Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Note: I am ranting in this post. If you don’t like reading anything negative, there are heaps of other blogs out there. I believe I do have the right to not like every human to be patriotic or loyal.

On our way to buy groceries on Saturday, we went to cheer on the diggers parading down St Kilda Road. M stepped away a little to help me take some photos and I was approached by a guy talking about the weather. Small talk is never my forte but I tried my very best to be sociable. As I was in the middle of expressing how delightful it was that the rain stayed away as opposed to what the weather man had predicted on the evening news on Friday, the guy looked at the people around me before calling out “Ngeee-Hoa” repetitively. I was glad when he started to walk away but he came back yelling out the same words over and over. He looked amused. I know what he was trying to say. (To those who are a bit confused, the guy was trying to say “Ni Hao” – a Mandarin Chinese way of saying hello.) I suppose I should be grateful that this human was so friendly but he wasn’t. He sounded more like he was trying to make fun of me. I was very tempted to call out “Konnichiwa” but I was sure that M wouldn’t be impressed if I had created a scene or worse, ignited a war. LOL.

After lunch, we dropped by Target because I wanted to find out how the children’s jeans with the adjustable waist are constructed. My next sewing project is a little denim skirt. I was at the little boys department by myself because M was browsing in the basement. Situated right opposite the little boys department is the children’s sleepwear department. I was studying the adjustable waist of a pair of jeans when three shoppers (a couple and a female friend) walked towards my direction. There were no kids so there wasn’t a need for me to do my ‘civic duty’. They stopped near a rack of polar fleece sleep suits (aka blanket suits). The female friend picked up one and said, “Oh my God. This is a size 4!” The couple said something when I realised that their friend was eyeing me like I was some kind of a bug. The female friend checked the label of the sleep suit she was holding and then declared loudly, “It’s made in China! Of course… They just don’t get it. They just don’t get what we need.” The other woman then said, “That’s just not right. Who would wear that?” As they walked away, the female friend gave me another once over. Seriously what did I do wrong? And duh, it’s a well known fact that most clothing these days are made in China. The country is like one big factory, manufacturing what others had ordered. The Chinese is known to have invented a lot of things but that sleep suit is probably not one of them. They have been around for a long time and just because it’s a sleep suit/coverall doesn’t mean that it is only made to fit the under 12 months of age crowd. They do come in larger sizes to fit pre-schoolers and lower primary kids to cater to different home environments. I have seen it used as an alternative to a dressing gown to keep kids warm during breakfast. (Dressing gowns can be annoying if the ties keep getting untied.) Not all Melbourne houses are heated in Winter like a day at the beach on the Gold Coast.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cheering On The Diggers (ANZAC DAY 2009)

Check out the little man playing bagpipes! That's an idea.

More bagpipes. I love kilts but M wouldn't be seen dead wearing one.

Oh, I love those costumes! Spotted another Asian face too and that's cool.

Some of these diggers have probably been to my birthplace.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beard Wanted

Wednesday the 22nd of April was M's birthday. It was meant to be his day off but he had to attend a seminar on Asperger's Syndrome. I wasn't too happy about that but he came away with a greater understanding of me. I guess that has got to be good. LOL. We went out for dinner - nothing fancy though. I am not big on celebrating birthdays. We are truly becoming boring and old. Seriously though, all I wanted M to do for his birthday this year was to grow a beard but he seemed to think I was being silly. Sometimes I just wish that people will take me seriously. May be he will grow one for my birthday next month.

Getting Things Done

There have been a number of things bugging me of late and one way to get by is to keep myself totally occupied. A day after the little shopping spree last week, I began to mend things that have been waiting patiently for me to tackle since the beginning of the year. I mended two pairs of pants, a shirt, a pair of shorts and my footstool. Living in a throw-away society, it is easy to just chuck them all out and get new replacements but the mending process wasn’t that troublesome after all. It was easy peasy. Now that the footstool cover is fixed, I can put my feet up again when I watch TV. Hooray!

