Saturday, June 20, 2015

Easy Father's Day Gift DIY Tutorial

This year marks the first Father's Day for my husband. I thought to commemorate this special privilege by personalising a cup for him.
A little bit cheesy maybe, but what's better to have something encouraging greet you every morning when you need a cuppa.

So here's a tutorial for you too.

Materials needed for a personalised mug:

- A plain cup (I got mine from Muji)
- Marabu ceramic paints (they have a ceramic marker line too if you're not so comfortable with a paintbrush)
- Pencil + Eraser (optional)
- Paintbrushes
- Alcohol wipes
- Oven


1. Have a design in mind
2. Wash and dry your mug
3. Wipe the surface area you intend to have design on with an alcohol pad
4. With your pencil roughly sketch in your design. Or if you're daring, just go straight for it with your paint. You can always wipe off whatever is unwanted/redo with alcohol wipes

5. Leave design to dry for at least 4 hours
6. Place designed mug into cold oven
7. Heat oven to 170℃ and let it bake for 30 minutes
8. Let mug cool in the oven

You now have a cup of your very own design that's wash proof (dishwasher safe too) and a much appreciated dad!

{Side note: You might be curious as to why I wrote #0 and not #1. That's because Jian's a coder and in geek speak, 0 always comes before one. You'll get it if you're a programmer.}

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Story of Eden's Birth

Day before Eden's Birth

I woke up from a contraction after having dreamt my water bag had burst with a bloody show. That was the first of my contractions. Thinking it was probably Braxton Hicks, I ignored the series of them. Until they kept coming throughout the day had I asked a friend who'd just given birth not too long ago what labour contractions felt like. She said it felt like diarrhoea cramps. That was the kind of pain I was having. Yet, having no other symptom of labour, I thought maybe I had eaten something bad the day before and tried to go to the toilet.

Evening came. I was still having these contractions. While having dinner with my husband, Jian, I thought to time them. At first they were 5 minutes apart, each 30 seconds long, but growing 1 minute long later. Soon, they started spreading out to 10 minutes apart, 15 minutes apart, then 30 minutes to later, 1 hour apart.

"Can't be labour, they should be nearer and nearer together not further apart," I thought to myself.

We decided to watch it throughout the night and on till the next day. Should these contractions keep happening, I'll call my doctor. After all, I didn't want to be the woman that called my gynae for every single little thing.

True enough, during the night my contractions got more severe, but they still were an hour or more apart. I prayed, asking God if these were true labour contractions, I'll have some kind of obvious symptom. 

Day of Eden's Birth

Morning came and I passed a bit of dried blood. Told my husband, this is real now. Go get us some breakfast and I'll get ready and call the gynae. As Jian was out buying bananas, I passed my mucus plug. Called the gynae and the nurse told us to head down to the hospital and he'll meet us there.

Once there, I was sent to the waiting room and the nurse hooked me up to a CTG scanner. Every time that I would contract, Eden's heartbeat would drop. And through every contraction, Jian would be there to hold my hand as I tried my best not to dig my nails into his skin. Bet he's glad I made sure to cut my nails earlier in the morning.

"We don't like the looks of this. Maybe we'll get you to turn to your other side and see if that helps your baby better," said Nurse.

It didn't. Eden's heartbeat continued to drop every time I contracted, then brought back up again when I'm not. The nurses kept monitoring me, and each time that they would come in, they'd tell me I might need to go in for an emergency caeserean. Gynae finally arrived after 30-45 minutes.

"Why is your baby so naughty? You're having a healthy pregnancy, no water is leaking from out of you, why is this happening?"said Gynae as he stripped me off the CTG scanner and put the ultrasound scanner on.

"Ah! This is why!" said Gynae as he pointed out how a bit of Eden's umbilical cord was pressing around his head.

"You have two options now. One. Either we go in to an emergency caeserean, or two. We put a pill in you to help your cervix open," Gynae stated.

