Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The More the Merrier Christmas Cookies

Yah, so I've said it many times that I do not like cooking or baking....except when it's something creative and fun to do.

You will recall my ordeal in trying to follow a recipe - click this.
You can see what we did last year round about Christmas here
And you can see what my Spaghetti, Olio....whatever...looks like.

This year I wanted to make gingerbread cookies again but the real fun part for me, is icing them.
Making the cookies is tiring for me. I decided to ask (on facebook) if anybody might want to make them with me. I had two people who were game. RJ and G arrived yesterday evening.

What fun we had coming up with these...

Look at how each person can have a different fascinating.

And then, for one of the batches in the oven I must've accidentally pushed the wrong button, and the poor cookies got...ummm...a tan?
I think I must've had Botswana on my mind....(where my hubby, youngest daughter and I are heading soon - SO excited!).

Ah well, make the most of it. We decided since they were black anyway, we'd pipe icing on some of them to look like penguins.......and then got carried away. Here's the back of a black plastic container with an aeroplane cookie flying above icing snow and an icing snowman, with the penguin cookies....

And the next day, I had leftover dough and icing so I got some little girls to come over to have fun. Someone asked how did you find SIX little girls in such a short time? Trust me, parents are more than willing to send them off with me especially since it's the school holidays now. They were already talking about next year's Christmas plans.....

See how even a child can do it? easy!

Thanks RJ, G and young ladies.....!

And Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas and a Malay Tradition

As Christmas approaches....

................................................Christmas wreath, our front door

... I am thinking of a wonderful tradition that the Malays have. My Malay friend informs me that Google says it is practised by the Malays particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

*For my foreign readers, when we say 'Malays' here in Malaysia, we mean one of the races of people found in this multi-racial country. The nationality of all citizens of Malaysia on the other hand, which is made up of Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and other races is Malaysian. The reason I am mentioning this is, some foreigners mistakenly call us, the people of Malaysia, Malays, instead of Malaysians.

Now that I've cleared that up...

............Winter scene on top of shoe cupboard, porch entrance - winter in Malaysia, HAH!

This is the tradition: On one of the Malays' special festive days, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, which is once a year, the family gathers and the children line up, eldest to youngest, to seek for forgiveness from their parents. (In some families, the parents are seated and the child kneels before each parent.) Then each child clasps their hands over their parents' hands, and says words like, "Maaf zahir dan batin" which means, "Forgive me for my wrong words and/or deeds" or a simple, "Minta ampun dan maaf" which means, "Please forgive me, I am sorry".

.................Cushions given as gifts, 2 with green, and 2 with red backgrounds - love them!

For some, this is done among the members of the immediate family and, on visiting the grandparents' home, the children and grandchildren of the elderly folks repeat this gesture before them. It is basically rooted in the tradition of the younger ones showing respect for the elder ones, so siblings also seek forgiveness from their older ones.

...............Deco on "Lady Victoria", a rescued cupboard blogged about earlier on

There is variation on how this is done, with some families doing it privately.

Wives also practise this tradition with their husbands, and vice versa. This is repeated when the in-laws are visited, the couple to their parents-in-law.

...............................................Christmas ladder!

This tradition has been observed by Malays for many, many years. Of course, the gesture is supposed to be carried out with sincerity, although, how sincere the person is should not be questioned.

...............Dining area corner - frames are windows thrown out by furniture shop

.......................Dining area lamp prettified - twigs picked up from around neighbourhood


Imagine, all the mischief, disobedience, disrespect, rebellion done over the past year by the younger one is brought before the older one who does not hold account of them anymore. It's like casting off your wrongdoings, deleting them. It's like having your slate wiped clean from the past year's offenses. It's like starting over, with new-year resolutions.

..................................Garlanded stairs (not lit up in this pic)

I know it is an American tradition to show appreciation to family members (although that was not how the tradition was started) by sometimes sharing kind words of thankfulness and then sharing a toast to one other at the Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving Day is the day they remember to be grateful for people and things around them.