Another thing on the to-do list that we have been ignoring was our ‘shed’ or storage unit. We moved into the new unit in January and planned to return within weeks to properly sort our ‘junk’. At first we postponed the chore by blaming it on the hot weather – that’s justifiable. Then we postponed it simply because we had other fun things to do – pure laziness. So when M came home from his parents’ on Easter Sunday and announced that we should sort out the storage unit, I agreed wholeheartedly because I was sick of being lazy. We reluctantly went last Friday (17/04). OK, I admit it. There was a bit of bribing involved. Again, we were surprised that it took us only two and a half hours to restack everything systematically. M also got to re-organize his collectibles. It was wonderful to see how much extra space we have after we stored and stacked everything properly. We were very pleased with our efforts.

It feels so good to get things done. Now I don’t feel guilty like whenever I see the pile of clothes and footstool waiting to be repaired and when I think about our storage unit. They were all done. Even my Guinea Pig’s pouch is now made and almost ready to do its duty. I just need to put it in the wash to get rid of some marks (made with water-soluble pens) first. I think the next thing to tackle is the kitchen cupboard, particularly the big one under the sink. I want to completely re-organize it to improve its storage capability. This means that we are in for a trip to IKEA. Hooray!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Completed Finally

Way back in June last year I blogged about making a pouch. I remember promising to blog about it once it was completed. Well, after nearly a year, I have finally completed the project. It took me a few hours to put it all together. I originally planned to make the pouch from scratch by creating the pattern myself, but that didn’t eventuate because I ended up buying some patterns during a sale and one pattern featured this pouch.

The pouch is made to hold my Guinea Pig’s urn and because of that M and I wanted fabrics featuring a theme that is relevant to our charismatic pet. We had wanted a fabric with a vegetable patch print or one with prints of cucumbers or parsley. We looked everywhere and found this carrot one. Our Guinea Pig loved carrots too. After we found the carrot fabric, we had difficulty finding a second fabric. We even had difficulty deciding what colour to buy for the ribbons and once we had settled for green, we were unable to find any grosgrain ribbon in that colour.

The project was on and off for a while until my world came crashing down for a second time in late July when I found out what could have happened to my Guinea Pig’s cremation. That was when it was put on hold indefinitely because I was too distressed to want to spend hours making something for a little friend who may or may not be inside the urn. Things have been finally returning to normal in the last month or two. While I am yet to be totally convinced that he is indeed inside the urn, I felt like I was ready to attempt this project again. So I spent a good few hours making the pouch yesterday. It was fun.

M was happy to see the product when he came home from work. Apparently the first thought that came into his head was: “Cool! She has finally got off her bum and made something beautiful.” Sewing is fun. Now that I have completed this pouch, I am feeling confident again and am ready to start working on the patterns I bought last week.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Lone Shopper Turned Nasty

Its April already and it has been a while since my last bit of retail therapy. There is just no way I can last till my birthday without splurging a bit. Grocery shopping and paying bills do not count as retail therapy; neither is buying pressies for other people. On our way to grocery shopping on Saturday, I was dragged into Southgate because M wanted to buy a CD. As a result, we entered the city via Elizabeth Street and I saw a note stuck on the window of a popular craft shop announcing a 20% discount of everything in store and sewing patterns (of all major brands) for $5 each for 3 days only. On reading that, I instantly wanted to buy quite a few things in there but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time for me to visit the shop that day. I plotted over lunch to go on Monday since it was not open on Easter Sunday. With a devilish smirk I thought that if M bought a CD for himself then I too could buy myself a little something.

Well that little something turned into a small pile of patterns and gadgets that ended up costing close to 5x of what M paid for his CD! I felt extremely guilty after the initial high and after receiving news that my Mum will be off again on another trip overseas, the nasty me appeared to wreck havoc within the confined space of our little pigeon hole. I was Miss Impossible and M bore the brunt of it all. LOL. He was accused of not being proactive and offering too little support. He probably wondered how a bit of retail therapy could turn so nasty.

