Tuesday, 8 Nov 2011

Flowers make me happy

Posted in Home at 1:02 am by betherino

Cut flowers make me ridiculously happy. It’s really lovely how whenever I come home the first thing my eye is drawn to is the vase of happy flowers on the dining table and it makes me smile from ear to ear. They aren’t too expensive from Far East Flora either, and even though I have like absolutely zero flower arranging experience or any sort of know-how whatsoever, I still manage to get them into the vase and looking decent. Probably my flower-arranging expert friends would gasp and faint in horror at my inexpert handling of blooms but hey :D we can’t all be experts, so forgive my amateur fumblings. I basically just want all the flowers in the vase and looking like flowers!

Indian bicolor roses

All the pictures are taken with my humble iPhone – I know, I really should be utilizing my actual camera but aargh the iPhone just makes me so lazy – it’s a decent camera and I can wirelessly transfer the pictures to my computer. Heh. Anyhoo this time I bought some lovely Indian roses in two different colors. I really love the shading of the roses!

flower arranging for dummies

So all I really do is put the first stem into the vase and approximate how long I want the stems to be. I snip off the extra bit with my trusty gardening shears (which are delightfully rusty) and then lean the first rose against the edge of my glass vase. Then I pull off all the leaves except the topmost ones, and place the stems into the vase, alternating colors and crisscrossing the stems to give them some support and basically just stuff them in one by one. I’m sure flower-arranging experts are all cringing by now. Can I just use the excuse that I like the wild, untamed look? :D

vase full of roses

That’s pretty much just it. I have two friends who are mad into flower arranging and who do absolutely beautiful, delicate work, and I’ll show some pictures of their work sometime this week :) They really are brilliant and do *actual* arranging unlike what I do, which is flower stuffing, heh heh.

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Wednesday, 20 Jul 2011

Terribly tempted

Posted in Home, Musings at 2:53 pm by betherino

to remodel redecorate redo something in my house – but gosh, the limits of time and money and laziness. I get itchy feet and there’s something I want to do – right now I’m leaning towards a new paint job – but at the same time the thought of having to actually DO something makes me feel exhausted inside. I’d rather hire someone to paint, but that will cost; I don’t mind doing it myself but that means a whole lot of moving furniture and effort. Plus it’ll be difficult to convince the husband!

I really would like to repaint the bedroom and the study – though the study is really more hubba’s domain than mine – I loved the dark colors of our bedroom when we first painted it but lately it’s starting to look a little dull. I want a richer, deeper tone than the cloudy blue-gray currently on our bedroom walls.

I wish there were a way to jazz up the living room as well. For some reason everything’s starting to look a little pale or dull, and some bright colors would really make me happy. I’ve always been a color person and the neutral tones of the house are starting to bug me a little bit. What could help? A colorful couch throw? Colorful cushion covers? A bright new rug?

I think though my first step should really be…clearing up my messes at home. My craft desk looks like Spotlight exploded over it, and my kitchen is getting increasingly cluttered…

Wednesday, 15 Jun 2011

Hemming the new curtains – a tutorial-ish sort of thing

Posted in Home at 11:09 am by betherino

I went on a bit of a curtain rampage – I was thoroughly sick of the ones we had in our living room and study. Why I was sick of them when I’d personally picked them out? Curtains in Singapore tend to be of the really obiang nature – overly ornate, overly fussy, shiny, gilt, scrolls and ugly flowers all over them. I hate hate hate. Luckily my bedroom curtains are utterly gorgeous – full-length, thick blue, white and maroon stripes of a heavy fabric that doesn’t let light in. In fact I’d gone back to the shop where my mother had found those curtains, but they didn’t have a single piece in a modern shade and pattern like the bedroom curtains. It was terribly frustrating. The ones I’d eventually purchased for the house were as simple as I could find, but the colors were dull and blah (beige and olive) and it finally got to me.