Now. This is the bit where it got interesting. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I wanted as natural a birth as possible. In my head, I would do a vaginal delivery and do it without an epidural. I even bought an EPI-NO and practiced with it. When the nurses kept coming in to mentally prep me for a possible caeserean, I was shocked.

"Surely things aren't getting as serious as needing an emergency caeserean!" I thought.

Yet, each time the nurses kept coming to check on me, it gotten more real. On one of these checks, a nurse had to see how far my cervix was dilated. As she checked me, I started to contract. It was the craziest sort of pain ever. I don't have any other words to describe it but that it hurts. Insanely.

During the time before Gynae arrived, in the midst of all my contractions, I overhead the patient next to me telling a nurse how this was her third pregnancy, and how her first 2 kids were both delivered via emergency caeserean. That really comforted me.

"Okay. Maybe an emergency caeserean doesn't sound as wild as I imagined it in my head. If she have had 2 of them, it must be common enough," I reasoned to myself.

The second time I had my cervix examined for dilation by my gynae, I was sold. The pain was way too excruciating. I cried like a hysterical mad woman. To further seal my conviction, the nurse as if understanding the dilemma I was facing, casually remarked: "You know ah, if you choose a vaginal, we will have to keep checking your cervix like this."

"I choose caeserean! I choose caeserean! But, let me go pee first!" I yelled out.

Within seconds from returning from the loo, I was whisked up to the operating theatre in my bed. Everything happened so quickly. I recall trying my best to put my bravest face forward and not to cry out upon every contraction as they whizzed me past strangers in lifts and through corridors.

Moment I reached the operating room, my gynae was already scrubbed up with nurses and everybody buzzing about the room getting operation-ready. My paediatrician introduced himself to me as I signed a waiver and agreement to the surgery on the operating bed. My anaesthesiologist was puffing for air as he ran up towards me. 

Gasping for breath he panted, "I'm getting too old for this!"

The entire surgical team laughed. I didn't find it too amusing.

As he administered 4 shots of anaesthetic in me, I remembered just being thankful it would be a GA and not an epidural as I went under. May be all the horror stories I've heard, but I'm still terrified of an epidural.

The raging pain from my belly woke me up.

"Wake up! You're in the recovery room now. Surgery was successful," trailed voices whom I assumed were nurses as I peered from my sleepy eyes.

"AAOOOWWW, I'M IN SOO MUCH PAAAIINNN..." I moaned as I clenched onto the bars by the side of my bed.

"Put your hands down," said nurses passing by me.

"But I'm in so much pain!" I managed groggily.

"We've put painkillers already in your IV. Next time you do a caeserean do an epidural, you won't feel the pain," Anaesthesiologist casually mentioned as he walked up towards me.

I grabbed his hand.

"Where am I? Where's my husband? And the baby? How's everything?" I wailed trying to manage the unrelenting sting in my belly.

"You're in the waiting room, your husband is with the baby. You know ah. For a 36 week old, I expected him to be much bigger," Anaesthesiologist said while returning my grip.

"Is it because he's a dwarf?" I asked.

"That is not in my profession to say. You ask your paediatrician," he replied coolly.

Back story. In the 20th week of my pregnancy, our gynae found out Eden's long bones were measuring short. His arm and thigh bones were only measuring 2+cm, while his feet were 3+cm. He told us that it's a 99% chance, he would be a dwarf. It was hard news to swallow and a really trying time. We had a second opinion who said the same thing and kept advocating to do tests since it's such a rare thing to have the 2 of us with no family history of dwarfism to have one. We did no such thing as these tests had risks of a miscarriage.

What made it harder was having family mention the word abortion.

The pain kicked in again and I clung onto the handle bars of my bed for relief.

"Put your hands down!" barked nurses as they wheeled me out of the recovery room.

After what seemed like eternity, going in and out of sleep, I was finally reunite with my husband.

"How's Eden?" was the first question I asked him.

