Thursday, 31 January 2013

Stuck Sketches January First Sketch

I am working hard to get through my Sock Hop kit. I discovered this Stuck sketch site on a Studio Calico thread about Australasian blogs. The challenge closes today so I grabbed a photo and some scraps and got stuck in.

Here is the sketch

And here is my take...

This photo is from our recent holiday in Phuket. Scarlett was desperate to make sand angels as she has never played in snow and figured this was the next best thing! I love her delighted expression in the photo.

I used scraps from my SC Sock Hop kit and a handful of arrow and star veneer along with some flair from a variety of sources. A simple take on the sketch but it lets the photo take a starring role.

Our Little Fairy Princess

Does anyone else have photos that are almost too special to scrap? I have been holding onto the blurry photo on this page for over a year. In the interests of getting it done and perfection being the enemy of productivity I vowed to get this photo scrapped this week.

Once again it was Shimelle to the rescue with another great and simple sketch.

scrapbook sketch by shimelle laine @ 

I had every intention of following it and then once I had glued down my four background pieces onto my go to grey cardstock I realised I had actually done something else. Oh well.

This really is a bit pinker than I usually scrap. Scarlett had been looking through my kit remains and expressed her love for the pink paper on the bottom left so that drove the colour choices. I loved the giant zigzag patterned paper so felt compelled to use it twice and in a thin strip to help divide the quadrants as well. The colours worked well with the 5th and Frolic bits and pieces and everything came together quickly. I really did not think I would ever use the fox faces in 5th and Frolic but it seemed to work well with the feel of this layout.


 I have been beavering away at my Project Life and will share another couple of weeks worth tomorrow. I need to get all our Bangkok photos edited so I can get to work on Weeks 4 and 5 this weekend.

Welcome to some new faces who have started following my blog over the past few weeks. I am so excited to share my work and adventures with you. If you have any questions at all, please pop them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is fast approaching and the decorations around town this year are particularly beautiful.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Coffee and Cake - a Shimelle Sketch

After waking at 4.30 this morning in anticipation of a 5.30 start I was pretty tired by the time we arrived back to our apartment at two this afternoon. I knew I wanted to do something creative after four days away so I checked my Reader for all the sketches I had recently saved for later. Shimelle came to my rescue with this great little sketch.
scrapbooking sketch by shimelle laine @

I searched through a bag of photos from last year and pulled out two pairs of contenders. I think I will reuse the sketch for the second pairing as well as they will not be living in the same album and it was a lovely simple sketch to play around with.

All the papers in this layout were SC exclusives either from Basic Grey or SC.  I pulled out some hessian look thickers to add to the texture of the page. I added some October Afternoon number washi and a variety of stickers and chipboard from the Dear Lizzy 5th and Frolic range.It came together really quickly.

Coffee and cake have always been my go to comfort foods. My journalling reflects that although my lactose intolerance means the coffees are soy these days, with a bit of planning I can still enjoy the same kind of treat.

Bangkok was a great adventure for us all. I need to gather my thoughts a bit more before blogging about our few days there but I am feeling a lot less pressured about the whole moving issue now. Knowledge most certainly is power.

Have any of you played with Shimelle's sketch? Please post a link in the comments. I would love to see your take.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Listmania 2 Best and Worst of the Monsoon

Hooray! it is week two of Listmania with Deb at Home Life Simplified. This week's list is on the best and worst of your current season. I cannot wait to go and check out the other listings at 

(Apologies for the less than perfect links today. We are in Bangkok and I never blog from the iPad
usually. Now I know why!)

When I tell people I live in South East Asia, they always comment how lovely it must be to always have warm weather. It is true that we never get truly cold weather but we do miss having anything resembling four seasons. Essentially, we have the monsoon (which comes twice a year) and the rest of the year. There are things I love about the monsoon and other things I could live without.