Old olive curtains

These were my old, olive, blah curtains. It actually has quite a nice leaf print on it but it turned out not to be very visible :/

I went scouting for curtains and after lots of looking, the best places to get more modern curtains seem to be Spotlight and Ikea. I even went to the expensive shops and all their curtain fabric is just so…old-fashioned yuck. Seriously, who wants velvet roses on shiny brocade? I could vomit. Why is it so hard to find nice solid stripes, or even polka dots, or a modern pattern in nice bold colors? Even at Spotlight, where there were nicer patterns, most of the curtains are pencil pleat, which is also old-fashioned (who has those kind of curtain rods anymore?) and not tab top or eyelet like I need. Most of them were also full-length curtains, which I didn’t want for the study and living room, and I wanted to spare myself the pain of hemming curtains. Also, they were pretty much out of my budget; I’m a stingy – oh all right, thrifty – girl who doesn’t like to be put out of pocket. Eventually I found a nice plain red linen tab top half-curtain that matched the color scheme in the study, and even better it was on sale! $12 for one curtain! Yay me.

The living curtains were a bit more of a challenge. I wanted a light color so that the living room would look airier and brighter, and I wanted a leaf print or a geometric print. Needless to say nothing fit my criteria (bah ugly patterns) so my only other option was Ikea.

Ikea has some gorgeous fabrics that can be made into curtains by their in-house tailor, and I was really keen on spending a bit more to make the perfect curtains for the living room. But hubba’s thrifty side exerted itself, it was late, I couldn’t quite find the perfect pattern, so in the end we decided to take the inexpensive option – these light Hedda Blad curtains.

Hedda Blad curtains

Although they’re long, Ikea gives a strip of fusible web tape, also known as iron-on fabric adhesive, to hem your curtains yourself. Now that I can do easily, because I don’t have a sewing machine at home (and the last time I used one was back in the 1990’s). Ikea does give instructions but I thought I’d put up a little tutorial of how I hemmed my Ikea curtains with the fusible web tape.

Curtains on the table

First I measured my current curtains – they were 180cm long, so I calculated that I would need to cut 70cm off my 250m long curtains. I laid them out on the dining table (you could use the floor) and folded the curtains at 70cm from the edge.

Measuring tape

I used a contractor’s tape measure instead of a tailor’s tape measure because the contractor’s measure is stiff and I needed to make sure the fabric was folded at 70cm evenly throughout the edge. It’s not as difficult to be accurate as it sounds. Just line up the edges and make sure they’re straight, and then smooth out the fabric and slide the stiff tape measure down the edge to make sure it’s even throughout.

Pinned fabric

I pinned the edges with needles (I didn’t have round-headed pins with me) to make sure they stayed, then I brought the whole thing over to the ironing board to iron the crease flat. Yes that ugly blue-silver shimmery fabric is my ironing board – I never got around to making or buying a pretty cover for it!

Ironing the crease flat

That’s me ironing the crease flat. Sorry about the thing in the top right hand corner, that’s my camera pouch. It was hard to take a photo with my left hand, holding the pouch to stop it from dangling, and iron with my right hand at the same time! I used the hottest setting (linen) on my iron to get a good flat crease.

Folding the second crease

After ironing, I folded the crease up another inch or so and ironed that flat as well. The Ikea instructions don’t ask you to do this, and want you to basically have a raw edge in your hem, but that’s just too ugly and I couldn’t let that happen. Once I’d ironed the two creases, I unfolded that second crease and cut off the extra fabric just inside the crease line. The second crease should be wide enough to hide your whole fusible web tape.

Fusible web tape

You can see clearly in this picture where the creases are and where the extra fabric was cut off. Then I just unrolled the fusible web tape, laid it in the crease, folded the fabric back over it, and ironed over the whole thing to seal it in. I didn’t bother to cut the tape to size. What I did was to iron slowly by segments, unrolling the tape as I went. At the end you don’t even need to cut off the tape. Just press the iron down firmly on the edge of the fabric and pull lightly on the end of the excess tape. It should melt clean off and the excess will come away in your hand, so that you have exactly as much tape as you need in the hem. Again I used the hottest setting – you should ensure the fabric is tightly sealed before going on to the next segment.

Repeat!

New curtains

Felt super happy with the clean hemming job and my new light day curtains!

