Thursday, 27 December 2012

S.T: DIY Ribbon Wrapped Bangle Tutorial

Months ago, I bought a set of neon pink and yellow plastic bangles and a bunch of random brooches from an old couple who ran a little shop in the wet market selling pre-loved items.  Most of the time, the wares on sale are truly worse for wear but once in a while, you do find something truly spectacular. I had completely forgotten that I had scored these tacky-but-oh-I-could-use-them-for-something bangles and oh-so-pretty brooches until yesterday.

It all started because my cousins wanted to hang out and since we failed to catch a movie, bake cookies and (insert any random activity you can think of) , we decided to CRAFT!

So after much rummaging and a little inspiration, we produced these:

Aren't they pretty? And they are so easy to make. I made the green one and my super talented cousin D made the white one. I like to point out that I was the one that came up with the idea ( I know I know, I am shameless) and she executed the bangle. And beautifully. Her handiwork is amazing. :) 

Step 1. Cut a long strip of ribbon and finish the edges by flickering it over a naked flame to prevent fraying. Next, take your bangle and on the inside, dab a little super glue. Press the  ribbon on to the bangle and begin wrapping.  Dab a little more glue on the inside of the bangle each time you pull the ribbon over to the front.

Step 2. Once you have finished wrapping your bangle, start arranging your doily over it. We trimmed this one down and cut it into few pieces to fit the bangle. Once satisfied, start gluing them down! Next, paint a light coat of clear nail polish over the doily to make it water proof. This step is important.

Step 3. Almost done. Its really pretty the way it is right now but...

Step 4. A little something extra. A pretty brooch to finish it off! TA DA!

Happy crafting!


Monday, 24 December 2012


Hello hello!

I am back in sunny Singapore for Christmas and its so nice to get away from the cold and be surrounded by the warmth of friends and family!

Its been a mad rush since I arrived at 5 am on the eve of Christmas eve and I have been all tangled up in ribbons and wrapping paper. Here are some fun and pretty ways to wrap your present without spending a pretty penny on fancy wrapping paper!

Yes, yes, I got some inspiration from Pinterest but hey, who doesn't?

And if you are in need of a quick present for a guy, why not make text cuff links? I managed to find some pre-made resin domes for cuff links and in a matter of minutes, voila! A Christmas present!



Monday, 19 November 2012

S.T: Perfect Sunday Brunch: Chocolate Chunk Scones and Homemade Blueberry Jam

Lazy Sundays are something I look forward to every week. I love getting up early in the morning just to take it slow. It starts with a drowsy dawdle into kitchen, poking around the fridge, cupboards and drawers until I get inspired to either hit the egg beaters or leave something out to defrost for later.

This weekend, I had the Gorilla's Dad staying with us and as a treat, I decided to make something oh-so-English and downright scrumptious. So, my usual Sunday morning dawdle led me to make:

Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Scones with Homemade Blueberry Jam, served with a pat of Lurpak spread.

I love scones, they are the epitome of indulgent brunches and high teas. I love the fluffy yet crumbly, dense texture and how well they go with clotted cream and jam. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the best dairy  and making my own is a bit of a stretch. I settled for spicing things up with bittersweet chocolate and homemade jam. 

Both the scones and jam are super easy to make, the jam especially. With the import tax being ridiculously high here, it makes a lot more sense to make my own jam. Plus, I know how its going to taste before opening the jar and I have full control over how tart, how sweet and how pulpy my jam is going to be. 

Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Scones

(Adapted from Good Housekeeping Chocolate Collection)
Makes 8 Large Triagular Scones

  • 75g unsalted good quality butter,diced
  • 225g self raising flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 150g good quality *Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 6 tbsp of milk

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees C ( 180 fan forced). Line your baking tray with non-stick baking paper. 
    Sift baking powder and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar. Rub in the diced butter until mixture 
    resembles fine breadcrumbs. Set aside.

2) Roughly chop up chocolate into chunks and fold into the butter and flour mixture. Combine the beaten egg and milk together. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour the egg mixture in. 

