2. JanTink's Stamps Paper Scissors. I am a big fan of Jan. She is too funny, with her chocolate devotion and her guilt about commiting rubbah -dultery.... although she seems to be straying far for Stampin' Up! lately.

3. Kristina Werner's KWernerDesignBlog . Kristina does some really nice work and she also does videos that you can watch *and* she also works for Stampin' Up!

4. Julie Ebersole's Paper Trufflez . I've always admired Julie's deceptively simple and clean looking designs and she is so funny as well.

5. Shari Caroll's blog. Shari is the designer for Hero Arts. I have loved Hero Arts as long as I remember and so they are very close to my heart.

Really, I can't think of whom else I'd like to nominate. I try not to blog hop because it just sucks waay too much time.

I do have some art that I will post soon. I have a week off so I'll do it sometime this week.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer Swaps

So, after much struggle, I finished the swaps I had signed up for. Because I didn't have a clue what the end result was going to be, I muddled along. But the end result was worth it and I love my creation. I started with vanilla cardstock. Because I had spent and arm and a leg to buy Tim Holtz's craft sheet (basically, a silicone sheet that is 15 x 18 inches) I was determined to use it. I randomly inked my fired brick distress ink pad on the sheet along with one of the browns (not sure which). Then I spritzed with water and gently laid the cardstock in the puddles. I was really surprised with the softness of the brick red as it looks more like the colour worn lipstick. The dappling efect of the colours are so gorgeous- am definitley going to be making lots more backgrounds like these.

I had also purchased a retired set-Botanical and was anxious to use it. I overstamped in vintage photo (or was that tea ink?) the french script fromt that set and then spritzed it to get a softer look. The red poppy was stamped in Timber brown stazon (my new favourite ink, now that I've gotten over the smell of the pad) and coloured in with some cheapo coloured pencils. I also used Stampin' Up!'s marker olive, to colour the leaves.
I had gotten a Paper Artsy stamp set ( Buttons, Plate 4) and wanted to incorporate what I thought were theBronte sisters stamp in my ATC so I stamped it on a transparency and cut them out to overlay it on the main ATC.

The "pin" part of the ATC was also fun to make. Dollar store embellishments were used- they are "mini frames with brads". I learned this from my friend Robin at our last stamping get together (thanks, Robin for sharing with us this idea). I used crystal effects to hold together a "scene" I created with mini mulberry flowers. The original plan was to tat little butterflies and use them in the frame but I've misplaced my tatting shuttle and threads so I used the image from the sisters instead- colouring them in with chalks.

I backed my ATC with cereal box cardboard and I also edged them with my Zig gold pen.
So now, I was also in some inchie swaps as well and so I had leftover "sisters" from the transparencies and I cut them out carefully and layered them on my inchies. I like how it turned out.

Here are some other things I had worked on in the last little while (before my dry spell).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Garden tales

Artwise, I have been at a standstill. My muse has packed up and wandered away as I struggle to create for a couple of swaps coming up. ACK!! Summer seems here to stay and I am constantly fighting with the dandelions and other greens that are taking over my garden.
My raspberries are out and am swimming in fruit. I already made a batch of jam out of desperation. I may need to freeze some of these berries and I know I still have berries from last year-help!! If you live within driving distance, do consider coming out and helping me with my dilemma as I can't keep up with the harvesting of the raspberries. Last year, I made raspberry syrup, some raspberry vodka cordial and raspberry jelly.

I have been trying to line up friends to come out and harvest these lovely beauties. There are only so many raspberries one can eat :)

Here's another picture to tempt you.... These red, luscious, organic raspberries truly are gems of nature. I seem to have a little visitor in my garden. My neighbours, who are bird freaks, tell me that we have some blue jays visiting and staying. They've gotten them trained so that my neighbours show up with peanuts and other nuts for the birds when they come out into the garden. When I was out picking the lovely raspberries you see in the pictures, I heard this loud squawking from the bushes in front of me. It was so loud, I thought it was a magpie, but it was only one of the bluejays, protesting at my presence in his patch of berries! I shooed him away, of course, he'd better learn to share :)

