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.

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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!

Tuesday, 8 Mar 2011

Green fingers – or not

Posted in Home at 8:51 am by betherino

Hubba bought me two new plants the other day :) such a lovely surprise!

Our wedding flowers

And my basil flowered – though I was then told that basil shouldn’t be permitted to flower, so I pinched those suckers off.

Basil flowers

My parents are plant-crazy. When people came to our house we’d tell them to walk all the way down the corridor and they’d recognize the flat by its extreme foliage. “Like a jungle”, it’s been said. I don’t quite have enough space for plants in my place because our four-room flat doesn’t have a balcony, but I have a teensy bit of a corridor out my door and a window grille. Initially I’d teetered my plants on the ledge, but because of the HDB grille (I suppose to stop people from climbing into my house from the corridor) the pots can’t all rest fully on the ledge, making for a precarious situation when there’s a strong wind. AND, that corner is always a veritable wind tunnel during rainstorms, so hubba and I have spent too many afternoons on our knees wiping up spilled soil from our wooden slats in the doorway. Not fun.

Plant doorway

So after the recent spate of rainstorms I decided enough was enough and moved all the plants to the floor. I figured they get enough sunlight – sun comes in that way directly on the plants at about 4-5pm – and they hang nicely over the parapet, yet with the railing they won’t ever fall over and be a hazard to others. Win-win, right? But for some reason lately all my plants have been slowly and quietly dying off. My chilli plant was the first to give up and slowly shriveled and shed all its leaves. Now my super hardy periwinkle is curling up and breaking up, my brand new gerbera is wrinkly and limp, and I’m beginning to seriously panic. I’ve never had really green fingers but thus far my plants have always survived quite easily. What’s happening?? :(

I’m moving my gerbera back to the ledge to see if it’s due to lack of sunlight. I don’t think its water – I haven’t changed my watering habits, so I don’t know what on earth is eating my plants :(

Our other solution is to get those plant troughs we can fix to the ledge and display the plants there. Though I do prefer a row on the ground as well – it’s really pretty there. Sigh. Maybe I should get hardier plants that don’t need direct sunlight to border that area.

Friday, 25 Feb 2011

Blushing pink

Posted in Nailin' It at 5:34 pm by betherino

Pantone’s color of the year is honeysuckle, in celebration of all things pink. After some deliberation, I’ve decided I quite like it.

Pantone Honeysuckle

I’m not much of a pink girl myself, but occasionally I like to indulge my girly side, and so this week my nails are bright and joyous purply-pink. I’d just gotten my package of new polishes from Nail Vibe, and I wanted to try out all my new toys! I thought I’d go with the diagonal French tips again, this time in different colors.

OPI Houston we have a purple and OPI Pearls of wisdom

The base is OPI Houston We Have a Purple, from their Texas collection. Very apt for me since we’re going to watch Jeff Bridges in True Grit later on. It looks red in the picture but it’s really more of a purply-pink. When I first stroked on the polish, I was surprised at how thin and watery it was. The first coat was really translucent and I ended up putting three coats on to get a more opaque effect. I thought at first maybe there was something wrong with the polish but according to OPI, this is the “sorbet” effect it’s trying to achieve. Now, after a day of looking at my nails, I’ve decided I really like it after all! The slight translucency gives the polish a candy jelly look. The color is vibrant and shiny and glossy, and the polish dries fast so it’s easy to get three coats on. I probably should have let it dry even more, because I’ve got a few teeny bubbles in the polish, but they’re small and few enough that it doesn’t bother me much. I was looking for a deeper purple though, and I realized that the one I’m looking for is OPI No Spain No Gain. I’ll be buying that next!

OPI Houston We Have A Purple OPI Pearl of Wisdom

The tips are done in OPI Pearl of Wisdom, from the Hong Kong collection. It’s a beautiful sheer opalescent shimmer with hints of pink and gold in it. It looks really pink on my nails and I’m not sure but I think it’s because the bottom coat of Houston We Have A Purple is showing through. The color is gorgeous though – looks good layered on brownish shades as well.

BNB-Glitter

I outlined the tips in BNB nail art glitter in gold; I’ve taken the picture from Nail Vibe because I can’t find it anywhere else on the Net. It’s a very thin brush that’s beautifully easy to draw with, even with my left hand. The gold flecks are crazy dense so the color looks fabulous. I have the silver one as well, and I really love the picture in Nail Vibe where Melva drew on silver tips on a dark blue base. I’m not yet adventurous enough to try greens and blues on my fingers but after seeing my friend’s OPI Jade Is The New Black, I must say I’m terribly terribly tempted!

