Sunday, December 18, 2011

He takes home the medal; she ends up making more bags! *grin*

Yup! That’s what happened last year when my hubby took part in the Penang International Bridge Run, and it’s been repeated again this year, not that I am complaining, actually. LOL! *grin*

I am very happy to blog report that I successfully managed to learn to make 3 bags during my 2 day bag making class from the 19th to the 20th of November. The bags this time around, except for one, aren’t that complicated as last year’s bags as I think I was a little bit unadventurous this time around. No, make that I was being more realistic this time around as I know I would not have that much time to spend finishing the bags if I don’t complete them during the class once I am back in Kuala Lumpur as I will be having my nose grinded into my Assignments right up until March next year, God willing.

I had made the purchase for the templates and gotten all the preliminary instructions from Corine during one of my earlier working trips to Penang about more than 2 months ago when I had some extra time after my meetings, before flying back to Kuala Lumpur.

By purchasing the templates and getting the instructions earlier, I would be able to make some early preparations before the class like have the templates all cut out, the interfacing all ironed onto the fabrics, and have them all cut out ready to be put together during the actual bag making class. This way, I get to complete making the bag faster, and completing the bags faster equates more bags that can be made in the same amount of time! LOL!

However, as it turned out, I didn’t get to have all the preparations ready before the class as I fell sick just days before the trip to Penang (talk about last minute preparations! LOL!) , and besides, I was busy working on my Assignments, which I think made me fall sick from all the stress of working on the paper. This bag making class would be just perfect as a stress buster.

But all was not lost though as I still managed to prepare at least one bag before the class, and I had planned to finish the preparations for the other 2 bags in the hotel room the day before the class. Talk about squeezing in time at the last minute! LOL!

Anyway, on the first day of class, I did not manage to finish even a single bag. Even my hubby found that odd. I blame it on my lack of efficiency as it had been quite some time since I last did any sewing or crafting due to heavy work load at the office. It took me some time to get back into rhythm of things.

Also, I had another new and exciting thing introduced to me by Corine on the 1st day of class. Corine let me use her latest addition to her family of sewing machines – a brand new Brother Innovis QC 1000!

It is one awesome machine, and I think I might have just fallen in love with it! LOL!

The Innovis QC 1000, to me, is a cross between the BERNINA and the JANOME, but at slightly more than half the cost of the BERNINA. That, to me, is affordable as it is almost the price of my JANOME. Eerr…, I am not buying it, BUT, if ever I want to get another sewing machine, it just might be the BROTHER. *grin*

One of the things I like about this machine is its large touch-screen LCD.

Also, I like that all the basic feet are all kept within the machine, even the bobbins too.

No more having to lug around the box of feet and bobbins to class, as, I have, at numerous occasions, ended up not able to do any sewing in class when I accidentally left behind my box of feet and accessories. No chance of that happening with this machine, except if you buy more extra foot. But then, they will be foot you won’t usually use all the time for the basic sewing.

Another thing I like about this machine is that I can make adjustments of the needle to every 0.5mm, and the needle threader is just awesome!

I thought that the needle threader on my Janome was awesome already, but this machine’s needle threader is even more awesome as the thread clicks very easily into the needle.

OK, enough about the machine. Yup! I am in love with this machine alright! LOL!

Back to my bags, I left Corine’s hut on the first day of class feeling a little bit incomplete when I had nothing to show of what I did the whole day, though I had fun playing with the Innovis.

I left with loads of homework though. I had to get some hand stitching done in order for me to move on to the next step. I did not want to spend time hand stitching in class as I could do that in the hotel room. I would rather spend my time in class doing all the machine sewing and the cutting where I would need Corine’s guidance to proceed.

I slept at midnight that first night, doing my homework – hand stitching and ironing the interfacing; and slept just as my hubby got up to get ready for his run.

Early the next morning, I took the cab with my son to Corine’s house, leaving my hubby to rest in the hotel room after his run to recuperate.

This time, I was the only student for the day (the day before, there were a hive of activities with about 4-5 students taking classes at the same time), thus allowing me to be able to work faster as Corine also helped me with some of the hand stitching that needed to be done.

When the class ended at 6.30pm, I was about ¾ done on the One Nighter or overnight travelling bag, ½ done on the Xora bag and with only the hand stitching and the bag handle to sew on the Omra bag.

Here’s a photo of the inside of the Xora bag which I am in the midst of hand stitching.

I just love these clips I bought from Corine. It takes away all the pricking from the pins which is almost certain I will get when I use pins to baste for hand stitching.

I completed the One Nighter bag in the hotel room the next day after breakfast.

What do you think?