Five Six Things I Love About the Monsoon

  • the cooler temperatures - there is nothing nicer than walking around and not breaking a sweat within the first five minutes. Temperatures between 23 and 28 are so much more manageable than 28 to 35.
  • my daughter's eczema improves greatly in the cooler, humid weather
  • we can stay snug and cozy at home without feeling we must be out and doing things
  • I love the sound of the rain. When it rains in Singapore generally it is absolutely torrential and I love watching it and listening to it cascade down the side of our building
  • Watching thunderstorms is one of my favourite activities and we get a great view of the lightning striking the tall buildings around us and the menacing black clouds descending 
  • Taking my daughter downstairs to splash in puddles in her gumboots and raincoat

Miss S all ready to get out in the rain

Five Things I Dislike About the Monsoon

  • freezing to death on public transport, in malls and supermarkets. It is under twenty degrees on some of the buses. I carry a cardi for both Miss S and myself all the time at this time of year and Miss S still requires cuddles to warm up on a regular basis
  • not being able to get a taxi for love or money when it rains. We have been told the reason is that many drivers go off the roads in bad weather for fear of having an accident and having to pay the first $1000 of repairs. Now that we are carless sometimes we really need a taxi
  • trying to keep all stored linens and clothing mould free. We have had friends lose almost their entire wardrobe after going away over Christmas and not having moisture absorbers in their wardrobes. Everything tends to feel damp and even washing straight from the drier is never entirely dry feeling at this time of year
  • keeping Miss S entertained when it is raining again. Fortunately, her preschool has a good covered outdoor area so she does get to run around at school but we live in a 120 square metre apartment so her opportunities to burn off steam are a bit limited. Thank goodness for the Wiggles to dance along with
  •  I find I have to cook more as it is often raining around dinner time and no one wants to go out and pick up some prata or chicken rice in the rain
How did I forget rainbows?
 Please join in the fun with Listmania at Home Life Simplified. I would love to see what you are loving and less fond of about your current season.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Life Paper Scrapbook Sketch

I am so excited for my friend Manda who has just started a new online scrapbooking magazine based in Australia, Life.Paper.Scrapbook. I love it when people find something they are unhappy with and go out there and do something about it. The site is well worth a look as she is currently looking for a design team and has recently put up a new sketch challenge.

I love a sketch as it really helps me get my pictures scrapped quickly and painlessly. Here is the new Life.Paper. Scrapbook sketch.


I pulled out my November Studio Calico kit and a couple of photos from the Marina Bay area of Singapore and got to work.

I started off working on a  red and white patterned paper but as I flicked through my papers looking for my secondary patterned papers I realised that the colours of this feather paper matched really well with the colours in the photos. That made adding the feather patterned vellum a no brainer and I decided to keep it pretty clean by using the swiss dot white cardstock as my third option.  Some quick embossing onto wood veneer triangles, Pink Paislee glitter letters and a few bits and pieces from the Dear Lizzy line and I called it done.

I think I am incapable of completing a layout without enamel dots at the moment. They add something special!

Now that I have braved the world of heat embossing I am trying it out at every opportunity. I will definitely be using it in my, as yet incomplete, December Daily.

I hope to see some of your interpretations of the sketch up on Manda's site soon.

I am off to finish packing as we head to Bangkok to have a good look round this weekend. I am hoping to post some pictures on here over the weekend. If you follow me on Instagram be prepared for a bit of a deluge!

Have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Project Life 2013

Sometimes I wonder if I have lost the plot entirely attempting Project Life again this year. I started last year with a hiss and a roar and lasted just under six months before I came to a grinding halt. I loved my album and my family still pull it out often to look at it but it was such an enormous time suck. It all went wrong when I started sending my photos out for printing as the lag got me very behind.

I spent a lot of time tossing the idea around before the Studio Calico announcement of Project Life kits pushed me over the edge and I have decided to try again. I did not start PL at the beginning of the year as we had a house full of guests and my kit had not arrived so this week is catch up week. I have all my photos printed for the first three weeks and I have pulled out all my Clementine kit from last year as I really want to use it up, mainly as backing for smaller pictures. I have also purchased some lovely cards from Geralyn Sy's In a Creative Bubble store. They are stunning in real life - even more beautiful than they looked online. Other than that I will be raiding my newly organised stash (it really helps to have an OCD sister come and stay - it all got too much for her and we spent an afternoon sorting).

In the interests of keeping costs down I have decided to use one of my Amy Tangerine chevron albums.

I am absolutely going with keep it simple for the front cover. I may come back and change this later on but it works for me now. The flair came with the Studio Calico kit.

