Daily

The Other Blog

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I’ll still be updating this blog with kid lit booklists, family fun, and the occasional brand-related post, but for everything else, visit my personal blog—ask me for the link if you don’t already have it! Some of my old craft posts are available as screen caps here.

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Fun

Lego Cake Stand

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My six year old and his best bud, also 6, have September birthdays a day apart and they’re both Lego mad, so that’s two Lego-themed celebrations in a row.

My son didn’t want a party but my husband is baking a cake anyway, and I decided on a whim to make a stand after spying one online. I didn’t read the instructions but used this picture as a guide. I only found out later that I’d built it differently; the blogger mom had started with the pedestal, but I’d started with the plate.

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I didn’t have a colour theme in mind because I wasn’t even sure we had enough bricks for this. Here’s the breakdown of the row lengths (i.e. number of studs), and you can mix and match your bricks as you wish:

Row 1: 2 x 10
Row 2: 2 x 14
Row 3: 2 x 18
Row 4: 2 x 20
Row 5: 2 x 22
Rows 6, 7: 2 x 24
Rows 8, 9: 2 x 26

Centre: Rows 10–13, 2 x 28

Rows 14, 15: 2 x 26
Rows 16, 17: 2 x 24
Row 18: 2 x 22
Row 19: 2 x 20
Row 20: 2 x 18
Row 21: 2 x 14
Row 22: 2 x 10

In the picture above, you’ll see four 1 x 1 blue bricks in the middle of the plate (rows 11 and 12, with 13 studs on either side). To make the plate, you build horizontally, but to create the pedestal, you build downwards instead (the studs will still point in the same direction). The four blue bricks are facing downwards.

For the pedestal, I used two 1 x 16 Lego Technics pieces (with holes); one of it is showing in the picture below. I would’ve used more but I didn’t have many long pieces. No special reason for using the Technics bricks, except that they were longer! But there are design possibilities there that I did not explore.

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Reinforce the pedestal in any way that you see fit. (Another view here.) Mine could be prettier but I was going for utility. The one in the original tutorial is sturdier as it’s thicker, and more of it is attached to the plate. But I tested mine and it can bear enough weight for my needs.

Well that’s it. I hope you try this if you have little Lego fans to please—some of my friends were intimidated but it’s actually very straightforward. Happy building!

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Daily

Room Tour: The 2017 Update

We’ve given others a peek into our home via my previous blog, as well as on Mum In The Making (2012) and Cromly (2015). Several months after the Cromly feature, we decided to do away with most of the coloured walls in our home, leaving only our pink entrance and our trademark striped wall (in the living area).

It was, in some ways, a bit of a chaotic year for us and we wanted to restore our sense of order, beginning with our living environment. Also, Z would be moving into Layla’s room, and I wanted a neutral colour along with a fresh start for them. No regrets, because with whites, you get light and the illusion of space, as well as the freedom to own your canvas by adding visual interest in little ways.

I’m aware that the room is still dominated by Layla’s stuff, but we’re easing towards gender neutral elements, and we’ve carved out some spaces for Z. The Umbra Shadow Clock is our latest addition to the room. It was a gift from Masons Home Decor; I loved it when I first saw the pictures, and even more in real life.

The clock’s graphic numbers are painted black on the sides, so they stand out. Justin from Masons Home Decor informed me that the clock was jointly designed by Alan Wisniewski and Sonja Kresowaty. It’s made from Paulownia wood, which is apparently notable for its strength. Masons Home Decor has given me a lifetime 15% discount code to use, and you’re welcome to use it too: EVELYN15.

Mixing and matching their knickknacks. The hexagon shadow box is from Typo.

The bicycle poster was picked up during a 3LittlePicks sale; we have quite a few items from them.

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Kid goals, or should I say, life goals? This was printed by Stickerkid for me; I was supposed to do a feature for them but the posters (it was in a set of three) arrived several months late and bent in several places. I’ve cut Layla’s name from this poster so it works for the shared room; the magnetic wooden picture hanger is from 3LittlePicks.