When I first saw the sample bag at Corine’s, I thought it looked more like a diaper bag. But when I completed my own version, it no longer looks like a diaper bag. But definitely, it won’t be my One Nighter bag either, what with all my toiletries, make-up bag, telekung, and at least one change of clothes to pack, this bag certainly won’t be able to fit in all those! LOL!

Instead, I think this bag would make a very nice document bag. What do you think?

I will put up photos of the completed Omra Bag and the Xora bag when it is fully completed, which, for now, I wouldn’t know when that will be. Hopefully next year after March, or,maybe, just maybe, earlier! *wink*

Saturday, December 10, 2011

All hung up!

One day after coming back from one of my meetings at Sultan Abdul Samad building, I came across a shop that looked like it was selling things that shop owners would usually buy to put up or organize their things in the shop. You know, those bars with hangers to hang clothes, bags etc?

I have been looking for some sort of organizer or hangers to hang up my handmade bags so that it will be easier for me to see what I have made, and so, easier for me to refer to it should I forget how to make it. It will also be easy for friends and future customers to see what bags I have in a more organised way.

So, yesterday, Friday, 9th December 2011, during my long lunch hour break, I decided to hop on the LRT from my office to the Masjid Jamek Station and check out the shop.

A whole new world opened up in front of me as soon as I stepped into the shop! Talk about being a frog under a coconut shell (Katak bawah Tempurung). LOL!

They have so many things which I have been wondering where to get if and when I open up a shop, and now I have the answers! Well, most of it, at least! LOL!

I don’t know how to describe the things they have and I was too shy to ask if I could snap a photo of the shop. But, knowing Malaysians, especially those that are ignorant of the power of IT and the blogging world, I am sure the shop owner would say No. So, to save myself the embarrassment, I said nothing, and just talked to myself silently and controlled my excitement from within. *grin*

Anyway, I came home with the handbag hanger like I had planned on buying. Imagine me carrying this on the LRT? LOL! It came dismantled but still it was long and quite troublesome, but, I carried it back anyway. *grin*

It is supposed to be used to hang my handmade bags, but, since I don’t have time to sort out my sewing area at the moment, I decided to temporarily use it to hang my handbags I bring to work. My bags looks more organised now rather than having them all stacked up in a box at the corner of the room.

I can see the bags I want to use immediately instead of having to rummage through my wicker basket looking for the right bag.

I think I will get another one instead of bringing this down to my sewing area for my handmade bags and leave this present one in the bedroom. It looks good at the corner of the room. I told my hubby we can even use it to hang the clothes we want to wear for work the next day – have everything all hung up ready to wear the next day! Neat, huh? LOL! *wink*

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Going Bananas!

It's finally done! I finally completed the Banana Bag for Mel!

I started on this bag in April 2011, but I could not complete the bag because I could not get a strap that comes with a leather tab like the one in the original design on the bag I learnt from Corine in Penang in November last year.

Mel ordered this bag during the NNC Anniversary Meet in March 2011. I told her that I would get it done in two months time. I did, but minus the strap.

I had bought my strap with the leather tab from Corine, but when I wanted to order the strap from Corine for Mel's bag, Corine no longer had stock of it and wasn't planning to order anymore so soon. So I tried contacting this lady in Penang who does leather things if she would be willing to custom make me the leather tab. I could buy the strap myself and put them together on my own.

Unfortunately, she was no longer willing to take custom orders because she was tied up lots of orders for custom made leather bags, her core business.

Corine offered to show me how to make my own tab but using PU instead. I was supposed to drop by her house during one of my many trips to Penang for work. Unfortunately, I was always short for time as I rush from meetings to meetings when in Penang. By the time work is done, it's time for me to catch a flight back to KL.

I was beginning to get a little bit embarrassed that I am taking longer than 2 months before I could deliver Mel's order. That's not good when you are in the business line. I had to find a way to buy the leather tab somewhere or try making my own from PU like what Corine suggested.

I was going online almost every spare evening I have in search of the tab, but all in vain. I could either be searching at the wrong place or I am not keying in the right key words. I only know that it is called a tab. For all I know, it could be going by another name.

I eventually ordered 2 pieces of PU on eBay in two different tones of browns in an attempt to make my own tab. It didn't work. It just did not look right for the bag.

I spent several nights trying out different ways to attach the PU tab to the bag, but nothing seems to look like how I imagined it to be. I went to bed on many nights feeling frustrated.

I was about to give up when suddenly an idea popped out of my head one day.

I imagined the idea that I had in mind, when done, would look sweet and cute. Now it is a matter of whether Mel would like it, it being lacy and all. Not many people like laces, so I can only hope that Mel wouldn't be one of them.

