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!