As a courtesy to me and the universe, please speak to me before you copy or transcribe anything from this blog for profit- my work may be unpublished but it is of value to me, and if you are using my ideas to profit, hey, I want my cut of it!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stamping Melee

So, I finally got stamping over the last little while. This card was inspired by a picture someone had taken of the picture boards from the recent Stampin'Up! cruise. I had done some square purses using my square punch. This is using the round tab punch. This is going to be for a birthday card for my friend Candace, who turns 31 (I think).
All Stampin'Up supplies unless noted.
Paper: Barely banana (or so saffron), old olive, basic black and non SU shimmery white.
Inks: Dewdrop Versafine Chalk Pastels(TeaLeaves), Versamark, Black Embossing Powder
Stamps: Happy Everything, Snow flurries
Accessories-silver cord, black and antique brads, micro hole punch, round tab punch, dimensionals.

Next card is one I completed for my monthly Swap Club. The challenge was to use a media apart from inks. I chose to watercolour. I borrowed this set from my friendPeggy about a month ago and am still sitting on it. I figured I should use it at least, to justify the loan.
Paper: Vintage violet, old olive, non SU (shhh!) shimmery white.
Inks: Versamark, Platinum EP, olive, violet, blush blossom, close to cocoa, choc chip, cranberry, black.
Stamps: Cowboy Kid
Accessories: Aquapainter, metallix pens (gold, blue and red for the star, the kerchief and muzzle on horse), antique brad, slit punch.
The next card is one I made for my sister, who is travelling for the next six weeks. I love the doggy Patch. Patch is from A Muse Art Stamps. He is stamped with Versamark and embossed with black EP. I stamped patch on the non-SU shimmery paper (yes, I love it- it has silver shimmer and I ordered lots off it off a papershare I found.) I also used my Marvy mega square scallop punch to make the black frame for Patch. Organdy polka dot ribbon is from Michaels, as is the Hearts embossed red cardstock paper.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I logged on to work this morning and the default screen is our work intranet. Usually it's filled with announcements and news tidbits relevant to our place of work. So, one of my coworkers is trying to raise funds for a diabetes marathon in Spain next year. Good for her, I thought- and I clicked on it to see what she had to say. So- she needs to raise close to 6500 dollars and she is starting a fundraising campaign. This is how she is going to do it- she will sell chocolates, pies, cookies and Mundare sausages/burgers to raise the money. I commend her for what she is doing but does *anyone* not see the irony in all of this? It's like the Kidney Foundation selling salted peanuts to raise funds. I suppose one would try and raise money any way that works. But there are other non food related ways- like raffles of quilts, or other items. Or get corporate sponsors. Maybe its really not my place to say anything- however, I *am* expressing my own opinion.

What is Mundare sausages, you may ask? It's sausage from a little town East of Edmonton. It's really quite famous- and they make all kinds of processed sausages (its actually run by a Ukrainian family called Stawnichy-and its a smoked pork garlic sausage, which is quite lean comapred to similar products. It has become a Christmas tradition that I buy friends the sausage for Christmas.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The pressure's on

It started with a simple comment- get on with the blogging- alright, you anonymous visitor, you- *do* at least let me know *which* naggy friend you are. I was complaining to my sister that I was feeling rantless and uninspired about blogging. I really didn't feel like I wanted to say anything. The weather has been improving significantly and everything is starting to get green here. Of course, my whole take on blogging is I must have something worthwhile to say-or else why say it at all.
So, I was hunting through my hard drive for some pictures and I stumbled upon a little piece of writing that I did. I am not a writer, but sometimes, when I am motivated or effected enough, I sit down and write.

This piece is called "Double Wok Cooking".I wrote it in April, 2004

I had just returned from Easter holidays from my mum’s. What precipitated this journal entry is the reception that I got from mum. Some background- I have always helped mum in the kitchen. From as young as I remembered- she always got me to prepare the evening meal for her. I was her sous chef extraordinaire. I chopped and pounded. I hated pounding. My eyes watered and I cried as the pungent fumes from those shallots and garlic and even chilli assaulted my eyes.” Mum, is this enough? “ I would ask- hoping that it was. Invariably, mum would say- no- just a little bit more. And I tried everything to shield myself form the fumes- I had a potcover I used as a shield- I remember its black phenolic knob- dull with years of use- the curved dome of the battered aluminium cover.
I remember the ridges on the cover, where dirt and grease from previous cooking sessions had gathered in the grooves as I insistently and reluctantly pounded away at the mixture. Sometimes I would be treated to splashes of onion juice- especially when the shallots were extra juicy. As I grew older, I used to rebel against this dreaded chore. I always harangued mum about using the blender, instead- why can’t you use your blender- its much easier, mum. The onions will dull the blade- and the plastic would absorb the flavour and the next time you want to blend something nice you’d get the flavour onions tinging whatever juice you were concocting. I remember the triumphant time I returned home from my friend Carol’s place- mum, mum- Carol’s mother uses the blender--they take the pungency out by blending salt and water at the end of the session. Can’t we try that? Mum never let up and gave in. I could not understand why she was so reluctant to use the appliances that made things so much easier.