The result of my idea? Here it is, lace and all....

What do you think?

Why the need for the lace, you might say? Why couldn't I just have the handle sewn directly onto the bag? Well, I did try but I didn't like the look where the strap meets the bag. It did not look right, neither did it look nice. It looked like an after thought and not much thought and time was given to the detailing of the bag. It's just not me to make something that looks like an after thought.

If you don't mind my saying so myself, I like the way I have managed to resolve this tab issue which has been "haunting" and bothering me for the last 4 months since completing the bag body.

Here's a peek inside the bag to show off the Uniquely Aznique label. *wink*

I can now finally hand over the bag to Mel and hope that she likes what she sees. I hope that this bag will be Mel's constant companion each time she goes out with friends and family.

Thanks, Mel, for the opportunity to do business with you. I hope there will be more to come in the future. *wink*

Monday, November 28, 2011

Grinding my nose in Assignments

Early this year, the top management told us that this year, 2011, it’s going to be a much less hectic year compared to previous years when we were way above our heads with work trying to implement RMK9 projects. In fact, they told us, it’s going to be quite a relaxing year as there won’t be that many projects implemented under the 10th Malaysia Plan. It’s time to plan for some long term courses and back to basics courses to further increase our knowledge in the field of Project Management.

In the last 4 – 5 years since the 9th Malaysia Plan was launched, we have gone over drive trying to complete projects (did I tell you that I am working in the Goverment but work is like as if I am working in the private sector?) with very little time left to attend courses and seminars. So, this year 2011 would be a good time to start applying for all those courses while we still have time to do so.

And so, that was exactly what I did. I applied to take up a certification program to get myself certified as a Project Manager. It’s a 6 month program starting from July 2011. I wrote about this earlier here in my blog at the start of the program about going back to school.

Initially, we were to complete by January 2012, but due to some delayed start at the organizer’s side, we were given up to March to complete it. I thought that I was given a bonus time and could get it completed by February.

How much more wrong could I be. The minute I applied and got accepted into the program, life at the office front suddenly went into over drive with me having to travel almost weekly, sometimes even having to work on weekends in some months.

After all the travelling for work, and with back to back meetings almost daily at the office, I could hardly find time to sit down and write my paper. I was mentally and physically tired coming home from work every day.

I have 3 papers to write throughout the duration of the program. When others had already gotten past their first paper and already starting on their second paper, I was still struggling to write my first paper. It was clear that I would not be able to get my first paper done while at the office, as the phone calls keep coming in, with people coming in and out of my office to discuss project issues, not to mention the back to back meetings, and all the travelling.

I needed to stay away from the office for a few days, and leave it to my right hand officer to handle things at the office for a while as I try to get started on my paper which is getting to be 2 months overdue. And so, that was exactly what I did. I took 2 days off to kick start my paper. It was the same time that my son was having his year-end exams in school from 31st October to the 3rd November.

I thought I could kill 2 birds with one stone - stay home to work on my paper while he is in school, sitting for his exams, and then, after picking him up from school, supervise him study while I carry on working on my paper.

With the 2 day weekend, plus my 2 days leave, I had four days to get started on my paper. I used it to the fullest, taking breaks in between to do household chores like taking care of the laundry, sorting things out in the kitchen, picking Aiman up from school, getting dinner ready for the family, watch over Aiman doing his revision for his exams, and in between, when my eyes were starting to go bonkers and cross-eyed, I managed to catch some short programs on TV.

A woman can definitely multi-task. Give it to my hubby or any man for that matter; I am almost certain that they could hardly even complete half of what I could do! LOL! *wink*

I think that the 2 day break was worth it, even though calls from the office still came in, but it was very much under control, and I could solve those issues over the phone or via emails. Aaahh! The beauty of technology!

I managed to finish the first draft of my first paper during those 4days. I thought that I could complete the whole paper in about a week, but writing the paper wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Rather, it wasn’t so much writing the paper itself, but it was trying to get the evidence together to prove that what I wrote in the paper was really what I did was tough when not all the evidence I required could be found in the files, as some were required to be acquired from other parties. With the help of one of my staff, I finally managed to get most of them together.

I have spent the whole of this extended weekend, with Monday, 28th November being a public holiday, with yesterday being the first day of the new muslim calendar, or Maal Hijrah, or Awal Muharram, it really helped and gave me the opportunity to dive into my paper until completion, well, almost.

As of today, 28th November, I am now about 95% done on the paper. The other 5% is because I still need to get a few more evidence and information at the office, and I can only do that tomorrow.