I have one rule for my new approach to PL and that is the old chestnut of done is better than perfect. I followed my husband's advice and used the auto settings when printing my Creative Bubble printables and they made them smaller. I could have reprinted them I suppose but I have just mounted them on some Clementine kit inserts so they do not roll around too much. I may add something to the geotag insert. The inserts are all SC with the exception of Everyday Living and the Home Sweet Home pages which are from A Creative Bubble. We discovered to our horror that we have no recent photos with all three of us with the exception of the one here which is far from perfect. I am tempted to leave it as is but we may try and take a few photos over the weekend and replace it! I used insert G for this cover page which is actually 10 x 12. I just knew I wanted to be able to use photos going both ways.

I have tried to tell lots of stories and deliberately kept the pictures small so there is plenty of room for journalling. We had my sister and my brother-in-law and his girl friend staying with us that week so there was quite a lot going on. I also included a couple of photos from our last day in Phuket as I work Monday to Sunday and the 31st  was Monday. Along with the usual supplies I have included a flair from Sasha Farina's store and a tonne of smaller lettering from my stash.

This second half of the week one spread includes a folded goals list for the year, a bit of an explanation for my new look and I also share the word our family is embracing this year - Adventure.

If I am honest it took me two hours to get to this point not counting printing the photos, trimming and organising them and the printables. I really do not have the time to spend more than this each week so I am really going to be working on streamlining my process as I continue. I am absolutely going to have single side weeks if not much has happened. I want to record our life but I don't want to reduce the time I have to live it!

I am hoping to get Week 2 finished tonight in front of the telly although I suspect that might be wishful thinking as we are off for a long weekend in Bangkok on Friday so packing could be in my future. 

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Toddler and the SEA Aquarium

We have been meaning to visit the new SEA aquarium at Sentosa since it opened last month. Scarlett has always enjoyed visiting Underwater World on Sentosa and is madly in love with the sole survivor of the great fish giveaway, who she has dubbed Daisy. A wet and gloomy Saturday morning seemed like a great opportunity to spend some time indoors.

Sentosa is super easy to get to both by car and public transport. We opted for a bus, MRT combo and then caught the Sentosa Express from VivoCity across to the island. We took a while to work out exactly where the Oceanarium was but once we found an updated map we were in business and a short covered walk later we were queueing to enter.

Children under four are free to enter the Oceanarium. Adults are $29, Seniors and children aged 4 - 12 are $20. They also have some excellent value annual passes. I would say this is pretty good value as, even with a toddler who raced through the Oceanarium at a fair clip, we spent a good ninety minutes in there. If I had been on my own I would probably have spent an extra hour!

I was not entirely sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised by the scale of the exhibits. Upon entering the complex you are greeted by an enormous Chinese junk in full sail.

 It is used as a cinema of sorts which seemed very popular but we decided not to risk with Miss Nearly Three. We carried on through a really engaging and interactive series of exhibits sharing the wares and lifestyle of the various ports on the main sailing route between Palembang in Indonesia all the way through to Muscat and beyond.

Admiring the camel trader

One of the major goods traded on the route was rugs

Trying out the drums

 There are interactive stations at each stop along the route. Children can be issued with a passport and collect stamps as they move through the souk. There are also lots of fun making and colouring activities including making a junk, an Indonesian shadow puppet and a variety of other fun activities. With a primary school aged child you could spend a good chunk of time in this display without even needing to see the Oceanarium proper.

The junk making sheet - pre-punched and made of fairly sturdy card

The Oceanarium is billed as the largest in the world and we were not disappointed. The initial entrance way into a traditional tunnel tube with pretty fish swimming around was probably the least inspiring part of the entire complex. We were soon moving onto much bigger and brighter things though.

One of the first large aquariums

 The first half of the Oceanarium is a collection of aquarium after aquarium showing sea life in various habitats ranging from the local mangrove Eco systems to the deep ocean. One of the highlights for me was that almost all the fish were local species to the South East or East Asian region. It is nice to think that such beautiful creatures really are in our backyard.

Schools of fish moving as one

Beautiful undersea landscapes with stunning plants, fish and corals

The fish came in all colours of the rainbow

Giant Japanese Crabs

 Miss Nearly Three enjoyed looking at all the different fish in the different displays. The brighter coloured fish and the scary ones definitely got more interest from her.

Starfish in the touch tank

 One of Miss S's favourite experiences of the day was the touch tank. This was well supervised with the staff quickly stopping any rough or inappropriate behaviour. It is interesting that the children were never the culprits, rather older women seemed to cause the majority of the issues. The starfish were interesting to touch and the way they have adapted to cling onto rocks was really interesting. There were other sea creatures in the tank but this was a very popular stop and we moved on rather than battle the crowds to try and handle some other creatures.