Our dollhouses are still around; the house my dad built from Daiso balsa wood is on the left, and on the right is my mom’s Sylvanian family collection, which she gifted to us.

Clearly, we didn’t plan for two kids to work here, but it’s not an issue for now. I’m contemplating creating a new study area for them and claiming Layla’s roll-top desk for my own use. That was from Junkie’s Corner.

They each get a display space to manage.

The wooden box showcases my mum’s folk art painting skills, and we still have our paper suitcases, although some of them are more than a little weathered by now. The “Laylapalooza” poster was designed by my friend, occasional colleague, and one-time bandmate Shirley.

The handmade golliwog was from a delightful shop called Doinky Doodles, which unfortunately is no longer in existence today. The foam hand was a souvenir from this year’s GNR bash.

Making the kids share a room was probably our best parenting decision of last year. (Also, Alf couldn’t sleep on the couch forever, as comfortable as it is!) Layla was starting to feel like Z and I were always in cahoots against her, and it was affecting our relationship. With the new sleeping arrangements, our alliances are as they should be, where Alf and I are a team, and Layla and Z are closer than they’ve ever been.

It’s been a palpable change for the better, and in fact, there were hardly any teething issues in Z’s room switch, except that I’d originally bought Z an IKEA cot mattress that was too small, because I wasn’t sure if he was really ready to shift out of my bedroom. But once we realised that both kids were eager to share, we put the Seahorse folding mattresses that we’d bought to host visiting family to good use. I thought that finding a plain fitted sheet for these mattresses would be an issue, but was pleasantly surprised that the longer IKEA cot sheets were a perfect fit.

I haven’t outgrown this felt butterfly lamp, even if the kids have! We’ve also installed spotlights near Layla’s study desk but I’m not satisfied with the look, so we’re planning to schedule an appointment with these designers to see what they can do for us. We’re also hoping to switch out the lights in our living and study area, and get new fabrics for our couch, so there may be more to update on soon!

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Original Sprout

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A girlfriend told me recently that she’s been plagued by breakouts for the whole of this year. Like me, she’s 40, and I was relieved to hear that from her as the same thing’s been happening to me.

I wouldn’t say my skin has ever been totally in the clear, but in my late 20s and 30s, I enjoyed a reprieve and only saw the occasional zit or two. At 40? I now have a dermatologist that I consult when I feel things are getting out of hand–nothing fancy like Sloane, just good ‘ol National Skin Centre. Currently, I’m on the Retin A-AHA treatment that I’ve seen recommended on some beauty/health web sites, and it is working for me, especially when I remember to be kind to my skin.

When Original Sprout contacted me some months ago to send me products, I didn’t decline, for once. I’ve been using Original Sprout on my face for years, after buying the Hair & Body Babywash to test on Z. I was perfectly happy with it, but I attempted to switch to Cetaphil last year thinking that it was cheaper–and dermatologist-recommended–but it triggered a breakout that warranted a visit to the dermatologist. Subsequently, I was prescribed a cleanser from La Roche-Posay, but my skin reacted to that too (redness, itch). Then everything calmed down until we took a family trip to New Zealand, and the weather changes made my skin flare up again. Continue reading

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Daily

One-Hit Wonder

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Z’s best bud Matt is bunking with us for two days, and his mom (my girlfriend Stephii) and I were discussing food options:

S: Do you need us to get groceries?
Me: Don’t worry about it, Alf’s been cooking a lot, and I can make anchovy pasta.
S: Your famous anchovy pasta!
Me: LOL! I really should expand my repertoire.
S: You are specializing!

This is why I have an inflated sense of self-worth… my friends are always making me feel good! But the truth is that I have been unreasonably faithful to one recipe all year. It’s a wonder that protests haven’t erupted at the dinner table, and I still get thanked. And it’s not even my recipe but a Gordon Ramsay knockoff–I’ve been cutting corners lately by omitting the capers and olives. Here it is in its full glory, if you want to try it too.

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Daily

Father’s Day

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I showed Alf a Father’s Day post that I found particularly touching, and reminded him that I’ve cleaned up my Facebook feed to mostly follow the best writers, thinkers, and creative personalities that I’ve come across, in the hope that some of it will rub off on me. As an afterthought, I added:

“Oh, and I also married you!”