3) Stir lightly with a round-ended knife until the mixture just comes together into a soft dough, adding a splash more milk if it looks too dry.

4) Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and press into a rectangular shape about 1inch thick.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the dough into triangles. If you have a proper scone cutter, shape dough into a circle and stamp out circles with your cutter. Place the cut dough onto prepared sheet and bake for 10-15 min until risen and golden. Cool on the wire rack.

* You can use any kind of baking chocolate, from dark to milk or white, whatever catches your fancy.
-If your oven is very hot, you can change the temperature to 160 degrees (fan forced) and bake for 20-30 mins. It prevents over browning and maintains a light texture. 

Homemade Blueberry Jam

Serves 4

  • 125g fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon


1) Rinse the blueberries and remove any that spoilt. Place blueberries, lemon juice and sugar into a deep

2) Place the saucepan over medium high heat and stir constantly. Using a masher, gently mush the the blueberries a little to create a slight pulp. The blueberries will start to liquefy and keep stirring and bring mixture to a boil.

3) Once the mixture has reached boiling point, turn the heat down and simmer till most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture thickens. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl. Set aside to cool. Mixture will continue to thicken.

-The blueberries might squirt so do be careful, a deep saucepan can save you from a nasty scald.
-It takes awhile for the mixture to thicken, so do be patient and don't panic.
-You can easily triple the recipe and add a little salt as a preservative. Jam can be stored in canning jars and refrigerated up to 2 weeks. 
-If you like a less mushy jam and enjoy having full blueberries in your jam, skip mushing the blueberries and let them naturally reduce. 
- I don't like my jams too sweet so this is the perfect level of sweetness for me. Taste the fruit before deciding how much sugar you would like to add. 

S.T: The perfect get away: Moganshan

Hello hello,

One of the perks of living in China is China's Golden Weeks (we have three in total) and during a golden week, everyone gets a whole week off from work (7 days to be precise).

So, for this holiday (1-7 October), the Gorilla and I decided to escape the smoggy bustling city of Shanghai and set off to explore the mountains in Hangzhou, Moganshan. (莫干山)

View of a bridge at sword pond lake. 

We spent 3 days and 2 nights there and we returned with aching thighs and smiles on our faces. First discovered as a holiday destination by the Europeans who dotted the landscape with Victorian style houses, Moganshan is currently the quick weekend getaway for the residents of Shanghai. It is perfect for those who want to escape the city and be surrounded by the unspoiled beauty of nature. Here are some of the views we  took it.

                           (The Gorilla had to scale the rocks to get this shot. My fear of heights overwhelmed me and I couldn't join him on this climb.)

I definitely recommend going to Moganshan if you want to spend your days just wandering aimlessly and taking in the sights. 

Getting there: 
By train: 
If you are coming from Shanghai, its a 45 min train ride on the bullet train from Shanghai HongQiao Station to Hangzhou. Once at the train station, you can take a taxi that will drive you to Moganshan ( about 1.5hr ride if there is no traffic) or alternatively, you can ask the place you are staying at to arrange for a driver to pick you up at the station( which is what I did). 
By Bus: 
There is a public bus for you to take from either Shanghai or in Hangzhou itself. I honestly cannot vouch for this option but some do. I would suggest to check out trip advisor or google it thoroughly before going as schedules and numbers change frequently.

Places to stay:
We stayed at the Moganshan House 23 ( a villa that has 6 bedrooms, you can choose to rent one). Its beautiful and pricey. The staff is friendly and wonderfully tucked away.
Another place to check out ( for a more hostel feeling), check out Bamboo Guest House. Its on the other side of the mountain and its more for cycling and hiking).

Things to eat:
-The produce on Moganshan is fresh, organic and delicious. If you aren't fussed about hygiene( its China, come on), try eating at the local restaurants. 农家菜(Nong Jia Cai) is the cuisine of Moganshan and its delicious.
Fresh Bamboo Shoots with Broad Beans and Carrots

Deep Fried Potato Patties

Sweet and Sour Pork

Strange Beer that tastes like water and makes you wanna pee alot.
Note: All locally produced beer ( Moganshan Beer esp) is exceptionally light and makes you wanna pee. Not much taste.