I just hope that I can get all of the information ready by tomorrow as Tuesday, 30th November 2011, is the date of my first Assessment. I must say that I am a little, no, make that, very nervous.

I don’t know what to expect, this being the 1st of 3 Assessments which I will have to go through as part of the program requirement. I just hope that everything goes well for me. I hope that it will be a successful Assessment.

Wish me luck!

If all goes well, insyAllah, God willing, after Wednesday, it will be one paper down, 2 more to go!

Friday, September 02, 2011

NNC Mug Rug Exchange – Part 1

I am late again at updating my blog on this exchange. There were too many distractions, and I have so many things that I want to do, but so little time on my hands. Oh well! That's life!

Anyway, NNC had a Mug Rug Exchange early this year. It all started because a member posted a photo of a mug rug, and it got everyone crazy and wanting to do a mug rug too.

Margaret took the opportunity from the craze to organize a Mug Rug Exchange, but set the mailing out date to be in October 2011 as many were already tied up with other prior exchanges organised earlier.

However, as Margaret allowed those who finished their mug rugs early may send to their partners early, I got mine from Sally, my partner, in June. Our partners were a secret, so I was surprised when Sally passed her mug rug to me when she came over to my house last June.

I was speechless and in awe of what I saw upon opening the paper bag containing the mug rug and some tea bags.

Sally had made her mug rug using the log cabin design, and her workmanship is exquisite considering this was her first attempt at doing log cabins. What was more amazing was the size of the log cabin, which was really small, or, shall I say, minute, but Sally did an amazing job of it. I would never have guessed that it was her first attempt if she hadn’t said anything about it.

Even the back is lovely! I almost thought that it was also a patchwork piece until Sally told me it wasn’t. Such lovely work she did, you couldn’t even tell the difference.

Thanks Sally! You did a GREAT job! I love it!

As for the Mug Rugs I made, I wanted to personally hand over the mug rugs to my partners at the Bee which was held in July since I knew they would be attending the Bee. But, being the absent minded me, I forgot to bring it along. *sigh*

Now I would either have to mail them out or wait till the next Bee to be held most probably in October before I can blog about it here. So, in the mean, here’s a sneak peek………

Look out for Part 2 to see the whole mug rug piece……

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Going all Dotty......

A few weeks back when I was diagnosed with having low blood pressure and vertigo, I was given a 2 day MC and told to go back home and sleep. The doctor suspected that the vertigo was due to my extreme lack of sleep.

On the first day of my MC, I slept after having breakfast with my hubby and son before they both left for work and school. In fact, I slept almost all day. I only woke up to make myself and hubby a bowl of Maggi Mee each as my hubby decided to come back home lunch time to see if I was OK. Thanks, Dia!

I slept again after he left for work. I did not wake up until 5.00pm. I got up feeling restless and with a need to do something. I was bored of watching TV. I don’t watch much TV even when I am well.

As I was not able to be on my feet due to the vertigo, I decided that I might be able to do some simple sewing as then I would be sitting down most of the time. I ended up doing a simple bag that took me only about 3 days to make.

When I showed it to my hubby, he commented that I must be really sick and seeing circles when I made the bag. He said that it showed on the bag what I was experiencing when I made it! LOL! How right he was! I didn’t realise that! LOL! I was, in fact, seeing circles and the room spiralled whenever I get up too fast or stood too long during the time that I was experiencing vertigo and hypotension. LOL!

I think the bag has a retro feel to it!

I think if I make this bag from a flowery fabric, it might give the bag a different feel to it. I might just try!

Anyway, I kind of like the look of this bag. It’s simple and not too fancy, and it’s a quick bag to make. It’s big and roomy. It measures 16in at its width and 10in in height not including the handles. It is 3in thick. It is padded, by the way, unlike most of my other bags that have the normal interfacing. It gives the bag more body, yet it is light.

Here's a look at how the inside looks like. I made the pocket to have an edging made from the front fabric of the bag.

The original design calls for a short handle to be placed, but as I could not find a suitable short handle to go with it, and so decided to add the wooden rings instead and make the handles from the same fabric I made the bag from.

I might be putting this bag up for custom order too, but, again, it will have to wait until after I finish my certification program in January 2012.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bagged another one!

Remember the green and orange bag I blogged about a few weeks back which I made from a Japanese book I bought when in Penang?

Well, as it turned out, the book isn’t Japanese, but Chinese. My brother, Azan and friends at NNC pointed it point to me. My brother who knows a little bit of mandarin wondered how I managed to make my bags without knowing a word of what was written inside the book. *grin* Nothing is impossible when it comes to my crafts! LOL!