"He's okay. But it seems like he's small. That's what everybody's saying."

"Do you have photos of him?"

Tearing up as I saw these, I asked my husband: "Do you think he'll die?"

"I hope not," Jian replied.

"He doesn't look like a dwarf though. Does he look like a dwarf to you?"


"Me neither. I don't think he's a dwarf at all."

My paediatrician then visited me.

"Okay. He cried upon birth, but it wasn't fantastic. He had to rely 100% on oxygen machines. He's a bit better now, relying on 80%, but we're no where out of the woods. He's really small too. We're all trying to figure out why he's so small. Basically, we have the captains of the ship looking at your baby."

"Is he small because he's a dwarf?" I whimpered.

Paediatrician looked at me confused.

"He looks proportional to me. What did Gynae say?"

"He said he was a dwarf in my 20th week scan."

"I don't think he looks like a dwarf. He looks proportional."

"Can you explain to us why is his face so red?"

"Yes, his face is congested isn't it? I believe he was already travelling down your birth canal when Gynae scooped him up."

"Oh! So I would have been able to have given birth to him vaginally?" said I, still hung up about not being able to have the natural birth I envisioned.

"No," he replied starkly before he let out the mortifying truth.

"What happened was that his umbilical cord was wound up around him that every time he was descending, it was strangulating him. That's why his heartbeat kept dropping whenever you were contracting."

"So he would have died if I'd attempted a vaginal?"

"He would have died if you didn't do what you had done."

As it was a busy week in the hospital, all the single suites were taken up and I had only a double room available to me. This means, Jian could not stay over in the hospital. It was an arduous night of feeling loopy from the meds, not being able to see my child as I was in recovery and hooked up to a drip with a catheter in me, and not having my husband by my side. The lady sharing the ward with me on the other hand, had a normal delivery and the nurse would wheel her baby in every few hours for a feed. I have never experienced the pain of longing to this extent before.

Day After Eden's Birth

As soon as any nurse should come attend to me, I would immediately ask them when my tubes could be out. I knew that so long as I had them in me, I couldn't get up to see Eden.

"Upon Doctor's orders can I remove these things."

"Okay, when is he coming?"

"In the morning."

Morning finally arrived and my gynae came around.

"So small! Your baby. So small!" said Gynae as he re-enacted himself taking Eden out of me, mimicking Rafiki carrying Simba up on Pride Rock in Lion King.

"Are you hungry? I'll get them to give you some soft foods, you haven't eaten the whole day yesterday."

"Okay. But can I go see my baby?" I pleaded.

"Yes, of course. Nurse, take out her drip and catheter and make sure she gets to see her baby."

"Is it gonna hurt?" I asked Nurse when it's time to remove my catheter.

"No lah. Not pain one. Not pain at all," she assured me.

"Are you sure?" I questioned unconvinced.

"Yah, put in more pain than take out. Pain when you put in?"

"I don't know. I was under when they placed it in me."

"Not pain one. I show you. Not pain one," she repeated.

Moment she tugged on the catheter, I let out the loudest cry I've probably wailed throughout this entire episode in the hospital (and that includes contracting when the nurse had her hand in me to check how much my cervix had dilated).

"You lied to me! IT HURTS!!" I hissed.

She stopped, and left the catheter in me halfway.

"No lah! Not pain one!" she kept chanting.


She pulled the entire tube out of me. I managed a huge sigh of relief while wrestling with the smarting throb.

I heard the visitors from the patient beside me giggling from behind the curtains.

After I've composed myself from the traumatising event, I asked the nurse if I could finally see my baby.

"Mm.. No lah. Better you eat first and pee. You eat first and pee then better to see your baby," said Nurse before she left me to attend to other patients.

"Jian, please go ask another nurse for a wheelchair. I really want to go to see Eden."

"Better yet! I know where I can get one! I saw one sitting outside at the lift lobby!"