........................Christmas tree against faux brick wall (painted)

But I don't know of any one day where Christians actually observe the practice of seeking forgiveness from loved ones. Of course, we can argue that we should be doing that throughout the year, as soon as we wrong someone even. But my point is, sometimes when a special day is observed to practise an honorable gesture like this, it allows for time to take stock. Giving and receiving forgiveness will not be taken for granted and brushed off, or put off to another time, but would be purposefully thought of. Just like we should appreciate our loved ones throughout the year, yet Valentine's Day, regardless of its origin, is the day many have adopted to be the day to remember and appreciate loved ones.

As I was putting up the Christmas decorations around our house this year (hence all the photos above, because I like my posts to have some eye-candy!), this was what I was pondering about. Traditions that are so worth-mentioning and maybe even adopting.

...........................Awesome tissue box with harlequin design

.................................Baubles make me happy

What do you think?

. As you consider the year as it closes, are there wrongs you need to make right with the simple (but may not be easy) act of asking for forgiveness?
Wooden rocking horse thrown out by a playschool. Original colour - a loud purple with yellow flowers and green rocking legs - painted white and brown, and distressed. "Reins" are twine with 2 silver bells hung from them.

.................................The cutest toadstools ever!

. Are there people who have wronged you but you have consciously or unconsciously with-held forgiveness from? your parents, bosses, partners, colleagues, friends, siblings?

. Something to think about - if we with-hold forgiveness from any one person, who is the one who loses out?

. Sometimes, do you think, it is not even about who wronged who, but it is more about nurturing and restoring a relationship?

. My bet is, being unforgiving, holding grudges, being bitter, contributes to a lot of illnesses, not to mention sleepless nights

...................................Reindeer bandanna

May we have a Blessed and Forgiving Christmas.

*the writer of this blog reads and enjoys every comment! Look for the comment section at the end of the blog and leave one there, would you? I do try to reply each one.

* do sign up as a follower of this blog, too! that's the column on the right....who knows, a Christmas gift may be coming your way!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Room Makeover (My Mum is Moving in - Part 2)

In my last blog post I showed you the dresser makeover I did for my Mum's room, before she moved in. This is the second and last part of the room makeover.

First, some before photos...

curtains were these...

there was a tall wardrobe in one corner (now replaced with the dresser)...

walls and doors needed a fresh coat of paint...

the single bed was at the other corner of the room...

First, I sewed new curtains for the room. I had actually bought a pale cream material for the curtains, but to my horror, they showed terrible blotches all over when held up to the sunlight. So back to the store I went with the rejected material, and this was the only alternative they could give me. Pink! hmmm...not me at all. But my daughter helped me tone it down with the Ikea lacy ones which were at a ridiculous price of RM39 (about US$10) for a pair! (she took one piece for her own room - I think that was the plan all along)

And then I was stuck! How in the world does a green dresser go with pink curtains!
This was not what I had envisioned! So I figured the only way I could pull it all together was if I bought bed linen that would somehow match everything. I searched high and low but could not find any that 'flowed'. I was in trouble.

And then I found it! The perfect, perfect, perfect colours in a quilt which could double up as a bedspread as well as a blanket, as it was the thinner version that is more suitable for our weather. But it was for a double bed, so it was more costly. How I had sat for a good half hour deliberating if I could splash so much money when all I needed was a quilt for a single bed. Finally, I decided I liked it too much, it was for my mother after all, I couldn't be looking anymore, so I splurged. And the salesgirl from China said, "you are good daughter".

Wanna see, wanna see??

See a close-up of the floral print and the perfect colours! (pink from my curtains and green from my dresser!)

It reminded me of the tea-set I had bought and blogged about some months ago.

AND! AND! I had an idea of what I'd do with the balance material as I had to cut off one side that was too long (obviously) for the bed.
(holding my heart)

eeeeeeeeeeek!! And now I shalt waxeth poetic! The balance for a valance!