“Well… we all make mistakes.”

“No, I’m actually very selective.”

My mother always told me to choose a guy who’d make a good husband and father, and I have to admit I never followed her advice when dating–I had other things on my mind! But my mother also told me I was born lucky, and when I look at the husband that I have, and the father that he is, I think that must be true.

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I was reading this “9 Questions” feature on Vox and thought I’d love to hear from my friends too. So please feel free to leave your answers in the comments! Here are mine:

First piece of media consumed every morning? The NY Times, mostly because it’s always first on my feed.

Someone I disagree with but still read? I just started following local political commentator Calvin Cheng, after having instructed FB to hide all his posts from me a year or two ago… to be honest I disagree with his approach and would prefer if he substantiated his claims with relevant reading material (to save me googling time), but on recent rereading found that some of his views resonated.

Person who has most influenced the way I think? Probably my critical reading professor back in grad school. For him, I read Barthes, Derrida, Baudrillard, and more… and actually enjoyed it for a spell.

The last time I changed my mind? I read a graphic piece on a lynch mob exacting revenge on rapists in India, which I thought would be gratifying, but realised I couldn’t condone that behaviour either. I still have vigilante fantasies though.

Worst intellectual habit? Not finishing what I start.

What inspires me to learn? Believing that I am capable of learning or doing anything that interests me.

What I believe to get through the day? Anything is possible; there are no dead ends.

A view I hold but can’t defend? I’d be disappointed if God didn’t exist.

Book I’ve recommended most? Read into it what you will, but I’m more likely to recommend Modern Love columns or music than a book… In the last year or so, perhaps All The Light We Cannot See, and that’s maybe three times at most. If we’re talking about something potentially life changing (but not a book), I have recommended Seattle pastor Peter Chin’s sermons to many people!

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Togetherness

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My husband asked me a few days ago, “What do you like about me?” The correct answer to that, of course, is “Your body.”

But I also told him I’m often reminded of him when I read about yet another everyday hero who’s restored our faith in humanity with an act of grace or courage. I’m past the point of needing my husband to rescue me, but if you should ever land in a dire situation and find yourself standing next to him, count yourself very lucky indeed. For that, and for loving me—imperfectly perhaps, but unconditionally—our early anniversary lunch is on me today.

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Daily

Choose Your Own Nightmare

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My friend Pat sent me this article today, along with the question, “Still want to go to Seoul?”

In the classic novel Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the protagonist tells the tale of his steamboat voyage up the Congo River to a destination of unimaginable danger. Having to choose between unavoidable evils on his journey, he tries to pursue the lesser one, recognising that he has to be “loyal to the nightmare of (his) choice”.

The US Navy’s aircraft “supercarrier” – the USS Carl Vinson – and its accompanying fleet of warships that constitute Carrier Strike Group 1, currently steaming their way towards the Korean peninsula, is unnervingly resonant of that story.

My answer was a resounding “YES.”

As I told my friend June over coffee, it seems appropriate that I would find myself in Seoul at this juncture, as I take stock of my life so far and decide on my trajectory for the next 20 years or so, if I’m lucky enough to have time on my side.

In a worst case scenario, if something were to happen during my solo getaway next week (and if I managed to survive), I would think to myself, “This world is so screwed, but I’ve never felt more alive.”

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Fun

Little Passports

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We received a six-month subscription to Little Passports (for review) last year, and I’d meant to feature them on my previous blog. Unfortunately I experienced a technical glitch while transferring my phone pictures over to the laptop, and most of my Little Passports photos were corrupted and unusable thereafter.

Some background on Little Passports: It’s a subscription-based product that introduces kids to a new country every month. The two moms behind this were exposed to a variety of cultures as they were growing up, which motivated them to recreate these learning opportunities for other kids.

The reason I’m putting this up now is that we enjoyed the packages, and Z’s been badgering me to resubscribe. All pictures in this post are from the Little Passports web site.

Continue reading

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