Next week I’ll either be testing my new dotting tool or my China Glaze crackle polish!

Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011

Gruffle snort hee hee hee

Posted in General Awesomeness at 8:18 am by betherino

I’ve seen tons of gorgeous sculpted cakes on Food Network Challenge, but this has got to be one of my favorite. Three words: Playable. Angry. Birds.

Is this not an awesome cake?? I love the little icing birdies and pigs!

Angry Birds cake

I know someone who would love this, who just received an Angry Birds iPhone cover for her birthday…

Angry Birds Cake

I need to make this cake for someone!

And his son Ben is super cute with that shaggy mop of hair and cheeky grin. Awww.

All pictures by cake-constructor Mike Cooper, who’s even provided a how-to if you want to DIY one of these babies.

Monday, 21 Feb 2011

A pretty picture

Posted in Home at 11:35 am by betherino

Following my picture wall hanging fervor, I got my hands on three more frames to hang above the sofa! I’d said in my earliest picture post about how I wanted to put up some prints rather than all just photos, but the picture wall ended up being pretty much mostly photographs, except for the two mosaic tiles. So I decided to keep the prints to hang above the sofa in a triptych.

This time it was hubba who was reluctant to bang nails into the wall; we figured that the living room was more likely to be rearranged in the future so we decided to keep the wall nail-free. Well then, it was a perfect opportunity to try out the 3M Command Damage-free picture hanging strips I’d heard so much about.

3M Command strips

So I picked up a pack of three at Home-Fix at Ang Mo Kio Hub for $9.95. Make sure you read the package if you get these babies; I almost went back with a pack of saw-tooth picture hangers rather than these wire-backed picture hangers. Do note of course that these are definitely not as foolproof as banging nails into your wall; I’ve heard tell of these hangers falling off walls and of them taking the paint off the wall. So don’t hang anything too valuable or too heavy, and avoid breakables. My frames do have glass in them but we hope that if they fall, they’ll land on the sofa first!

I drew up my trusty diagram in Illustrator first to make sure of the dimensions and locations of the hooks. Using a piece of string Blu-tacked to the wall (we don’t have a spirit level), we marked off the hook locations in pencil. Following the instructions on the back of the 3M package, I cleaned off the areas with isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol, cheap and easily available at pharmacies) and let them dry. For good measure I cleaned the backs of the hooks as well. If you miss this step out, the hooks won’t adhere cleanly to the wall.

3M picture hanger

When all three hooks were secured firmly to the wall, we waited a little more than an hour (the hubs fell asleep) and then I went ahead and put the pictures on the hooks. Rather than the thick, awkward wire provided by Ikea, we’d bought thinner, braided picture hanging wire which is much more flexible.

Ta-da!

Prints triptych

The prints in the frames are just card stock from Made With Love. I love this idea because I can change out the prints to suit different seasons or festivals, or even for themed parties. Can’t wait to put up Christmas prints!

Here’s a closer look at the paper – I’m sorry for the poor quality pictures, I used my iPhone and the light wasn’t too good.

Prints right

Prints left

These prints are actually from last year’s autumn collection, but the colors perfectly match my living room color palette, with its browns and blues that match our carpet, lampshade and wooden furniture.

Shag carpet

In fact, the first thing we had done to spruce up our living room was to splurge on that carpet from Arab Street. It cost us about $220 after much spirited bargaining and is made of shag pile that my kitty can’t destroy. In fact, she loves sleeping on it so much she disdains kitty beds. I love the large leaf print and the muted tan shades.

Kitty

I’m really happy with the way our living area is getting more personalized and more decorated! We’d started out simply because of our tight budget when we got married, but now that we have settled in it’s really fun to do my little decorative projects one by one.

Friday, 18 Feb 2011

Weekly Etsy picks – Shake ’em up style

Posted in Etsy picks at 9:55 am by betherino

I know, at home we haven’t much use for these; home-cooked food is usually seasoned perfectly (to the cook’s liking, that is) and woe betide the person who, after tasting, reaches out for the salt and pepper shaker. To avoid that very situation, we don’t even have salt and pepper shakers at home. But this week’s Etsy picks are deliciously cute! I really like the idea of little open bowls – it’s a great way to embody the idea of a “pinch” of salt or pepper. I can see them brightening up a table in a casual little cafĂ© or restaurant. To keep things hygienic, I suppose one could pair them with some small pretty matching spoons.

Salt 'n' Pepa

Thursday, 17 Feb 2011

Nailin’ it: Diagonal French manicure

Posted in Nailin' It at 11:41 am by betherino

Because I’m terribly self-indulgent and am rather proud of the fact that I can pull off a not-too-shabby self-manicure, I’m going to feature my fingers whenever I do something interesting with them. Like this week’s diagonal French manicure!