Anyway, my brother Azan, suggested that I ask my son, Aiman, who actually has had formal lessons in mandarin since he was 5, to help me to read the intructions. But, boys being boys, or, is that just Aiman, he’d rather be playing Angry Bird than help Mummy translate a Chinese craft book into English. *sigh*

Oh well, I managed to make a bag the last time with no help from him at all, and I think I did pretty OK. *grin*

Anyway, back to the present time, last weekend, I managed to complete another bag which I got the basic pattern from the same chinese book. I actually started on this bag first before I did the green and orange bag, but I had to stop when I could not find a suitable handle and also, I needed to find time to visit Kelvin to get a set of clasp for the front pocket – something I have never tried before.

Here’s the front of the bag with the pocket with the clasp I mentioned earlier.

Kelvin helped me to put the clasp on since I have never made a bag with this type of clasp before. It did not look too difficult to make, but it gave the bag that added value.

Here’s the side of the bag. I really like the design of this bag with this strip around the zippers, and it being brown in colour, Kelvin and some of his tudents who were attending classes there when I brought the bag in to put on the clasp thought that the brown fabric was made out of leather. It isn’t. It’s 100% American cotton. Cool, huh?

A view of the back showing the zippered pocket. .

It’s got another one inside the bag

By the way, the handles are from Sally. I bought them when I bought the handles for the green and orange bag. The handles suited the bag perfectly!

I initially thought that it would not suit the bag due to different brown tone to the strip around the zippers, but, when I put them together, I think it gave the bag another added value by adding more tones to the bag.

This bag measures 14in long by 9in high by 4in wide and is very roomy. I think it can even fit in an iPad. I know for sure it fits in my Sam (Samsung Galaxy Tab) comfortably.

If everything goes well, I hope to have this bag up for custom order at a price in the range of RM240.00 to RM280.00 depending on the fabric and handle design at my blogshop, Uniquely Aznique, by the end of year. I am sorry I can’t take in any orders earlier than December 2011 as I am currently taking up a certification program which will only complete in Janaury 2012. Only then will I be able to find time to make any bags. I will make an announcement here and at my blogshop when I am ready. Look out for it then.

In the mean time, look out for future postings too of future bag projects which I made from time to time when I can find the time in between my busy schedule (it’s like taking a break from the hectic work schedule and, as always, my crafts are very therapeutic. It calms me down, and helps lower my blood pressure and unpredictable temperaments. *smile*).

I have another bag already in the making as I write this which I started when I was experiencing vertigo and hypotension and not being able to stand up for long. I spent time sitting down and working on a simple bag instead. I will blog about that in another posting. Keep a look out for it! *wink*

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Breaking fast at a sight to behold

We broke our fast at the Wilayah Mosque last night.

We were to pick up my mom to take her out for the breaking of fast, but since we were not able to pick her up any earlier than after the breaking of fast, we told her to break fast first with something light so that she wouldn’t get too hungry as our journey from our house to my sister’s house would take us some time.

However, my hubby suggested that instead of driving from our house to my sister’s house only after breaking fast which would take some time to get there, he suggested that we go out as soon as we can after all our chores are done and break fast at the Wilayah Mosque, do our Magrib prayers, and then pick up my mum. That way it wouldn’t take us that long to get to my sister’s place where my mum is staying.

We did just that last night, and while there, I thought I would take in the sights around the mosque which is really pretty.

It’s one of the mosque which I find really beautiful, and my must add that this mosque was designed by an Architect from my department. Not many people know that.

Many think that the mosque was designed by a consultant. That happens all the time. When the design of a building is beautiful, the public thinks it’s the consultant that designs them. If the design is ugly and boring, the design must be that of the Public Works Department.

If a building gets completed successfully and on time, it’s the contractor that gets the credit and they are being glorified no end. But when the building fails like if the ceiling comes off, the roof leaks etc., it’s the Public Works Department that had failed to supervise the project properly even if the project was a Design and Build project and the supervision was actually done by consultants appointed by the Contractors themselves. It’s sad.

We do our work in accordance to the proper work procedures, but most contractors these days will almost always try to cut corners so that they can get a higher profit margin. When we apprehend them for cutting corners and issue out non-compliance reports (NCR), they become aggressive and threaten us with accusation letters and slander because, to them, we have made work difficult for them. They never want to admit that it is they that are wrong.

If they had done their work in accordance to the correct specifications in the first place, then we wouldn’t have had to issue out any NCRs, and they wouldn’t have had to redo the same job twice. But no, they will always try to cut corners with the hope that they can get away with it. They always try to bank on our sympathy. When we stand up to what is right, they start dropping names saying that they know this influential person, that influential person with the hope to scare us. Such is the attitudes of some contractors these days. Sad, isn’t it?