The restaurant we ate at was on the roof of this building.

Another place to eat with cuisine closer to home ( think pastas, sandwiches and freshly baked cookies and cakes) is Moganshan Lodge. I didn't take any pictures but they made killer GIANT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! hehe. 

So do visit Moganshan, its really beautiful. A great resource is C-trip, its a go-to site if you intend to go to China.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Make a Hat carry-on

Lovely long weekend here in SG, and the weather was perfect! SG's warm, humid and sunny days are for summery hats. But I rarely bring a hat out with Me because my cute straw hats are such a hassle to take around. I prefer the straw hats to the soft cloth kinds just because they look so much prettier, haha.

Well, hats are not just adorable, stylish or cool accessories, they're extremely useful in the blazing heat ( that is common here in SG). They shade you from the rays, and protect your head from heat burn. And now I've found a quick and so easy solution to carrying my hat around! I have a few straw hats that I usually don't use because they are too big to be kept in my totes or purses, but now I've got the perfect and cutest solution! I'm so psyched by it and it puzzles me why this was never thought of before! OK so I've not tried looking up on the web for it, who knows another crafty blogger might have beaten me to it, but never mind! I'm sharing my idea here!!!

My cute straw hat

So the prototype was really basic, I snipped a small hole on the inside lining of my straw hat and tied a Long ribbon through it. Then tie the ribbon that is attached to the hat, to a loop or handle or anywhere you can string the ribbon to on your bag. See below, so easy! And there you have your hat attached to your handbag and you can go out with it slinging on your bag without any hassle! And just untie it and wear the hat when you're in the sun! Soo easy right?

I was so pleased with this idea that I decided to make it far more durable. So this what you'll need to make a hat carry-on loop for yourself.

Your hat, sewing kit, ribbon, and a ring clasp.

First, you cut a length of ribbon, no need for it to be too long, maybe about the length of your palm. I use ribbons because they're easier as the sides are all finished and they won't fray. Except the parts where you cut, you can always burn them so that it seals the tips from fraying, or for me I just hem it up. So just loop the ribbon in half, and sew the tips together like below:

Then all you need to do is sew this ribbon loop to the inner lining of your hat, like so:

After that, you're pretty much done! 

All you have to do now is hook it to your bag! Using the ring clasp, just hook it onto your bag's handle or loop etc! And you're ready for your day out in the sun with your hat! 

And no hassle of carrying your hat around all day with you! It will just hang on to the side of your bag, and there is no additional bulk or getting your hands full!

And when you want to wear your hat, unhook it and leave the ring clasped to your bag, and hide the ribbon inside your hat as you wear it. Easy peasy!

Enjoy your day out!


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hair tips

Happy Sunday to all! It's been too long since we've shared anything here, so I'd like to write a part 2 to my previous post about Taking care of your hair.

This is a follow up to updAte you on the effectiveness of the products after a long period. So in that previous post I was using L'occitane's volumising shampoo, And it has been about 3 months now. The effects of the shampoo is, in all honesty, really terrible for my hair!

It was over drying my hair that it became so hard and stiff. I was using the Moroccan hair oil treatment with it at the time ( also seen in the previous post), which was the only thing that made it soft and bearable. But I had to use it everyday in order to save my hair, even skipping it a day will result in a big unruly stiffened mess on my head, because of this shampoo. However I do have to say that I think it is helping with the volumising effect, as it promises. My hair does feel fuller, but it was giving more texture in them rather than more hair growth - I guess that's why it was so stiff.

Organix Repairing Awapuhi Ginger Conditioner

And this is where Organix repairing awapuhi ginger conditioner comes in! I got it after I finished the Moroccan oil treatment, and I must say this conditioner is far more effective! And it really does leave my hair silky soft and luscious even after shampooing with the volumising shampoo! 