Tuesday, 14 Jun 2011

A place to put pretty things

Posted in Home at 1:05 pm by betherino

So after much dithering we finally got our display shelf from Scanteak – there was a sale advertised in the paper so we tromped on down to have a looksee. Picked this baby up for $499 (U.P. $799 I think). Beautiful solid teak and narrow enough to fit in the corner!

Scanteak shelf

Lost no time in putting up some of my little elephants which have been living in a cardboard box since we moved in :/ Finally they get to breathe some fresh air again! I put out my favorites; and in order to try not to go overboard I put out one elephant for every other item on the shelf. Heh heh. Also you can see my two pretty To-fu Oyako figurines <3

Scanteak shelf window

The view from the other side. The shelf sits nicely between the window and our front door.

Future terrarium hopefully

I bought this little glass container with a view to making a mini terrarium. King and King Wong is having a sale at Nex and they’re selling these beauties in all sizes and shapes. They’re kinda pricey though – this tiny one is already $20, and the bigger ones which would make better terrariums are going for $50 to $80. You can pretty much get a complete terrarium for that price. Sadly in Singapore we don’t really have thrift stores selling vintage kitchen ware or glass items like in the States, so this is it. Tell yourself you’re paying to have the fun of making your own terrarium!

dream

I got this little chipboard “dream” from Spotlight. Like I’ve mentioned before, I love the idea of displaying words or letters, and this was perfect! The little elephant was given to me by my mother I think.

We picked up a new lampshade from Ikea as well – this gorgeous Renate one. Our previous embroidered lampshade from Ikea was beginning to get brown spots all over it and it was pretty much a goner.

ikea Renate shade

It looks boring when it isn’t on, but when the light shines through it, it’s absolutely gorgeous and very me!

Ikea Lampshade (Hedda Blad)

But of course Mister Murphy had other plans in mind. The same night we changed our lampshade and cooed over how pretty it was, the cat jumped up on the couch while I was snoozing on it. In my half-sleep I pushed Sasha off the couch in the direction of the lamp, she promptly knocked it over and it went sailing to the ground. The base cracked and now the lampstand is a goner :( The horrible thing is that my beautiful floor lampstand is no longer being sold at Ikea – it was the wooden Ekarp. Now they’re only selling the ugly chrome one, which doesn’t suit my living room at all. GRUMPS.

Just gonna have to suck it up and get another. Sighhhhh.

Thursday, 14 Apr 2011

Mini garden

Posted in Home at 1:38 pm by betherino

Disclaimer: my garden doesn’t precisely look like this anymore.

my little garden (plus kitty)

For one thing, my Blechnum Gibbum, the deer fern in the right corner, is slowly wilting away. Boohoo. I’m not sure why – though I’m guessing it might be lack of sun, though it’s supposed to do okay in the shade. I’ve isolated it and put it in the kitchen to try and revive it. Also, my impatiens isn’t quite that happy that it’s been raining and raining and no sun’s been coming in – at least I think that’s the problem; hope I haven’t overwatered it!

Gee, I suck at keeping plants alive.

Fingers crossed though – the rest of my plants are happy and alive, except the flowers of one African violet are past their prime.

Friday, 1 Apr 2011

More greenery ideas

Posted in Home at 11:34 pm by betherino

On the way back home today I stopped by Far East Flora to pick up a few plants. I was holding on to my laptop and had to cab home, so I chose my favorite three first – I’ll get more tomorrow when hubba drives us there! I picked up a red impatiens, a zebra plant (which has the most gorgeous variegated leaves) and a fittonia. I rearranged the plants and dumped the last of the dying plants today because it basically couldn’t be rescued. So now I’ve got four plants out there, including the helicopter plant that’s courageously surviving everything, plus the arrowhead plant that I left at my mother’s place.

I’ve been stalking the GCS forums and they are truly inspirational. These people have serious skillz man. Sigh, people like my mother with super green thumbs – everything flourishes under their care. I’ve decided I love vertical gardens – it fills blank space and makes the most of the area while making sure things look natural and messy – I’m not really into the manicured look!