I'm totally cheating here. I was going to make a wooden beam for the valance (I even bought a piece of meranti wood) but Mum moved in before I could make it. So I just pinned on the balance quilt material onto the existing curtains. You couldn't tell, could you? I'll get round to making the beam. Some day. Maybe.

Also, several months ago, I had bought these two used wooden-framed mirrors, (3 feet tall!) also at a steal - RM15 each.

At first I painted the frames black. Here you can see a during photo, because I don't have a photo of the completed black ones. And they remained so, displayed in my dining room, side by side.
Then I decided to use them in the rooms. The white in me (I have noticed more and more I love white) decided to paint them white. Mum got the clean white while daughter got the distressed one.

Here's Mum's white mirror with a small table covered with vintage, lacy cloth that belongs to her. She is particular about her hair, and I knew she would need a table to sit at, to do it up. (psst...if ever you meet her, tell her how nice her hair is and she'll love you, on second thoughts, don't. She'll get suspicious because I know how my friends are - they will ALL really do so!)

Oh, wait. Look at the cute, antique stool that came with her?

See the fresh coat of very light grey paint on the walls and a darker shade for the doors?

A pink rug for just outside the bathroom.
Her Ikea side table that moved in with her. I added a pewter jug (belongs to her) with leaves...

What did my Mum say when she walked into the room?
"Wah, got a nice big mirror for me to do my hair!"


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dressing a Dresser (My Mum is Moving In - part 1)

My Mum is moving in with us.

update: I started this post much earlier but it wasn't published. She moved in last Saturday.

How exciting! It's such an honour for me*. Gotta get her room ready. Gotta sew her some curtains. Gotta get some furniture pieces in for her. Gotta get new bed linen. Gotta get her little rugs. (I really gotta stop using the word gotta.)

My Mum is so unlike me. She is definitely the 'girlie' kind. And she's cute. Here she is with my son.
I told you she is cute!

Me? I'm all for rustic, distressed, rough, country style. And I'm a tomboy. Here I am in my shorts, dirty oversized t-shirt, hair up to keep it away from sweaty face, blotches of paint up to my elbows....

(you didn't think I would post a photo of me like that, did you?! Really!)

So it was with much trial and error I did up her room, all the while feeling stumped cos I had no idea what a girlie kind of person would like - and with much consultation with my also-girlie daughter . (I really should stop using the word cos - cos it's slang and I think I gotta cut down on slang words. Like gotta)

I had this dresser which I thought I could let her have, cos because my bedroom had too many pieces of furniture in it.
While I liked the piece as a whole, I didn't like the wood cos because it was patchy..look at the side of the dresser..

And a close-up of the wood (I gotta have to find out why it was made like this).

At first, I wanted to paint it, and have the wood show through in a leaf motif. (I stuck on stencils I had cut out of cardboard - don't ask. I'm an amateur DIY-er)
But that just didn't turn out right...

I didn't like the leaves cos because they were too 'spiky' - even for me! Great idea, though..gotta have to try again next time, with a different motif.

So back to re-painting and sandpapering off some of the paint.
I have no idea why I used green. Maybe cos because it's a calm colour to walk into your bedroom to, when you want to turn in? I can't imagine walking into a red room!

My girlie-consultant thought her Granny wouldn't like the distressed, vintage look like I had done for the cupboard my husband had rescued from her house months ago. So I gave this one a clean look.

A rug to match (I had already painted the walls a pale grey, and the doors a darker grey).
And then of course, ever since I discovered I have a thing about knobs, I had to change the little ones (they were really little) that didn't make any impact...

to wider ones, darkening the colour, too.



Tune in to Part 2 for the complete room make-over.

1. Does anyone know where to get really, really fancy cupboard knobs/handles here in Malaysia?
2. What do you think of my dresser dressed in green? Even if you feel I should have just, do let me know. I really wanna want to know what you think.

*Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 5:16