Further into the Oceanarium we came to what may be my favourite section - the jellyfish. They were displayed in a range of large and small aquariums to show off the beautiful colours and shapes. I took a lot of photos in this area and have been quite restrained just sharing a handful here.

 I still cannot believe how well some of these photos turned out as I just took them using my iPhone 4s through the Camera+ app. It worked really well in some very low light situations without me using a flash.

After viewing all these amazing aquariums I was not sure what would come next. I stepped through a doorway and my breath was taken away. Inside was an enormous floor to ceiling aquarium. Unfortunately, my photos from this room were not as good as I had hoped.

The largest display
 This photo was an attempt to show the scale. There are multi levelled viewing areas in front of the tank and then smaller windows all along the sides and back so you can get up very close and personal with the animals inside.

The star of the aquarium

Stingray with his entourage of smaller fish

 The stingray shown above was very popular with the crowd. He swam surrounded by a school of smaller fish and they really were spectacular to watch. I could have happily sat and watched this environment and its inhabitants for hours but Miss S had other ideas.

Tropical fish and coral

Miss S loved the pink fish

The shark tank

We continued through the complex enjoying tank after tank of stunning brightly coloured fish. The final display tank is the shark tank and the sharks are keen to come and have a look at the visitors so it is worth the wait. 

There are several food outlets scattered throughout the complex including a sit down restaurant, a gelato counter and a soon to be opened Garrett's popcorn stand. There is also a large shop selling t shirts and other Oceanarium related merchandise. I usually avoid these like the plague as so often they are overpriced. We were pleasantly surprised by the reasonably priced merchandise especially the tshirts and soft toys. These were under $10 each which means you don't have to steer the children away from the shop for fear of being ripped off.

We spotted Din Tai Fung on our way into the complex and decided to have dim sum for lunch. I think the experience really deserves a post of its own and will share it later in the week.

Thanks for reading to the end. It has turned into a bit of a mega post. We had such a lovely time there and I am sure we will be back soon as it is a fun, educational outing for all three of us.

I ticked over the 10000 page view milestone yesterday thanks to all those who joined the Listmania fun. Thanks to all those regular readers who have supported me and welcome to all my new visitors.  I would love to do a giveaway to celebrate and am puzzling over something that would work worldwide. If you have a good idea please pop it in the comments!

If you like what you read I would love you to join me on a regular basis via GFC. One of my goals for this year was to have 30 followers and I am still some way off!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Listmania: Getting to Know Me

I love a good list as you well know and I am super excited to be linking up to Deb at Home Life Simplified's new weekly Listmania. If you don't know this blog you should definitely check it out. Lots of invaluable and practical ideas to focus on what is really important and cut out the overwhelm.

Anyway, here is the state of play at our place today.

Reading:  Lots of blog posts and websites on living in Bangkok with children. It is helping make our decision easier. I am also spending a lot of time on Ravelry finding beautiful easy patterns for my next project.

Listening to: The pump on our fish tank, the endlessly running water is very relaxing.

Laughing at: The endlessly amusing stories Scarlett comes up with and very old episodes of Top Gear (can you tell the Hubby has had the remote?).

Swooning over: The endless beautiful colours that merino wool comes in and how much fun it is to choose pretty combinations.

Planning: My blog posts for the week, dinners for the week and trying to timetable in some crafty activities too.

Eating lots of :  Sushi ,dim sum and lots of mango - the joys of living in Singapore

Feeling: Happy and relaxed after a super fabulous weekend doing lots of fun family activities even though it rained pretty much two days straight.

Discovering: I can knit a lot faster than when I started working on Scarlett's shrug.

Looking at: Picasa in an attempt to edit and print three weeks worth of Project Life photos - yes I am already behind!

Wearing: Comfy cargo pants and a t shirt - getting the child downstairs for the school bus at 7.30 does not result in glamour dressing!

Cooking: Nothing all weekend, but looking forward to a beef and ginger stir fry for dinner tonight.

Wondering: If we should say yes to adventure and just move to Bangkok or be more adult and weigh up the pros and cons.

Trying out: Natural New Age Mum's body brushing and essential oil morning routine. After a week I have to say it has been transformational. My skin is so soft, my moods are better and that five minutes in the morning pays dividends all day.