I especially loved these two setups – click on the pictures to go to the forum pages and read more on how they did up their own gardens. This first one is by a person with the same initials as my mother! Is that the key to greenthumbery?? And yes – I made that word up. I’m an English teacher. I’m entitled. So this is CK Yeo’s garden:

CK Yeo

CK Yeo 2

CK Yeo 3

A favorite plant for many of the forummers seems to be the episcia – apparently it sprouts like crazy and makes lots of babies. Which is good, but I’m not entirely convinced by the thick, hairy leaves. Not the prettiest close up, but I might be forgiving of that if it’s going to be forgiving of my lack of, well, greenthumbery. There’s that word again!

This other very impressive setup is by user Davwong, who went and made his own bamboo rack for a vertical garden! *awe* it’s really gorgeous and I love the crazy garden feel – and, he used ninety pots in this one wall. *double awe* amaaaazing. I don’t even know how many trips he made to bring all those home, but boy was it worth it.

Davwong setup
This is the rack he made with bamboo poles and cable ties – and here’s how he filled it up!

Davwong

Davwong 2

Is it not awe-inspiring?? I’m working on convincing my parents to try something like this – Dad’s handy enough with his hands to pull something like this off, and Mom’s ridiculous plant skillz will ensure her plants grow crazily all over this thing. Can’t wait to see it!

And in the meantime, I’ll slowly grow my own little garden. Baby steps… :D

Tuesday, 29 Mar 2011

Okay, so no green fingers

Posted in Home at 1:59 pm by betherino

After my last post about my little corridor garden thing, all my plants proceeded to commit suicide. *cries*

Okay, to be honest, I think I murdered them. I bought this packet of flower inducer from NTUC which turned out to be a terrible mistake. All the plants I added inducer to proceeded to shrivel up, blacken, and die a terrible death. I now have three remaining plants, one of whom is dying a slow death, and the other two I hadn’t put any flower inducer in.

Sigh.

I’ve joined a local landscaping and gardening forum to try and wrangle names of hardy plants from them. The problem I’m facing is that lift upgrading is taking place now and sooner or later I’ll have to shift my plants into the house anyway. So I can’t get plants that are too bulky, or wimpy and unable to handle differing amounts of sunlight. I hope I can get some advice from these experts!

Some of the forummers have posted up pictures of their garden balconies – so so jealous!

Petunia's garden

Love the lush greenery of this little spot

Richard's garden

This is probably how my corridor is going to look – that definitely is an upgraded lift lobby. Bamboo!

Craftsman's garden

The frangipani tree is a DREAM for me. I love love love frangipani! Also the gerbera! And the little roses!

Can’t wait for my lift upgrading to be over so that I can have some permanence in my little garden. Or garden-to-be.

Monday, 28 Mar 2011

Armchair happy

Posted in Home at 12:51 pm by betherino

It’s been a horribly long and painful week for many reasons…so I’m looking at plush armchairs to make myself feel better! If I had space in the house to fit another piece of furniture, I’d get a nice statement armchair, retro looking, with as much wood in it as possible. Though honestly it would be best in a baby room, because right now I love lounging on my couch to do everything from reading to marking to just…napping.

My favorite is this vintage style rocker from Urban Outfitters (I know right? Apparently they sell furniture in the States; why not here??) which comes in some lovely antique shades – olive, slate and stone gray.

Mid-Century Rocker Chair

I’m so jealous because I really wish we had such furniture options open to us in Singapore. Seems like our only options here are modern and expensive (designer), cheap and functional (Ikea), or ugly Asian wooden laminate crap (Courts). I long for Bed Bath and Beyond. For Pottery Barn. For Urban Outfitters. West Elm, for crying out loud. And all the other shops that sell beautiful stuff. Sniffle.

Speaking of Ikea, I’ve quite liked this armchair for awhile but I’m getting a little sick of Ikea for statement pieces. I’d really love to broaden our horizons a little bit. Still, Ikea’s a good option for when you’ve got a tight budget. This Karlstad armchair has a pretty fabric!

Karlstad armchair

I like the little wooden peg legs the armchair sits on! This patterned fabric is my favorite, though they also carry a nice textured gravel shade called Isunda gray, for something a little more serious. I also love the idea of changing covers to suit moods or party themes or seasons.