I've yet to attack the grass with the dandelion stick because I really want my lawn to remain organic. Especially since I found a patch of edible looking mushrooms under the golden crabapple tree. They were so edible looking, I found myself taking a bite out of the stem.I took it inside, washed it off and ate it. It was really, really good! It tasted very umami- savoury and meaty- surely something like this cannot be poisonous? So I decided to look it up and apparently, you're supposed to identify the mushroom *before* you eat it. So, I did a spore print and it had some lovely brown and salmon coloured spores, and the mushroom is white and has unattached gills and a ring on the stipe too. From some pictures, and the identification key I followed, I think it is a Trichoroma pardixx but since I am not 100% sure, I am going to wait till I take a course on mushroom identification before I proceed. Too bad, though, since that would have been a lovely meal. And they continure to taunt me as I can see their lovely white caps in the grass out the window from where my computer is located. ETA: I have to revise my identification since I've done more poking and it turns out my mushroom is Agaricus oseanus, as it also bruises yellow when damaged and I do remember the flesh turning yellow from me holding it. I'ts listed as cautionary edible, meaning that some people have had allergic reactions to it. Apparently, it has also been mistaken for the Amanita species (and likelwise) of which all species are poisonous. So perhaps I was wise to not consume it all. Just so people don't think I do very cavalier things all the time (okay so those of you who know me will realise I do anyways because of my risktaking behaviour, but that is another story for another time) I have taken several undergraduate courses in fungal physiology so I am not doing this blindly.

So, I don't think I posted a picture of what I did with my most favouritest inchies. I framed them. They are on the wall beside the computer so I get to gaze at them everyday an I love this idea so much, I am going to frame more inchies and surround this picture with more framed inchies. Those inchies are too beautiful to leave hidden in the box and sticking them in an album is just too geeky for me. The tactile inchies like my shaker ones will still be in the box, though because some of them inchies need to be fondled. It has gotten so that I can identify each and every inchie in the frame. Everyone's style is unique to them and that's what makes each inchie special.

I sure hope my muse returns soon.I need to get my stuff complete and out the door tomorrow. I also need to find my tatting shuttle and threads ... sigh..... wish me luck!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Inchie display, and some ATCs

My friend Kim posted a lovely dolly a couple of days ago and inspired me to attempt an ATC dolly. So, may I present Queen Beatrix. .....She is modeled very much after our friend Queen E, but unlike Kimmie's sweet and playful dolly, our friend Beatrix is sedate and regal in her bearing, and has what appears to be giant ankles. In her defense, I should have shaded her legs so you can see that she has very slim and fetching ankles. I watercoloured the background and fingerpainted over with gesso in a poor attempt at emulating Kim's gorgeous background. The ATC was also sponged with Distress Ink Vintage Photo. Her dress is outlined with gold Zig painty and her lovely sparkly shoes are made of burnt red glimmer mist scraps (Tattered Angels) and highlighted with half pearls. Her wings are from SU Natural Beauty set.

I was also rooting though my box of inchies yesterday- for those of you who don't know. I've been carrying around all the inchies I got from my various swaps in this lunch tin picked up from the dollar store. I love running my fingers through the various inchies but I thought it was time to actually do something with them. I've had this frame for ages and it has 3 5.5X5.5 windows and I picked out some of my favourite inchies and stuck them in the windows with non-permanent glue so iIcan go back and change them from time to time. I love how they look and plan to get more of these frames for the rest of my inchies. I didn't even bother removing the background pictures in the frame.This is what it looks like:
I have also been making other ATCs. Susie (Boxermama on SCS) has been running Weekend ATC challenges and I've been taking part in them when I can. Last year, I had no interest in making ATCs at all. None whatsoever. The adage that your friends really do have a great influence on you is so true- even as adults because I can't get enough of ATCs and I am trying out things I would never have done even a year ago. It truly is the influence of those I hang around with, even virtually....
2 of Cupcakes and 2 hearts in Paris was for Susie's Altered Playing Cards theme last week.