So far, my team and I have stuck to our principals and remain united in our stand to ensure that we receive buildings that will not compromise on safety, quality and stability, and are in accordance to the specifications outlined in the Conditions of Contract. We pray that Allah will always protect us and keep us all from harm, as we have had two of our Project Managers whose life was at risk when they were assaulted with sharp objects when they stood to their grounds. One was stab on the neck with a screwdriver, the other a knife on his thigh. *sigh*

Oopps! I am digressing again. Sorry! *grin*

OK, back to what this posting is all about, which is the beautiful sights at the Wilayah Mosque and also on the food at the restaurant that we took my mum out for dinner last night.

We had our dinner at this Restaurant in Mont Kiara, across from the Duta Tropika gated community housing area.

They offered Ramadhan buffet for RM49.00+, which I think was quite pricey, but since my mum enjoyed her dinner, it made every cent worth it. While my hubby went for the buffet too, my son and I didn’t. We decided to go for the ala carte.

I ordered the Lamb Shank while my son ordered Fried Mee. I specifically requested for the Fried Mee not to be spicy.

My order of Watermelon Juice with Lychee came only after repeated reminders, and after we had waited for more than 20 minutes. As for the Fried Mee, not only did we have to wait for almost 30 minutes before the food came, not to mention after several reminders, it came all hot and spicy that my son was sweating on his head like he was bathing sweat! LOL! Pity him.

Also, I felt that the menu was kind of misleading. It had listed the Fried Mee as having chicken, prawns, chives and Fried Egg. The mee came with everything else except the fried egg. When I inquired, they said that the egg has been fried together with the mee. Can you believe this? If the egg was going to be fried with the mee, you needn’t have to list it down. And, anyway, there was no evidence that the egg has been fried together with the mee. See photo to believe it.

Did they apologize for misleading us, and also for making us wait for 30 minutes for our order which eventually was not how we wanted it to be when they made it spicy despite my request for it NOT TO BE SPICY? Unfortunately, not! The apology was difficult coming. It only came after I told off the cashier that she could have at least apologized for the mistake. After all, she had made us wait 30 minutes already. I could have asked them to fry a fresh one, but, my son was already too hungry and we were not willing to wait again should they end up taking another 30 minutes to deliver our order.

For sure, we won’t be coming to this restaurant again! But, I am glad that at least my mum enjoyed her dinner and the Lamb Shank wasn’t too bad. I only wished that they had served it with bun or some sort of bread. I would have enjoyed it more.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The lonely flag.....

We were the first on our street to put up the Malaysian flag. There is only one other house a few doors away from our house that has put up their flag upon seeing our flag flying with pride each time the wind blows it from side to side. It stands with pride in our front yard. It is our show of patriotism.

But, what about the others? Why aren’t our other neighbours putting up flags? Why aren’t anyone else in this huge neighbourhood putting up flags? Has everyone lost their sense of patriotism?

OK, someone might get cynical and tell me that not flying a flag might not necessarily mean that you are not patriotic, but, why don’t you fly one?

A few years back when there was a competition for the most creative way of putting up flags and a big prize was put up for the winners, almost every other car and house had at least one flag flying. How sad. Does it have to take a big prize in a competition to be put up first before someone would fly the flag, as if to show pride and patriotism for the country? How pretentious.

In my department, my Unit has always been the first to put up the flags in our office. I encourage my stuff to put up as many flags as possible, and as creatively as possible, and no, I have no prize to reward them. I buy the flags for the office each year to add on to whatever we had already accumulated over the years. I buy the flags each year with pride. It’s my show of patriotism. The other Unit in the office will only follow suit if the bosses encourage them to.

No, we put up the flags not because we have less projects to do and so can spend time decorating our office with the flags. In actual fact, our office has the most projects compared to the rest of the other units, yet, we take time to show our sense of patriotism. It makes us proud (bukan sombong, tapi bangga).

I think Malaysians nowadays, in general, are less patriotic then the times when I was growing up and when my mum was growing up. My mum use to lament about how our younger generations are no longer proud of the country. They do something only if there is a reward at the end of it.

OK, now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that none of the younger generations are patriotic. I am saying that they are less than when we were their age. They are too busy chasing after the material things and to find out what's the latest gadget in town, and who's the first among their friends to get them.

To compete to see who flies the first flag? aaahhhhh! They might say that it is too old fashion. They would probably say too that I am outdated.

OK, now don’t start accusing me of saying that I am being biased. I say what I see and observe.

It is sad too that each year when the government calls for one night in a year to switch off all lights in support of Earth Hour in an effort to save the planet called earth, only a handful responds. Usually on my street, our house would be the only one observing the Earth Hour. How sad......