I definitely feel better about my hair now. If you asked me if I'd get L'occitane's shampoo again, I might if I'm going to use this conditioner, but I think I'm more likely to try out the other organic products instead.

Hair Tips:
1. Trim your hair at least 1-2 inches after every 3 months, if every 6 months trim at least 3 inches. This gets rid of the dead ends and let's the new hair grow out healthier without the frizzy split ends

2. If you follow my steps of hair care, here is what I do daily: shampoo, condition in shower - leave it on for 5 mins so do a scrub down while you leave it in. Then after shower, towel dry hair, and when its still slightly damp, slather on organix vanilla silk serum (seen in previous post). Blow dry, then slather on more of the serum - the first application was to protect hair from the hair dryer, then the second application is to keep it moisturised, this should be done even when using curling iron too.

3. Never colour or bleach hair! This is the worst thing you can do to your hair and scalp!

4. If you can afford it or have time for it, do a hair mask or treatment for your hair at least twice a month. At a salon or even a home one with a drugstore product is good enough.

Hope this helps you to a better hair day!


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Some Monkeys and a Little Whimsy ~

Yay! Finally some updates from S.T. all the way from China!

On another note, my aunt from UK came home for a visit few weeks ago, and while she was here I got to spend some rare quality time with her kids. I am obsessed with their British accents! It's such a thrill to hear small children speak in whole sentences with that rounded accent!

And so before they returned home, I made them some sock monkeys! I found this great tutorial on another blog on how to make them, it's super easy and it looks so professionally done that my aunt and cousins could not believe I made them. You can find the full tutorial here [btw Joanne, the other blogger is genius at crafts!]

And when one of my friends saw it she instantly wanted one, so with her birthday just around the corner, I made her one too. I also made her a bookmark. The bookmark was inspired by S.T. actually, she made one before, with just the locket frame, and in it she had printed out the a favourite quote from a book of the person that she was giving it to.

Being inspired, I made one with my drawing instead, and the one here features my favourite drawing of the Eiffel Tower. I felt the whole feel of the bookmark is rather whimsical, as the back of the locket frame I've also added a quote - If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion." - Avram Noam Chomsky

Get inspired! till next time...


Monday, 17 September 2012

S.T: Cocktail: YuZu Daydream

Hello hello,

Its been an exciting week in Shanghai, with the start of school term and Autumn making its way into this part of the world. The days are beautiful, with lots of sunshine and cool breezes, almost like an English summer. I have so much to blog about, so much to share but I guess I'll pick my battles.

Teacher's Day recently passed and the school I'm teaching at gave everyone a jar of Citron tea, or as what I call it, Yu Zu. Its declicious and a popular beverage served at Japanese and Korean restaurants. Its also easily available at supermarkets.

It looks like a jam concentrate and to drink it, you simply dissolve it in water and the result is a tangy, sweet and chunky beverage that bears a semblance to honey lemon teas.

So guess what I did with my jar?

Yup, I boozed it up and it made one TASTY beverage.

Its absolutely delicious, refreshing and the alcohol hits you hard because you can't taste it. You guzzle it like a HumVee guzzling gas. Not a pretty picture I know but still. Gorilla decided to name it YUZU Daydream. And yes, it will send you into a hazy stupor of happiness and giggles.

YUZU Daydream
3 Tbspns of Citron Jam
300ml of Tonic Water
60ml of Bombay Saphire Gin

1. Mix Jam and Gin together.
2Add the tonic water and stir till well cmbined.
Serve chilled.

Try it, its the perfect summery cocktail.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Greetings from Shanghai! -S.T

Hello all!

Its been quite a hiatus for me, having moved to Shanghai and almost after 2 glorious months, I finally managed to get the VPN working and hence, able to blog!

Its been quite an adventure, having to go back to dealing with messy paint and screaming children to checking out live jazz bars in Shanghai.