I am on a pink and brown kick, obviously. 2 of Cupcakes has a SU stitched bkg stamped in SU close to cocoa onto a SU Rose Red watercoloured bkg. The Cupcakes are a Mike's stamp and has Liquid Applique frosting and yummy looking seed beads. 2 of hearts is gessoed and stamped with Distress Tea dye. The stamps are from Cavalini & Sons (Eiffel Tower, postoid), SU (hearts-Love matters) and Teesha Moore (birds).

The ATC below was created for Kim's Who's Who Swap on SCS. This was completed a month ago but since we're on th topic of ATCs.... Bkg is salt resist technique. I took the liberty of adding acetate wings to the little kid (me- and if you knew me growing up, you'd be ROTFL). The acetate wings were enhanced with a white Souffle pen.Yes, there is a little bead necklace on the kid. And the flowers on the dress were highlighted with Stardust clear as well.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Teeth of Lions

Dandelions. Dent-de- lion.... supposedly a plant that came over from Europe. The leaves resembles the jagged teeth of lions. Supposedly very rich in vitamins and can be eaten as salad greens. The plant in itself, is useful. You can make wine with the nodding yellow heads that when dried up, turn into puffballs to spread their seed. Images of faeries hitching a ride from garden to garden on the dandelion seeds. The roots, if you dry them up and roast them, makes a good coffee substitute- very much like chicory. They are also taking over my garden. For three years, I have fought the urge to decimate them. I will dig them up- I have an organic garden. I am not crazy about poisoning them. After all, they (the dandelions) have been here long before I have. I discovered this when two years ago, I decided I was going to plant pumpkins. I dug up a patch in the back of one of the sheds, and found dandelion roots so torturous and twisted and fat as the size of my thumbs-. There they were, broken white fingers bleeding white sap amidst the dark dirt. I dug out what I could but in the back of my mind, I knew that this was futile.

I have been digging the little buggers out of my yard the last few days. I have broken two metal dandelion picks and I have giant blister in the middle of my palm from where I press the pick into the ground.I have garden bag full of dandelion plants, dug up. I am heading to the store for the dandelion bar. I cannot do this on my own. There just is simply too many dandelions for me to cope on my own.

This is the garden after the mowing:
(the dandelions are still there, the leaves and flowers are gone but the tenacious tap roots are there, waiting to sprout out new leaves to feed the beast)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm baack!

So, lots happened since my last entry. Looks like summer is finally here. It was 29oC yesterday. If I doubted the warm weather, my garden is proof it is warm. I cut the grass last week and it is already looking long and scraggly right now. The dandelions have only just started coming up so all is not yet yellow in the Dandelion Patch.

This is a Zentangle. You start with an image and you doodle freehand and decorate it. or you can do words. Its meant as an art therapy. Very cool stuff :)

I was away for a couple of weeks. I went to Niagara Falls for a conference. It is truly a marvel of nature and everyone should visit the Falls. Preferably when it is not the height of tourist season, though! I was there just before it got crazy. I even had a view of the falls from my room- and I never ceased to marvel at the waterfalls.

I also took a week to visit some relatives living out in St Thomas. No, not in the Caribbean- the one by London, Ontario
I really missed home and was so glad to be in my own bed, on my own schedule, with my own car.

So, I've been crazy busy trying to get some art time in because its down to crunch time. Deadlines looming for some swaps I signed up eons ago. Being away for two weeks didn't help at all.

Feast your eyes on these inchies. They are for Dena's 50 inchie swap. They all had to be different. I am used to making at least 10 inchies each time I make them so this was challenging (translated, my puny, lazy brain almost overloaded at the thought of having to make 50 different inchies). My favourites are:
the Dodo with the caption "Goin' My Way?" , the smoking nun with the caption "vices keep me human", the Inchie with Phyllis and a crown with caption "Inchie Queen", and "you too, could have this life if you wear Eddie Bauer".
Sure, I think I'm funny :) Phyllis is truly the inchie queen- she does an awesome job and I am honoured to know her. Another special mention is the"Who am I?" inchie with a burka- I had so much fun making that inchie since it would be hard to guess whom this person is.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nickelbacks and other artsy stuff