Jian returned with an orange sporty looking wheelchair.  Honestly, more go-kart than a wheelchair. Amused and impressed, I hopped off my bed and clambered into it as quick as my gash would allow me.

Eden's the most beautiful thing I ever laid my eyes on when I finally got to meet him. He responded immediately to me when he heard my voice. I had so many emotions stirring within me, I could not stop the tears from running down my face.

The immense feeling of almost losing your son and the joy of seeing him alive and even managing a smile was the most gripping thing ever. I kept thanking God how wonderfully amazing His creation was, and couldn't (still can't) believe how this wonderful child even came out of me.

Since his birth, Eden has been fighting the odds in survival. He's gotten off his breathing machines in 3 days, and could completely breathe on his own. He overcame jaundice too within a few days, and has been steadily putting on weight. He's even out of the NICU within a week and out of an incubator within days! We still face issues with his inability to produce platelets because he's so tiny, but he's growing so much by the day.

God has been very merciful throughout this time. We're very thankful for the people He has placed about us, banding together to support us through prayers, gifts and help in this great time of trial. Eden has a long way to go in recovery before he can come home with us, but we know that God is faithful and will continue to be faithful to us.

I couldn't be prouder when somebody left a comment on my Instagram feed saying: "Hey lil man, you're a radiating testimony of God's goodness!"

I'm just in wonderment that God would choose to use our little son in a manner like this for His glory.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

Friday, March 20, 2015

Evan Half Moon Coin Pouch

Took a while didn't it, for me to finally launch a marbled leather goods collection?
Evan // pronounced [ih-van]. Named after a friend who got me started on leather: Evangeline.

I've been meaning to get into leather since more than a year back now, but had no idea where to get materials nor tools from.
Prayed about it and seemingly out of nowhere, Evan just "magically" showed up in my life.

She was first introduced to me as a client, who was planning on a carnival themed wedding and wanted someone to illustrate live portraits of her guests.
While talking and getting to know her better, she revealed she's a really crafty soul and had currently picked up on leatherwork too.
She showed me all the pieces she had made on her Instagram & I just couldn't believe it.
Naturally, I jumped in with questions of suppliers and tried to get the low down on the how tos.

Evan was so nice about it and shared all her contacts with me, even lent me her tools and a small instruction book on how to hand sew leather  said she was heading off to Hong Kong for a trip and I could fiddle around with it in the meantime.
She even helped buy me my own leather tool starter kit!
I don't think I know another person more generous than she.

Our client relationship morphed into a friendship of course (almost instantaneously actually).
Naturally, I think it's only fitting and right to name my debut leather goods collection after her.

Evan Half Moon coin pouches are fully hand made by me, from its cutting, marbling to its stitching.
I love how each one is unique and absolutely impossible to replicate.

Find them here!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Muse: Shantell Martin

I can't fully recall how I've stumbled upon Shantell Martin, but it's most definitely along the lines of an online publication feature.
Her work drew me in almost immediately.
I felt a very strong connection with her bold graphical lines in black and white. 

Watching her talks and her working live, reminded me a little bit of my own style, except she was so much looser.
I really drew inspiration from her to be a lot more free in the approach to my undertakings.
I'm not sure how, but watching her work made me realised I was trying to force myself to be a "type" of artist I wasn't.

I kept imagining what it'd be like to share a studio with her and what it'd be like to pick her brains.
I just hadn't been inspired by an artist (and not just their work) in so long.
I was especially struck by her philosophy and the positivity she radiates.
I found it utterly refreshing.

I was then overwhelmed with the sensation to make a portrait of her in her element, as if pretending I had her for a studio mate.
I couldn't shake off the idea. And since I only work in black and white in my embroidery too, my hands got to it.

The background is taken from a mural she did for Y & R Global HQ, New York. I've made some tweaks to it to include all the little words I really liked.
And only after had I finished embroidering that I'd realised I've made her a leftie instead when I'd flipped her around in photoshop to make it all fit!