Here is just a quick visual summary of what I've been up to:

Its been a great adventure and like anywhere new, you have to embrace everything that happens with a great sense of humour and adventure. :)

I'll be blogging more about the nightlife, great bargain shopping places, craft shops and recipes so keep watching this space! :)


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Taking Care of your Hair

If you have been following our blog, you would know that I've tried dyeing my hair about a year ago due to greys, and as much as I liked the idea that I can cover my age, and my reviews on the hair dyes still stands - I regret dyeing my hair!

The chemicals in hair dyes are terrible for your hair and scalp! And honestly I'd really rather have my greys than what the dyes did to it! So until I explore natural hair remedies to cover greys - that are not harmful to hair or scalp - I have been trying all ways to recover the softness in my hair.

I am all about departmental brands or herbal natural remedies when it comes to beauty aids - mostly because I cannot afford the luxurious brands or facials every month etc. If you can then great for you! Go do that because yes it is true, money can really buy you better skin, better hair, better health and better everything!

So for the middle class folks like me, we have to experiment... and I did. So here is the best result thus far in repairing my damaged hair.

My Hair 2 months ago-

Ok bad photo, but good enough to see how frizzy and split my hair was... you can see the ends of my hair are now brown as it gets that way after the chemicals in your hair dyes are stripped over the months of washing.. 

At this point, I was using Dove intense repair series. It was wonderful when I used it before dyeing my hair.. but after, not so much. Considering that the intense repair series is supposed to help hair that are damaged by chemicals, it did not really help. 

So I tried getting a hair trim at my neighbourhood saloon - bad move! The silly scissors that is half-comb and half-blade that is used for thinning the hair [to get the layered effect] is really bad, it gives split ends! And that was what the saloon used and I ended up with plenty of split ends... But still workable.

I then decided to bite the bullet a little, and bought Organix hair products. I've always seen this brand on the shelves, and for frugal people like me, this is much higher priced than most other products in a pharmacy. But I was desperate, so I got the Moroccan Argan Oil leave on conditioner and Vanilla Silk Serum at about $15 each. I also ventured a little further for my pockets, I went to L'occitane and bought the Volumising shampoo.

Ok firstly, I wouldn't suggest the L'occitane shampoo to everyone, I got it on impulse and got sucked in by the store's warm and sweet smelling and dreamy marketing strategies. It's really expensive considering it's only a 500ml bottle of shampoo [that's gonna end up down the drain anyway] at $53. But I do like the idea that it's supposed to be for volumising, because I have very thin hair, and have quite bad hair fall.

I liked this collection as they are all organic products, and I'm quite conscious these days about Parabens - especially after using Korres [no parabens in Korres products is the biggest selling point - ok to digress a bit.. Parabens is an ingredient in plenty of beauty products that has been causing some controversy as research has shown that breast cancer cells have shown a presence of Paraben in them - although no solid proof has linked that the ingredient of Paraben in beauty products are the cause of breast cancer.., but then again, if you can avoid it, why not right?] So none of these contains Parabens, and the all natural and organic oils etc sounds all so delicious for my hair!

So my routine is - Shampoo, leave on the conditioner, towel dry hair and apply serum to hair. The bottle for the conditioner says for ultimate effects, apply conditioner then wrap in warm towel - but I'm too lazy. I started doing the conditioner like once in 2 weeks, and the serum after every shower. But these past couple of weeks I've been doing it every evening.

Hair now-

Okok bad photo, I just took it while in the office... but hey even so, you can see the difference! I can feel the difference too! My hair is back to it's softness from before the hair dyes! And it's far less tangly too! 

I find that the one product that made the biggest difference was the Moroccan Argan Oil conditioner. It really left hair so soft and silky. The serum is pretty good too, just that if applied to completely dry hair, it gets really sticky and heavy - so don't use too much of it. The Shampoo is good too, but it doesn't lather as much, of course considering that it is supposed to be mostly natural ingredients - its volumising effect has yet to show much results but who knows, maybe in a couple months!


p.s. see my follow up on these products here