It is snowing like there is no tomorrow. Its been snowing since yesterday morning. There has to be at least 3 inches of snow to shovel. I am too warm and cosy to go out. Luckily I resisted the temptation to put away the shovel. And the sand. So I have been busy inside.... been playing with my inks and stamps. My friend Kim has got me making nickelbacks. What the heck are they, you ask? She named them in honour of us Canadians- 5 cm x 5cm squares- that a nickel so she called them nickelbacks. Going from 1 inch to 2 inches is harder than you think. I guess it reframing of how you look at things. Kimmie had sent me a wonderful asian inspired nickelback and so in return I have to send her one. All week, I had been agonizing over this as Kim is very talented and I wanted to impress her. I had picked the theme of frogs, thinking I was going to get back frogs... but it turns out I was supposed to make something with frogs. So.... two weeks ago, Telus sent out some glossy advertising for their digital media campaign- using frogs.

How perfect!! So, this is what I came up with.

The background was done on watercolour paper using the salt resist technique. I knew it existed before - seen this usually done on silk.. I inked up the paper with Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Fired Brick) , then spritzed the paper to get the ink mixing and swirling. Dropped on coarse salt and let dry. Brushed off the salt, spritzed on some burnt red Glimmer Mist (Tattered Angels) and stamped background with words. The crowns are gold embossed and blinged with rhinestones. I will not be keeping either of them (sooo sad!!). They will be travelling to Dena and Kim this week.

I was also challenged to create something witht he theme "Spring into Green". I am not an ATC person but somehow, this one spoke to me. Again, I am so loving the salt resist technique. I tried it with Stampin'Up!'s Old Olive, reusing the salt crystals. I really like how it turned out. The old salt crystals had picked up some dye and deposited it on the paper. I also used some Stampin'Up! Rub Ons for the first time. they aren't bad at all....

I think I shall turn it into a card for Mother's Day, with green paper, some luscious chocolate chip ribbon that I've been hoarding. Thanks for the idea, Susie!

I cannot avoid going outside so off I go to shovel snow :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Cuban rhythms

Last weekend, I attended a lovely Pena(pronounced Penya, but I can't get the squiggly over the n) at the Blue Chair Cafe . It was a show for a Latin Jazz band called Bomba. Their members live in Calgary and Edmonton and when they get a chance to get together, they do in either city and have these little music sessions.

I cannot believe this is the same group Bomba I had heard about when I was living in Calgary all those years ago. I used to occasionally take drum lessons from Luis. I just went to the Bomba site and I recognized one of their guest players- Toto. Toto used to be (and I presume still is) good friends with Luis. This was at least 10 years ago. And as I was looking at the pictures, it suddenly dawned on me that the singer that was also playing the gourd and guitar was Luis that I learned to drum with. He taught us how to drum djembe, but had from time to time brought in the congas for us too. My most cherished memory of my time drumming was this sultry, hot summer evening. This was in One World's old studio, above the hydroponics shop on Centre Street , in Calgary . It was hot and stuffy there. The windows were open yet it was stifling since there was about eight of us and the room was very much akin to an oven. Luis was showing us how to play several lines. He wasn't happy with what he heard, so again and again, he showed us what we had to play and listened. This went on for what seemed like endless hours. By this time, beads of sweat were wending its way down my shoulder blades and between my breasts. The music was pounding. And hypnotic. We could barely hear the traffic outside, though as we drowned out the sounds or cars and honking trucks. At some point in time, Luis turned off the lights in the place in hopes of keeping the heat down. So, there we were, in the evening's half light, beating away our own individual drum lines as he made us repeat again and again till it became part of our selves. Or hands and our hearts took over and collectively, we sighed. The the music started tightening up and for that small window in time, we were transported to Cuba, with the gentle and hypnotic beat of the congas,the clave, his melodious singing and the thick viscous heat on that hot summer day. He used to offer conga camps in Cuba- where one could go and live as the Cubans do, and play and eat and dream with them too. I wonder if he still does that. I would go in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I have been busy inchieing away at things. I was in a 100 inchie swap and finally got back my inchies. Since they aren't mine, I won't post them unless I get permission from the owners.