$5 per pattern is really a bargain. The recommended retail price for each of those three patterns I bought is normally around $15 - $17. This means that I saved as much as $30 on the patterns alone. As for the gadgets, I am not sure yet if they are any good. I didn’t do enough research online before purchasing them but I do admit that I am quite a sucker for little gadgets. I mean I do know basic embroidery and I also think it is quite possible to make a yo-yo without these two pieces of plastic but I am very curious to find out for myself how they work. Do they really make things easy? Besides, I am quite a fan of the range of products by Clover. The dizzying effect of a little retail therapy even caused me to downplay the indifference of the shop assistant towards me but it’s obvious that it wasn’t dizzying enough for me to not notice what was going on though. I remember thinking that while I didn’t receive a bright and cheerful service like the previous customer, I should be grateful that I was allowed to buy the things I wanted. How pathetic?

When I went shopping on Monday, I went on my own. I like my own company because it gives me ample time to browse and make ‘careful’ decisions. However there are still remnant bits and pieces of my old self that totally disapproves of being seen in public on my own unless I am working or running errands. This came about from when I came to Australia. Months after my arrival, I learned that it wasn’t a socially acceptable norm to do anything considered to be a social experience independently. Activities like shopping, watching a movie, eating out, visiting iconic places and such must all be done so with at least one other friend (preferably in a group of 4-6), presumably to look like you have a social life. It’s a bit like the current trend to constantly check one’s mobile phone to read text messages. I am not sure if this came about because of the people that I hung out with then or if it has something to do with my then age group. It probably has something to do with being young and foreign. I found it troublesome and stifling but I hate to be judged by my own more than anything so that’s why I am still a bit bothered by being seen on my own in public to this day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

One Gorgeous Easter Egg

Happy Easter to everyone out there who celebrates Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Yakini Escaped!

I just saw on the news that our favourite gorilla went walkabout. He managed to climb out of his enclosure. The zookeepers lured him with bananas before sedating him with a dart gun. OUCH!

Yakini was born at Melbourne Zoo on November 20, 1999 by caesarean section. We were there at the zoo for his first birthday. He was playing with shredded paper and climbing on a red, plastic climbing frame in a playroom set up just for him. We have recent pictures of him and his half siblings but I believe that there is a rule that we are not allowed to load pictures of anything inside the zoo without their consent. So, I am posting a picture of a book about Yakini instead. I hope the photographer and author won’t mind as I am also ‘promoting’ the book. I don’t know what is more precious; the many wonderful pictures of Yakini’s facial expressions or the reactions of little humans when they see Yakini’s reactions to having a stethoscope placed on his little chest.

Hogging Some Good Books

We love the City Library in Flinders Lane. Two days after it first opened its doors to the public a few years ago, we visited it for the very first time and it was Love at first sight. So we went about signing up for a free membership that very day. We have been visiting it at least once a week ever since. Everyone who lives close to the Melbourne CBD should really pay this library a visit. They stock many new books and recently, M spied that they received a big pile of books from overseas. By borrowing, we got to ‘test drive’ books before deciding if we really needed to buy our own copy. This helps us to save $$$ and living in a pigeon hole like ours, we don’t exactly have the spare space to house every book we want to collect.

The picture shows the books I am currently hogging.

Where Underpants Come From – Joe Bennett
I am currently halfway through this funny book. As revealed earlier in another post, I love reading about Westerners’ experiences in Asia, particularly East Asia. The book is about the author’s journey to find out how underpants like the five-pack that he bought come about. I had wanted to buy a copy when I spotted it at Big W around the time when the Olympics were on last year but chose to stick to our budget instead. Recently in the news, a big company sacked some of their Aussie workers to move more manufacturing offshore. That move angered a lot of people and I suddenly found myself wanting to read this book ASAP. It was no longer available at Big W but luckily the City Library has a copy.

The Creative Family – Amanda Blake Soule
I have borrowed this book 3 times since I discovered it last year. This must be annoying to mums out there who are trying in vain to borrow it. Only bits and pieces are read each time because I am usually in the middle of reading something else. Yeah, I know that is very greedy of me. Anyway, I like the kind of living this author is trying to encourage. It is all very natural, simple and handmade. There are many creative crafts to make throughout the book and terrific activities for the whole family to explore together.