What does it take for us to show our patriotism for the country and our support to save the earth? Only when there is a reward for the effort? How sad........

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It’s the yeast!

This is another overdue posting, but since I had written this already earlier, but forgot to post it, I might as well put it up. So, here goes...

When I was crazy making bread about 2 months ago, but was having so much problems getting it right, I just wouldn't give up. I had to keep on trying until I get it right.

I tried making it again on 15 May 2011, but this time, I decided to make Cinnamon Rolls instead of just the normal bread, and it almost became another disaster, if not for some light bulb that lighted in my head! LOL!!

I measured everything according to the recipe, including the yeast from a cylindrical container I had bought some weeks back at the hypermarket. The expiry date shows 2013.

I started the bread machine like I always do, but in DOUGH mode instead of BASIC (Normal) as I would have to take out and roll the dough myself to make them into cinnamon rolls.

About 30 minutes before the dough was to be ready, I checked the bread machine and noticed that it was the same size as when I checked it an hour earlier. I suspect that something must be wrong with the yeast, but I had used the bread flour called for, and measured the milk, sugar and everything else correctly. So, I decided to do a test.

I read from the internet how to test to see if the yeast is OK or not. True enough, it was dead! A goner! LOL! Nothing happened when I added water and sugar to the yeast. Luckily I had a new packet of yeast I had bought just that week and decided to test that one too.

Within a few minutes of adding water and some sugar, the water became frothy. The yeast is alive!

Now what could I do with the dough that was in the machine? Not wanting to have it go to waste, I decided to experiment. I have nothing to lose, except for the dough, which, if my test did not work, the dough would be wasted anyway since it had only risen slightly due to the earlier dead yeast.

I took out the dough, and started kneading the new yeast which I had tested earlier into the dough. Because the water used to test the yeast wasn’t exactly at room temperature, my warm dough which I had taken out from the machine suddenly turned cold, and was beginning to collapse. Oh no! Now what?

A bulb suddenly lighted in my head when I remember reading somewhere that bread dough needs a warm place to rise. I turned on the oven and heated it up to about 10 degrees. I then put the dough which I had shaped into rolls into the oven but with the door slightly ajar so as not to get the baking started.

I was so relieved when I saw that the rolls begin to rise! I waited for about an hour, and when it looks like it was no longer rising, I shut the door of the oven and increased the temperature to 175 degrees.

If the first badge of yeast had worked, I think my rolls would have turned out better, but I was still glad that at least the dough did not go to waste, and it had increased to about 2/3 its original size.

The taste was great though! We had them for breakfast 3 days in a row! LOL! I am definitely making them again, and hopefully very soon, as I just love Cinnamon Rolls!

The following weekend, I tried making bread again, but this time, just the normal white bread. I was careful to check the yeast first before starting, and this time, it came out prefect!

Just look at the bread just taken out from the pan, and look at how lovely it looks out of the pan!

I can almsot smell the freshness of newly baked bread! I just can't wait till after the fasting month to start baking breads again!

Monday, August 08, 2011

NNC July 2011 Stitching Bee

Hi, everyone! It feels like it’s been ages since I last blogged. Busy! Busy! Busy! So, what else is new, right? LOL!

Anyway, before this posting becomes way overdue, I have to blog about our latest Bee which was recently held on the 30th of July 2011 at Level 2, The Gardens Food Court.

This is the 2nd time that the Bee was held there though the first time it was held at The Gardens, I was not able to be around. That particular Bee was held in honour of Shanny who came back for the holidays from Switzerland.

We actually had a Bee earlier to coincide with her (Shanny) coming back in early May at Sally’s house, but, being totally busy, I was not able to blog about it. I still hope to blog about it some day as I had a great time during that Bee too (since when has an NNC Bee not been fun? LOL!).

Anyway, back to the current affair at hand, which is the Bee which was held at The Gardens, I arrived at The Gardens at about 9.40am, about the same time Faizon arrived. I ran out of credit on my personal phone and so could not reply to Jo's and Faizon's smses.

I used my office phone to call Faizon and Paul earlier. Faizon did not pick up until the 4th time. I guess since it was an unfamiliar number, she didn't pick it up. I understood that, but, I guess when I persisted, Faizon had to pick up the phone! LOL! *wink*

Paul answered my call with a groggy voice; obviously he had just gotten out of bed! SORRY, Paul! *blush*

Anyway, I managed to show off the few new bags I just made to Faizon before Vivian arrived and showed us her lovely handmade book binding. 

Vivian also showed us her cute stocking animal. I think everyone thought that it was adorable and wanted to bring it back with them. LOL!