Meanwhile, I've been working on some Pick a Theme Inchies. So for these, you end up in groups and everyone gets to pick a theme. You make everyone else's themes but yours. In the end, you get everyone else's interpretation of your theme. Its a very exclusive kinda thing.

For this picture, the Themes were: Chillies, Queen Bee, Nancy Drew and Nursery Rhymes

The person on the chillies inchie is whom the inchie is going to. Her name is Phyllis and she is an awesome inchie artist. She has this wonderful knack for collaging and is so very humble about her work. Queen Bee was a bit of work but I am very pleased with how it turned out. I was inspired by an inchie I saw made by someone I traded with named Mrs Noofy. I used a transparency to give the bee's wings some depth. I also took a Stardust clear pen to the wings underneath the transparency. This was all sewn down with beads. There is a crown beneath the bee and it is embossed in platinum embossing powder and decorated with 3mm pearls. I tried to create the bookcover for Nancy Drew (The Whispering Statue) and with the Queen of Hearts- she was very fiddly as there were so many bitty bits to her- the tarts, and the hearts. there is Dimensional Magic/Crystal Effects/Diamond Glaze/Glossy Accents on the little hearts in the tarts. The queen was also coloured in with gel pens and she has a small bit of german scrap foil for a crown.

The next set of inchies are:

Halloween, Winter, Teapots and Cowboys.

I cut the skull freehand, stuck on googly eyes, and sponged around the skull lightly to create contrast. The orange strips have orange peel stickles on it for some bling. The winter Inchie is fairly simple. I had picked up some puffy stickers (yeah!! In the Husky store between Morinville and Slave Lake ). There is some glitter edging the snow and the sky on the inchie. the teapot was stamped with pigment ink and then covered with psychedelic embossing powder. the background was made by bleaching the cardstock. The "steam" was created with a Sakura souffle pen. The cowboy is just collaged. There is copper "rope" hanging from his shoulders. I like how he turned out.

The next set's themes are: Paris, Growing Old,

Vintage and Summer.

I really like how Paris turned out. I used a paint chip for the background- isn't that amazing? I can just envision a feature wall in that colour-gorgeous! the Eiffel tower is embossed in metallic brown on a brown background. Growing Old was a little difficult so I lucked out and found a deck of cards from the dollar store with the stopwatch with wings on them. there is crackle effects on the face of the stopwatch. Vintage was easy- found some images of the internet- antiqued it a little with Tea dye ink. the gold strips were purchased white in colour and the gold was rubbed on with acrylic paints. the "Summer" inchie is a BBQ stamp which I carefully coloured and used dimensional magic on. The silver is my Zig Painty pen.

I am really proud of my inchies. I do think my work is getting better all the time. I have been inspired by many new friends I've made, as we share ideas and techniques as we enchange these little bits of art with each other.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Lost Art....

When I was young, we used to get a TV program called "Big Blue Marble". At the end of the program, they encouraged their viewers to get a penpal from around the world to get to know your neighbour. My first penpal was an American girl called Susie O'Grady. I wonder what happened to her. She was actually the penpal of my best friend, Gina. So I eventually got my very own penpal. A Norweigian girl, called Gro Aaserod. And from then, came Lilyane from France, and Ron from Sweden. According to Wikipedia, this was a gentle form of multiculturalism, encouraging cross cultural communication.

All my life, I had had penpals. The rise of emails have significantly, taken away from the art of letterwriting. Although slow, there is this pleasure one gets from physically holding the letter in one's hand. The stamps used, the cancellation stamp, even the envelope made a difference.
Some people decorated the outside of the envelope as well. It really shouldn't be a surprise that I also collected stamps, no, not the rubberstamping kind, the postage kind. Part of acquiring the penpals was so that I could increase my collecton of foreign stamps. I used to have an Australian penpal that would regularly send me Australian coins so that I could trade it for Malaysian dollars to send to him. After the 11th package, I got tired of being his very one personal moneychanger and stopped sending the cash back to him. I remember getting a very nasty letter in the mail, accusing me of being a thief and being dishonest. I stopped accepting his mail.
My greatest pleasure (after writing the letter) was to carefully select a commemorative stamp to place in the top right corner (right over how much it cost to mail the letter). Also, mustn't forget the ubiquitous blue Air mail/ Mel Udara/ Par Avion sticker to indicate the mail should go posthaste. And last of all, don't forget to say a quick little prayer to St. Anthony to make sure the letter makes it to its destination.