Lush carries a range that I’ve always thought is beautiful and classic, with its curved lines and smooth polished wood.

Kuhl Lounge Chair

This one from their Wood + Woods collection is really easy on the eye and surprisingly comfortable! The wood is so finely polished it reminds me of bone. Which is a good thing in this case.

One great option for furniture in Singapore, though it doesn’t fit everyone’s theme or is everyone’s cup of tea, is restored vintage furniture. I grew up surrounded by restored furniture from places like Just Anthony, with Peranakan pieces scattered liberally around the house. ReStore is a recently-opened furniture shop that combines restoration with a cafe (we hope they are separate). You can buy practically any piece in the cafe and they’re done up gorgeously.

Teak Chair with Vintage Fabric

This teak chair with vintage fabric is one of the prettiest of the lot. The fabric is appropriately old school and the style brings back such lovely memories.

Tuesday, 22 Mar 2011

Everything in its place

Posted in Home at 9:44 am by betherino

I forgot to take a “before” picture, but last weekend before we went back to work we put ourselves through the horrible task of unpacking our suitcase (I much prefer the packing – unpacking sucks). I’ve always maintained that our house doesn’t have much storage space and it’s really been annoying that we’ve had to store our luggage in plain view in our bedroom. Yucks.

Hubs waved his arm dismissively in response to my plaint, claiming we had plenty of space in our storeroom. Prove it, I said.

So he did. And he cleared out the storeroom and repacked it almost single-handedly (I helped! I did! Really!) and managed to fit everything inside. We did throw away a bunch of stuff and reorganized a bunch of other stuff; after only 1.5 years of living in this house it’s amazing how much detritus we’ve already accumulated.

This is what our lovely neat storeroom looks like now! Love the birdie hook on the door that we bought from Hong Kong’s famous Homeless store.

The store

Yes, I do have to have extra storage for shoes in the store. Those are the precious pretties that are only worn out to dinners and parties and weddings. Yes, I have another shoe cupboard, filled mostly with my shoes. Yes, I have a shoe rack outside the door that houses the slippers and casual slip-ons. What’s your point? :D

A closer look

Also you can spy the kitty carrier, and the mahjong table, and the paper bag bin, and the alcohol corner. Ah, let’s take a closer look at the alcohol corner. I was most amused when I saw Hubs’ careful organization in play here. He’d neatly arranged all the alcohol together.

Alkie corner

Even the alkie that isn’t for drinking! Rubbing alcohol is not for consumption, guys :/ We use it to wipe off the walls before installing our 3M Command hooks!

Monday, 21 Mar 2011

The unveiling

Posted in Home at 9:47 am by betherino

Hubs and I saw this at a street stall in Hong Kong and it literally stopped me in my tracks as I gaped and tried to express my delight to hubba with sign language.

And so we bought it after bargaining a little; got it wrapped up securely and toted it to the airport and checked it in as Fragile. Once we got it home, the unveiling began, after 15 minutes of brief panic as we thought it had gotten lost at the airport (it later turned up at the odd-sized baggage desk).

The package arrived home safe and sound
The package!

The slicing
Slicing it open

Paper wrapping inside
Paper wrapping inside

Bubble wrap
Bubble wrap

Rip it off!
Ripping it open

Encased in bubbles
Encased in bubbles

Protective plastic
Shielded in protective plastic

We’ve had mixed reviews for our new painting so far; some people think it’s downright Communist (which it is, but in such a beautiful way), some think it’s super creepy (?????) and others immediately got it. Just like we did. And love it! I think the subtext is brilliant and also he’s really cute and somber and I like children. Hee.

It’s by an artist named Zhu Yi-yong (okay, more accurately, this is a replica which cost us much less) who did a whole series of Chinese people making the red thread star. We actually were offered the little girl version as well; on hindsight we wish we had brought her home too!

Zhu Yi Yong girl
I wish we’d brought her home too.

We’ll probably be hanging our new little boy (I’ve named him Xiaoming, much to hubs’ chagrin) above the dining table; my only concern is that the sun comes in that way and I’m worried it might bleach or fade the painting?

Pictures when he’s hung up!

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