When I moved out, I bought a little chopper to do my rempah (spice mix). No more chopping and pounding for me. Whrrrrr- whrrr-whrrrrr went the chopper and my onions and garlic and ginger- the holy trinity of Malaysian cooking- was nicely minced up finely. My cooking, although praised by all my friends, never tasted like mums. Mum’s was the holy grail- it was what we (my darling sister and I) strived for. There was a metallic taste. I’d cook something for hours to get around the metallic taste. No matter what I did- it was never the same. It irked and annoyed me to no end. I was always trying something new- and mum would always have some sort of comment for me and it would annoy me since she never tried making a new dish and there she was, offering me suggestions on something she knew nothing about. I was stubbornly relentless about her suggestions. I had all these gadgets to help me cook-and in my mind- it was never good enough- because it’s not like hers.

But then, I moved away. I really missed mum’s cooking. And this leads me back to the story. I returned home and she had cooked some Kuey Teow (pan fried broad rice noodles) for me. It was Good Friday so it was no meat day. The kuey teow was delicious. Its simplicity- the mix of flavours the salt and freshly ground pepper- it was perfect. I was amazed that my mother created this magical dish out of so little- noodles, some chilli paste, garlic, chives, egg. I asked her how she made it. In her own style, she proceeded to tell me. Mum, when she is relaying recipes, was bound to leave something out. So the next day, she showed me. By then, it was Saturday-we dragged out the lap cheong and I had picked up some shrimp and so today’s was going to be even more delicious. The kuey teow had to be nuked for 120 seconds to soften it. Then they had to be “peeled” to separate the sheets of noodles. I chopped the chives. I cut the lap cheong diagonally. I chopped the garlic. She pulled out two eggs. She was using her crappy frypan- once long ago, it was non-stick, but the Xylan or Teflon coating has since worn off.

“Mum, why don’t you use the non stick pan I got you?-Oh, I don’t want it to lose its non-stickyness.

Arrgghh!! Mum- I’ll get you a new pan…. "Don’t worry, I already started", she said. In went the garlic- it sizzled gently as she didn’t believe in turning the stove on to full/ high heat. The fear was it would heat up and explode.

“ But mum, the man always had it on high heat…” This “man” we keep referring to is the man who sold char kuey teow daily. The infamous “man” is a hawker who perfected the art of one dish and one dish alone. He would have a charcoal or a gas stove and I remember the coals being red hot and the pan sizzling. Mum didn’t budge- and in went the garlic. In went in the noodles-“wait, wait, I didn’t finish peeling it.” Mum with her asbestos fingers kept peeling the kueh teow in the pan. In went in the chilli paste. She started another pan- her little sauté pan to lightly toast/brown the lap cheong (chinese sausage). Mum, I don’t understand why you are cooking with two pans. “Couldn’t you have tossed the lap cheong first, then add the garlic- that way the flavour to the garlic?” She ignored me. In went the soy sauce and some salt, dark sauce. She was turning the noodles in the pan. She sprinkled some water in. Some sugar went in too. She deftly transferred the lap cheong to the pan and cracked an egg into the sauté pan. I was about to ask- and she explains- if you add egg to the noodles, it would drop the temperature and the egg won’t cook. And as you turn the noodles, the egg would coat the noodles and you won’t see the big chunky pieces like the “man’s”." But mum, the man adds the egg to the pan” “But the man has a better stove and control of his fire” she says. The egg was half cooked when she tossed it into the main fry pan. She carelessly broke the egg as she turned the noodles. In went the taugeh(bean sprouts) and the chives. The prawns got the same treatment as the eggs- her rationale was a drop in the temp as you add more food to the pan. Then she pulls out her batu tumbuk, her granite mortar and pestle, and gives in a few pounds. There were peppercorns in there and she carefully took some pounded pepper out and tossed it into the pan. The peppercorns, I toasted to release the aromatic fragrance, she explains. The shrimps go in last and the dish was ready. It was divine. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also sat down to write the recipe out.

When I got back home, I was determined to repeat the dish. I had everything on hand, and then some. I followed it to the “T” and much to my dismay- it did not taste like hers. There was this hollow taste in it- something was definitely missing. Arrggghhh!

I repeated it the second time- this time, I made sure I had some prawn stock- mum’s trade secret. She usually sets aside the shells of peeled prawns to make a stock. The dish tasted better- but it still was not like mums. I even tried the double wok method, cooking in two places so it would taste like hers.

I’ve thought lots about this- and the conclusion I can come to is that the missing ingredient is love. Mum, when she prepares food, demonstrates her love for us. She does everything lovingly. It really does make a difference.