The Literacy Wars – Ilana Snyder
When I first saw this book at Borders last year, the cover design got me thinking about the middle-east for some reason but it has little to do with that part of the world and very much to do with one of my favourite topics in life – Literacy. It is unlikely that I will read this book from cover to cover. 4 or 5 of its 9 chapters seem very interesting.

Your Feeding Questions Answered – Annabel Karmel
This book is so new (Published in 2009) that I think the library forgot to give it a book cover. I might have been the first to borrow it and it probably was one of the books that arrived recently. Again I feel a little guilty for hogging a book like this. The book answers many questions a parent/carer might have about feeding. I haven’t read it from cover to cover but I am glad to learn that many of my answers somewhat matched the author’s in quite a few of the questions I have gone through. So, I may not be a mum of my own children yet, but I am proud to realise that years of working with little poppets have given me quite a bit of hands-on experience.

The City Library is fantastic even though there are a few changes that I don’t like, including the move to remove all junior non-fiction books from the children’s corner and placing them with the adult non fiction books. I think I know why they did it (conspiracy theories?) but if they think that they are successful in eradicating the ‘problem’, they must be blind. Maybe one day the junior non-fiction will be all together again in the children’s corner and I won’t have to go upstairs to search high and low for a junior title among all the books for grown ups. I will blog later on why I also hog books designated for children.

Late last year, probably for nostalgic reason, M and I visited the libraries that we used to go to before the birth of the City Library. Back in those dark times, we were members of the City of Port Philip libraries. The branches we frequented were the one at South Melbourne (aka Emerald Hill) and the one at Albert Park Village. I used to also occasionally go to the mini one in Middle Park. M came away from the libraries very quiet like he was biting his lip to avoid saying something negative. LOL. He didn’t say much until we were well away, probably for fear of hurting the feelings of the libraries/librarians. LOL. Let’s just say that we have been spoilt by what the City Library offers and that has changed our (mostly his) expectations.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

11 Months On & the Colder Days Are Fast Approaching

Today marks 11 months since our Guinea Pig left. That’s nearly a year ago! I remember wondering how I was going to get through Winter last year. And when I saw on TV what the company that handled my Guinea Pig’s cremation did to some pets just days before the Olympics (an event I was privately looking forward to), I thought my world had collapsed. The dark wintry days didn’t help one bit either. Winter used to be my favourite season because where I grew up; it was hot all year round. But since 2006, Winter has been pretty sad for some reason or another. I get teary and feel like a complete failure more than ever. Last year was particularly tough because I missed our Guinea Pig. Luckily Spring came and things became gradually bearable. Last month went quickly though. I was preoccupied with my dad’s surgery, so stressed out that I didn’t even dream of my Guinea Pig! LOL.

The night time temperature is certainly plummeting. I found myself digging for my Winter pyjamas on Sunday night. When I went to buy some groceries yesterday (because we didn’t do a good job last Friday), I had to wear an undershirt under my T-shirt and on the way home, I had to put a polar fleece jacket on. So is it time to switch the Doonas over? I am just not sure. It was warmish last week and coolish the week before that but this week so far seems a lot cooler. After years of living in Australia, I am still not quite sure what’s coming and what’s going in terms of Melbourne’s weather. The cool blast in Autumn could be just like the warm surprise in Spring. It’s like a mini experience to prepare everyone for what is likely to come in the next season.

The thought of Winter reminds me of something I have been wanting to get. No, it’s not a whole new Winter wardrobe but I did see a few pieces (BOSS Orange) at a fashion show (free event) that I really, really want. Living a frugal life can be very boring sometimes and living so close to the city, I am also constantly blasted with all sorts of temptations almost on a daily basis. I will spend the next few days deciding if I should get this item for Winter and if I do, I will blog about it. It’s not something pricey but it does have a higher price tag than other similar items in that shop. LOL.