I am linking this up at Deb's site and would love to see some of my reader's lists there too. Next week sounds interesting - a pros and cons list of the current season you are experiencing. I am wondering does monsoon count?

I have a sneak peek at tomorrow's post which is all about our amazing visit to the new SEA Oceanarium - the world's largest aquarium which recently opened in Singapore.

 This is just straight from my phone. It was totally awe inspiring and I cannot wait to go back and just immerse myself in the undersea world.

Have a marvellous Monday!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Letting the cat out of the bag

Well the official announcement has finally been made so I can let the world know that we may be moving to Bangkok by the middle of the year. At this stage we have not really made any firm decision. There are so many variables to consider and the company is being a bit less organised than we had hoped about answering our queries. We are planning on taking a trip to Bangkok in the next few weeks to help us decide. I have been there a number of times but not in the last few years and although Tet goes for work quite often he has not really looked at Bangkok as a potential home for our family.

I am looking at it as a potential adventure and am actually quite excited about the idea of living in Thailand as it has been one of my favourite countries to visit since I was a child. I know living there might be very different and Thai is a very difficult language to learn. I will keep you posted!

I have been working away on another CHA challenge layout on the Studio Calico site. I have to say this is one of my all time favourite layouts. It came together almost exactly how I pictured it in my head which does not happen very often. I was inspired by Sasha Farina's challenge to blog from the heart and everything flowed from there.

I have mentioned in the past the difficulties we have had with Scarlett and sleep. They remain ongoing and while we occasionally get a few weeks or even a month where she sleeps through the night these periods are always short lived and we return to broken nights of sleep eventually. Our Christmas holiday has caused a real regression in her sleep and she is back in our bedroom sleeping on her mattress on the floor although most nights she ends up in our bed after multiple wake ups. It is exhausting and to be honest it has had a really detrimental impact on my health. After almost totally getting off medication for my stomach issues I am back on a daily dose and it is all down to having only three or four broken hours of sleep a night. Sigh.

My journalling reflects on the lack of sleep in our lives. I sure hope it gets better because I did not expect three years of bad sleep when I finally managed to conceive S!

The writing is actually in silver ink but it shows up quite differently on the layout.

I am really excited that I finally got my heat gun out and embossed some veneer for this layout. The glitter matched well with the Pink Paislee lettering I used and the aqua zing is a pretty good match for Scarlett's t shirt in the photo. I managed to enter this in Nik's glitter challenge and Marcy's dress up your veneer challenge as well as another entry into Kelly's use a patterned paper background.

Here are a couple of close ups of the embellie clusters.

The colours and textures really make my heart sing!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I intend to as look what the postie just dropped off!

I can see some Project Life work in my future!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Couple of Challenge Layouts

What a good source of motivation the Studio Calico CHA Challenges have been for me. I completed two new layouts yesterday and hope to squeeze two more in before the challenges close on Saturday (US time). 

Apart from a couple of rows of knitting I have not managed to get any other crafting done today. We had a Landlord's inspection of our apartment so the morning was mainly tidying for that. The agent was here for about three minutes but he was happy so I am glad that is over for another year. I have a Scarlett home day today so we managed to squeeze in a little outing to one of our favourite cafes for a treat and to make up for some very shouty Mummy when she woke me up one too many times last night.

The first challenge I had a go at yesterday was a use three patterned papers challenge. I usually use at least that many but it made me use up some scraps that were left of my favourite papers from the Roller Rink kits.

I had a bit of trouble with my white Mister Huey smearing a little but hey ho. The photos are from one of my husband's many work trips to Thailand. On one trip the plant arranged to take him to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand. It is a beautiful spot and he took some lovely photos of the numerous Buddhas at the site. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Park ad well worth a visit if you get the chance. I visited it long before I even knew my husband but it is one of the most memorable places from my South East Asian travels.

The second layout was an include glitter challenge response. I don't use much glitter but I make an exception for Thickers and washi tape so I included both on this layout.

This photo is from when Scarlett was only about three months old. She was notorious for never sleeping lying down and this photo provides good proof of this. This photo was taken at an antenatal group meet up at our place and there were half a dozen Mums and babies in the room at the time. Crazy times!

Finally, I feel like a bit of a fraud with my knitting I showed you yesterday. It looks like a super complex pattern but it just clever wool that mimics a fair isle style pattern. Thank you for all the kind comments. I have really enjoyed doing something relaxing of an evening!