Faizon showed more of her lovely tatted works. I wanted to buy the lovely green tatted bracelet which coincidentally matched the green blouse that I was wearing, but forgot all about it when the others arrived.

Janet arrived soon after. I must apologised to Janet for not offering to pick her up at KL Sentral. I should have, but I had too many things on my mind yesterday that I forgot a lot of things yesterday, the most embarrassing was the fact that I forgot all about bringing the signature blocks for Zarina's Block Swap. I am truly really embarrassed! I felt like shoving my head under the table and kicking myself for forgetting about the blocks when I actually posted at the NNC board that I would bring it to this Bee to pass it on to her.

I have since made arrangement with Zarina to mail the signature blocks directly to those participating when I mail out my blocks to the rest of the participants. Thanks, Zarina, for agreeing to this arrangement and sorry again.

Zarina gave me a pack of lovely variegated embroidery threads as a trade off to my helping her to embroider the Signature Blocks for her. Thanks, Zarina. I will surely have plenty of use for it though it’s been ages since I did any embroidery on Em.

Mel arrived soon with a HUGE bag of birthday goodies for me. I think my jaw dropped to the floor when I saw all the lovely goodies in the big red huge paper bag. Everything was, of course, PINK! Well, almost all. *grin* Everything was all things cupcakes! There were cupcake cups – loads of them in different designs and sizes! Even the cute little serviette had cupcake motifs on it!

I especially like the box of very tiny cupcakes. I don’t want to unpack the box just yet, they are too pretty and I just want to see them in the box for now until I need to use them.

Mel also included in the bag of goodies a handmade fabric flower brooch which is awesome! I wear brooches all the time to work. I just need to match it with the clothes I wear to work and I am sure I have a Baju Kurung in peach!

There was also a card with the note “Here’s to a great baking adventure”. I am sure I will be having a great adventure baking cupcakes with all that Mel has gifted. Hari Raya is just 3 weeks away, and I was just thinking of making cupcakes this year instead of the usual square Carrot Walnut Cake that I make yearly. Only problem is, I am not that good at the decorating. Hmmm.......

Thanks again, Mel!

In the midst of my excitement of getting the birthday goodies from Mel, Tini and Paul arrived.

Paul brought along to show us the lovely birthday present he received from Diane recently. They were all so awesome! I especially like the hat pincushion, and everyone was trying to guess what the brim of the hat could be off made of. We guessed it right – it was made from a paper plate! Awesome idea!

I love everything about the gifts Diane made for Paul, but I love the scissor keeper with the cute stork scissors the most. They were so cute together.

While everyone just chatted away, Faizon, as usual, took out her tatting box and started tatting.

I should have brought my cross stitch to work on, but, like I said earlier, I was very absent minded that day. I had not been well the week before and things were also getting overly stressful at work trying to resolve issues with a very difficult contractor.

Earlier in the week, I was diagnosed with having low blood pressure and later, diagnosed with having vertigo. So, I have been a little bit imbalanced the last few days prior to the Bee. I was also not sleeping properly due to issues at work not being resolved. I think it all adds up.

While we were chatting away, Nigel, Mel’s son kept coming back and forth to show Paul some games on the iPhone. I think it was cute the game that Nigel showed Paul, and it kept Paul preoccupied with the game for most part of the Bee. *grin*

At about 12.00noon, I started feeling hungry as I did not have much of a breakfast before coming, and so decided to get myself a serving of kebabs with pita bread. It did not look the least bit appetizing but it was delicious. I think next time I’ll bring my son and hubby along to eat at the food court so that they too can enjoy this food, though it was a little bit on the expensive side.

It felt odd to be the only one having lunch while the others chatted away, but, after a while, Faizon joined me for lunch while the others carried on chatting away.

Mel had left to join her family for lunch earlier, and Vivian had left even earlier for another appointment. When Faizon and I were both done with lunch, the four of us, Janet, Faizon, Zarina and I went over to Art Friends to check out what’s there while Tini and Paul left together for another appointment.

I did not buy anything at Art Friend. I did not stay long as I had to be back in time to fetch Aiman from his tuition class.

I felt like it was a short Bee this time around, and I think I felt that way probably because it could be due to the fact that I was feeling not quite myself; I felt like as if I was floating. It could probably have got to do with the vertigo that I was experiencing in the last few days. I am better now, thank God, though I still try to avoid driving fast like I use to, not that I drive like a race driver. LOL!

Thanks for coming, everyone! Thank you Faizon, Vivian, Janet, Mel, Paul, Tini & Zarina. Can’t wait for the next Bee in October!