Diagonal French manicure

My nails chip really easily so it’s rare that I get all of them long at the same time. Too often my nails suffer from “onion peeling” where the top layer peels away; it gets weakened and thin and I end up cutting them short in frustration to start from scratch (pun not intended). I think also because I’m always on the computer or on my iPhone, my nails get stressed as well and end up breaking. This is one of those rare times that all my nails have remained intact!

NailTek Intensive Therapy TheFaceShop top coat

To keep my nails strong, I use NailTek II: Intensive Therapy for Soft, Peeling Nails as a basecoat. My OPI top coat has gotten thick and sludgy, resulting in blobby, bubbly nails; so I’ve just gone and bought TheFaceShop’s top coat, which cost me a grand total of $2.50 and works just as well, I think.

OPI Get Me To The Taj On Time OPI Alpine Snow

This week I wanted to go back to a classic French color on my nails after doing a dark glitter French last week, but at the same time I got tired of the same old same old lines. So I decided to try a diagonal tip instead, using double coats of my favorite nude pink base, OPI Get Me To The Taj On Time (from the India collection) with classic OPI Alpine Snow tips.

I started midway through the nail and slanted up to the very edge. I was quite pleased with the result but something seemed to be lacking – it just seemed a tad plain. So I Googled “diagonal manicure” just to look for some inspiration, and found this picture:

Diagonal French

The gold stripe outlining the tip seemed perfect. That’s what it was lacking! The gold line would also be perfect for hiding the irregularities in the white tips (self-manicures are never perfect). But I didn’t have the gold glitter pen, so I made do with what I had – silver glitter SL211 from TheFaceShop.

The Face Shop SL211

I simply painted over the white tips to give a little silver glitter sheen to them and make it a little more interesting. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but close enough!

I get all my nail polish equipment from Nail Vibe. I’ve just sent in for another batch of polish and this time I’m going to get my hands on those gold and silver polish pens to do outlines with! Excitement.

Tuesday, 15 Feb 2011

Branching out

Posted in Home at 11:12 am by betherino

We’re seriously considering the branch bookshelf idea and are looking around for a carpenter to do the deed! I wonder how much it’ll end up costing – we enquired after custom-making whole cupboards and those cost around $2k, so I’m hoping that a branch bookshelf would be substantially less that.

In the meantime, I’ve been looking at some other branch bookshelves to get some inspiration for the design. The thing is that the whole point of the shelf will be to display all the little knick-knacky things we’ve got lying around; thus it’s a necessity that most of the display shelves are horizontal or at least as on a gentle incline as possible so that the dingdongs won’t fall off. And I feel like the point of an oddly shaped shelf would be that the arms or shelf sections aren’t necessarily straight. This isn’t a problem for books but would be more of a problem for the purpose we have in mind…

The other criterion I have for the branch bookshelf is that it’s got to be sturdy enough and have enough display space for more than just one thing at a time.

Branch Shelf

This dark version is by West Elm (why oh WHY don’t we have more of these kind of furniture stores in Singapore? I hate Courts with a deep dark vengeance and their ugly, common laminate cookie-cutter furniture).

West Elm branch

It’s interesting, but not quite what I’m looking for – firstly, the lines are a bit too straight. I know, I said I wanted straight shelves, but I’d like the rest of it to be a bit curvier and a tad more organic. Secondly, there’s not much space up there to put anything! I do like the color though, and I like the idea of putting a sidetable beneath the shelf – that would solve my storage issues.

And if you’re handy with tools and happen to have access to a miter saw, here’s an instructable for you to make this very shelf.

A Shelf in the Wind

I love the curves on this one! It’s called ‘A Shelf In The Wind’, and it just calls out for you to run your hands over it. The idea came from the thought: “what if a simple shelf moved with the breeze that enters the front door?” I think it’s beautiful!

A Shelf in the Wind 2

But again, little display space.

Pottery Barn branch shelves

These Elmhurst branch shelves come from Pottery Barn Kids (O haven of beautiful furniture, how I love thee dearly). Still not quite what I’m looking for, these shelves are a little too kiddy (well they are sold in the kids department). I do like the mural idea behind them. Definitely more ideal for a children’s room!

Hmm now that I’ve done this post I’m feeling a little wistful about losing the extra storage space that a buffet cabinet would provide. Our place so lacks storage space that we’ve got things lying around that we simply can’t find space to hide in the store room or elsewhere. Maybe we should look into installing more shelving in our store room, too.

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