As I've mentioned before, embroidering portraits of strangers always made me feel a sense of closeness to them, like I know them, yet, still not.
Embroidering an artist's work conjures up an even more intimate emotion than that, which I can't quite put my finger on.
It's almost an queer awareness that this is my work, but too, not.

Should I chance upon another artist whom my soul feels akin to, I will be doing the same.
Having this embroidery now up on my new studio wall gives me a sense of company in a bizarre warm way.

I guess this qualifies as the very first fan art I've created.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Dream Home

Roxy Marj recently had an Instagram giveaway contest and it was to draw your dream home.
I'd participated in it, but too bad for me, didn't emerge as a winner.

Lately though, Jian and I have been debating on whether or not to go back to Perth, so the concept of a dream home was really challenging.

Ideally, we would have space enough to have ourselves a garden where I can grow edibles and Eden can frolic about with (possibly) our pet dog. We can't yet agree on breed of our dream canine either. Since owning land is definitely out of the question here in Singapore for us, Perth would seem like a much likelier place to have this dream come true.

If we were to remain in Singapore though, a dream home would be one of those shop houses you see in Joo Chiat or Katong. Colourful, vibrant and pattern-filled.
We'll have our home upstairs and the downstairs would be a mishmash of a small retail space and a studio where not only I can work from, but where I could conduct workshops too.
 There will be plenty of courtyard room enough for that garden.

It'll be so much fun for Eden to grow up in an environment such as this I can image; always buzzing with something to do, people to meet and things to see.

Dreaming indeed. We're not made up of the dollars. Reality-home would be any place where we can call our own.
Singapore or Perth; garden or not; big, small, it doesn't even really matter.

I don't know when, but well, one day.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dip Dye Chair Legs

If you have been following me on Instagram, you'd have known that I'd picked up this awesome stool from the trash area underneath my void deck.

I can't believe someone would toss it out. Mainly because I've been thinking about getting one just like this.
Of course though, I can see why someone would. The legs have started to rot.

I didn't think it was that big a deal and thought it'll be a relatively easy fixer-upper. Already I knew in mind what I could do with it  dip dye its legs.
I've decided to document the process and make a simple DIY tutorial.

First things first. Materials you'll need aside from your beat up stool:
Masking tape, or painter's tape + spray paint colour of your choice.

Tape off areas where you don't want the paint to go on. Make sure you get nice straight lines where the legs are. This ensures you get a neat finish.
Everywhere else doesn't really matter so long as you've sealed it off proper.

On hindsight, we should have sanded down the areas where we'd wanted spray painted too. This would have allowed our paint to grip on the wood better.

Take your spraying outdoors. You don't want to be breathing in any fumes. 
Set up your spraying area with some tarp (or newspapers) to prevent the ruining of any walls or floors.

This was what we did. We'd created a setup at our corridor.

Not necessary, but we'd placed a board down from the stool's legs as a further surety we don't get paint on any bits we didn't want either.

Follow your can's instructions and paint as many coats needed. 
Leave your stool to dry and peel off the tape after.


Yay, you've just given your furniture new life! This stool is going into the corner of our studio as a plant stand. I think it looks super cute, like it has socks on. 

All we need to do now is to decide on a plant.

My New Pets

I've got Loki, my betta, a filtered tank the other day. I have had him for exactly 1 year now.
I thought to shower him with some good lovin'. Previously, he lived in a bowl.

I was finding it too tedious anyways to give it a good cleaning every week as the algae builds up quite quickly in there.
More so now that I'm 7 months pregnant, I really am not feeling like taking on this chore anymore.

Naturally, with a huge 36 cm tank for only one critter, I thought he might need some companions aside from Merry & Pippin  my jolly cute marimos.

So, I got him some shrimp friends! I have named them Tiny Colony.
Aside from being overly eager about meeting his new pals (he chowed down on some shimplets), Loki seems to like having folks around.

I've got 8 of them. They are so much fun to watch! They are constantly busy.