So, I wondered with much sadness if penpals still existed- and much to my surprise, they do. In this instantaneous world, with breakup text messaging being the norm, and instant messenger, emails, Blackberrys and cell phones, people still have penpals. They still write letters, send and exchange bits of memorabilia and decorate envelopes. So, the internet, although has changed much of the landscape of correspondence, has allowed anachronistic white elephants like myself to connect with other like minded people and actually still exchange bits of our culture, and ourselves with people halfway across the world.

I guess I better go finish those inchies I need to get out tomorrow- the mail from Canada to the US is notoriously slow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mummy love

My mother never ceases to amaze. I was home last weekend. I badly wanted to pick up the 182 Ringgit parcel my brother had sent me. It was filled with 3 pounds of dried anchovies and one pound of dried shrimp. Precious commodity this far away from Malaysia.

So after the usual chatter, mum lets on that she had been analyzing Moe Amery's signature. Moe Amery is the PC candidate for her riding. Huh? What do you mean, analyzing? My brother had given her a book on handwriting analysis at Christmas. At the time, she looked through the book and set it aside. I didn't think much of it since gifts for mum is a hit and miss kind of thing. One year, my brother got her John Paul II's book for Christmas and she was lukewarm to it. The thing you least expect would become her favourite gift. Apparently, some time between Christmas and last week, mum had become some sort of a handwriting celebrity amongst her friends. She had been busy analyzing her friends signatures and had apparently been quite accurate in her predictions to their personalities.

"Mum, you have to analyze my handwriting,"I said to her as I hastily scribbled a paragraph using a very fine tipped pen and a scrap of paper sitting on the table. She looks at the writing, stops to ponder and say, "you don't live in the past... see how far away from the edge of the page you are?"

"More, more, tell me more," I say to her. She was hesitant. "You can tell me whatever, mum, even the bad bits" I encourage her. I had done some handwriting analysis in my time and knew all about the loops in the o's and about dishonesty, deceit and the like.

"I need to look at it carefully and this will take time. I'll write you a letter instead" said mum and that was the end of the conversation.

The other day, I called my mum because I hadn't spoken to her for ages.

" Mum, " I said, 'You have to tell me how to make that Taucheo beef that you make."
So she proceeds to tell me how its done. But in true mum fashion, she never gives me exact measurements. You have to use stir fry beef. Tenderize the big pieces by chopping it wth the back of a knife. Marinate the beef with dark and light soy sauce. Saute garlic and onions first. Shallots if you have them. Add some taucheo (fermented brown soy beans- Yeo's brand is best) which has been roughly chopped with a knife to macerate the beans . Add beef and sliced up green jalapenos. Lots of it. Balance the flavours with some sugar. The beans are salty so be careful with the salt. Cook till done.

"Mum, what is the origin of this recipe? Is it Nyonya or Eurasian?"

" Naah," she says "It's just my own creation."

I love my mum. I am so afraid of that there where I will never be able to call her up again to ask her for recipes.

Speaking of which... I need to get that Sour Beef recipe from her.... maybe that too, is an experiment. But it was pretty tasty. I reach for the phone and dial- 1-403-293......