During the weekend- we talked extensively about cooking. It seems that my desire to make my food taste like hers is just shadowed by her attempts to make her food tastes like her mums. She was saying that no matter how, it never tasted like her mums. And I saw the irony of this all. We were all striving for something we remember and perhaps all our food will never exactly taste like our mum’s- we are, after all, different individuals touched and affected by different circumstances. This does not diminish the love and effort we put into our cooking and the memory is always there and perhaps it’s a goal we can all aspire to.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Waiting Game

We are always waiting. Waiting for others. Waiting for a good opportunity. Waiting for the doctor. Last week, I waited in line for a new passport. I work in the same building as the passport office and had been watching the line grow and snake around the fountain and back again. Some days are worse than others. The beginning of the week is bad- so is the beginning and the end of the month, after holidays and after its been on the news.So there I was, patiently waiting in line along with everyone else, resigned to waiting.
We wait for better times, we wait for spring (have we ever been waiting- there still is snow on the ground and I spent 10 minutes this morning, scraping off the ice on my stairs so the postman doesn't slip and fall when he brings me my bills and the swaps I've been waiting for). Is it just a human thing- this waiting?

On the weekend, I was in Calgary and spent some alone time with my canine nephews and got this lovely picture of them waiting for their "parents" who had gone out for Easter dinner. They looked particularly cute, those boys. Van Gogh "Go Go" Feener is the spotchy one and Salvador "Bo Bo" Feener is the fawn coloured greyhound. They both ended up taking my brother-in-law's name so when they get into trouble, they are called by their full name, just like all us humans are when we are in the doghouse. Gogo and Sal, as I like to call them, are very different. Sal is content to wait patiently, while Gogo is very impatient and isn't shy to let you know- although that dog exhibits incredible tenacity when he wants something and will wait if he thinks there is a reward for him at the end of it (usually it's food and just for his sheer willpower, we often cave and give in to him). My father and him share a very funny relationship and Gogo has no qualms about complaining loudly through crying when dad teases him by denying him his reward.

Right now, I am waiting for a friend to give birth. I made some card samples for her in case she wants to use the idea for her baby announcements.Actually, I just love making samples even if I don't have babies to announce. This is a 4.25inch x 4.25inch card.
Paper: Old olive cs, Barely banana cs
Stamps: "sweet" from So Very ( Stampin'Up! Saleabration 2007 set), Polka dots from Stampin'Up! Petals and Paisley Set.
Inks:Celery, Versamark, white EP
Accessories:Mega scallop punch, Cuttlebug "It's a Girl" embossing set, chalks, wide olive grosgrain ribbon.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Baby announcements

No, I am *not* having a baby. That would be a miracle in itself. It seems like everyone around me is pregnant and bringing forth life into this world. All except me. I have no problems with this since I can barely look after my own needs- I cannot fathom looking after a totally helpless child.
So- one of the reasons why I started this blog is one of vanity. And the desire to share my (lack of) creativity. Since you are here, you likely know who I am. I am not really advertising my blog. I am not after the masses to sing my praises( in adulation, no less)- and neither am I bribing the masses to come visit by offering blog candy (sorry Pegs, this will be a very boring blog with NO BLOG CANDY) . This is my attempt to create and help others recreate. And share my acerbic wit with those around me.

I recently joined STAMPIN'UP! as a demonstrator. I believe enough in their product to want to sell thier stuff. I have been, however, a stamper waaay before I heard of STAMPIN'UP! so I may not be as loyal to them as others. in some projects , but you will see other companies products on my blog too.

Right- back to the creativity thing- I want to share my works of art with others. Maybe it will inspire you. Maybe it will BORE YOU TO DEATH, or even worse, *indifference* or it might stir you to take action, even if it is to beg me to stop.

Enough with the blather-and getting back to my commentary on baby announcements. I made this card for a Baby Announcement Swap last month. I really like how this turned out. I don't know if I have a style per se, but I like things that move on my cards. Dangly things (no dirty thoughts now), things that swing and move, you will likely see on the cards I make.
All items are Stampin'Up! unless noted.
Paper: thyme cs, whisper white cs, black cs
Inks: Classic mustard, rust, thyme, mustard reinker for ribbon
Accessories: micro punch, horizontal slot punch, sponge daubers
Embellishments: hand dyed grosgrain ribbon, Offray microcheck black and white ribbon, hemp twine
Stamps: Wild about you, Linen
Stamp linen and flowers on thyme paper with thyme ink. Stamp lion in mustard on white piece. Using sponge daubers, ink mustard lightly around the lion. Ink lion in rust on separate piece of paper and cut out. Stick over mustard piece with dimensional to pop up the mane, staggering the mane to give it more dimension. Edge paper with mustard pad, mat with black. Punch with horizontal slit in corner, tie ribbons. Punch holes for the hanging tag and tie together with hemp twine.