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hobble along

Three weeks ago, I hurt myself. I tripped on the stairs as I was taking up a book I had recently bought- the irony is, of course, it was a book on Stretching- and long story short, I had twisted my knee. It was hideously painful and I was convinced I'd never EVER walk straight again. Of course, it never occured to me to stop and do the RICE thing-Rest, Ice, ?? Compress?? and Elevate. Besides, I was going to be travelling that week for work. I had worked really hard to arrange this trip and it involved contacting numerous parties and making travel arrangements to various towns, I was reluctant to cancel the trip. So there was me hobbling along, grimacing in pain at every step. A coworker felt sorry for me and so she loaned me a cane. Of course, it was not any old cane. It had a brass horse head, and had a very celtic look to it.
After getting over its looks, I actually took to the cane. I was really reluctant to use it since there is stigma attached to canes- the whole aging and getting old thing- but it provided the much needed stability that my stretched out knee needed as it healed. After a whole week with the cane, I had grown fond of it- it distingushed me from others and it provided me a crutch with which I could use to emphasize my thoughts and it would have been a fantastic weapon to boot. Alas, my friend needs the cane back so I will be parting with the horse head cane- and now I am on the hunt for another to replace it. Oh, and I've healed up quite nicely and although the knee is a little weak, I am walking as straight as I used to before the tripping incident.

Hoping for Spring

I am so praying for Spring. Yesterday, a seven year old boy told me that spring comes on March 20th and I didn't believe him so he pulled out a calendar to show me. It must have been printed in the USA since we all know that spring is at least six weeks away. Still, one can hope. Everything is fast melting and this past weekend, it was warm. or so I think it was since I was in Calgary, where it was even warmer. 12oC during the day.

In honour of spring, I am posting this card:

I had originally made it for a monthly swap club I am in. But I had since found out I was a little late so I decided to opt out for this month. The challenge was to use punches on your card. I used two circle punches to make the lady bug. The spots were done using black eyelets and the feelers were done with black craft wire. My favourite part of this was the Sakura stardust pen "clear" which I used to draw the glitter line on the blades of grass. I just want to run out to Deserres to buy myself more pens so I never run out. It adds glitter to anything in such a precise way since it is in a pen.
Paper: SU shimmer, SU black, Su red, SU Old Olive
Inks: SU Old Olive and Red
Stamps: SAB-08 Lots of Thoughts
Other: Black eyelets, craft wire

Sunday, March 2, 2008

How does one start again after a long silence?

So, it has been months since I said anything. Winter has just about passed me by. There is still snow in the large backyard and although things are starting to thaw, it is only the beginning of March so I won't kid myself in thinking spring is here. I fool myself with forced bulbs that are almost ready to bloom but the Ides of March is still miles away.This past weekend, norhtern Alberta had a winter storm. The same time, we were blessed with watery sunshine and a clear day.
So, I have been keeping myself occupied with my inchies project. I recently joined a 100 inchie swap and so my days were spent making those addictive little buggers. I am not a collage type of person so this swap has challenged me to step outside myself to try my hand at collage. Making these inchies are like giving birth. Okay. Not literally. Figuratively. They are fruits of my imagination and so it becomes very hard to part with them. I am not one of those [people] that can pop out inchies like there's no tomorrow. I agonize and hem and haw over most of them. So it was hard for me to part with my 200 inchies (I took two spots because I wanted a wide variety of inchies to come home to me). I hear they have been sorted so they ought to make it home to me in a couple of weeks.

I have been busy this past weekend. It was a Cookfest. I promised my sister that I'd make her a week's worth of meals for her Christmas present. So I decided it was high time I got all the meals together. So yesterday, I made Chicken Curry, Beef Stew, Braised Pork with Chesnuts and Mushrooms (based on a recipe called Kau Lak, I learned from Mrs. Kiu) and Beef with Tomatoes. Today, it was another long session- I made Fish curry, Long Beans and Prawns, Yambean with Pork and Prawns , Adabi Chicken Rendang and Pork with Chinese Sausage and Tomatoes. Tomorrow, yes, I still have to make two more things- Wan Tan mee and Yam cake. I sure hope these things freeze well. I used my fancy Foodsaver I got for Christmas. Hmmmm... its almost as if she planned it all. The funny thing is, I am not even keeping any of this for me. Okay- maybe I'll keep some yam cake for me. I am heading out on the road again anyhow this week so I won't be eating any of these.

So, the pictures you see are of my babies- the top two are some inchies I had made for some swaps. The bottom two are my 200 inchies for the swap.
I am going to frame some of the inchies I get back. It will be part of my art in motion series. I would also like to pick up stained glass again. Maybe when it gets a little warmer. Here's hoping!