Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Tabby satchels have been surprisingly popular since I started making them, and I've had many requests especially for custom ones. I've been intrigued to observe though, that while I offer customers pretty much free rein with regard to colours and prints, they invariably choose the same fabrics they see in my shop pictures, or some combination thereof. So I thought I'd make some ready-to-ship ones using different fabrics, just to give people some idea that Tabby really does like colour :)

This Tabby features a grey seaweed print, with a happy pop of bright pink and tangerine for the lining and strap.

An additional cute thing is the inner pocket, which is made of linen printed with Parisian landmarks -- I like the unexpected bits of blue and turquoise.

This Tabby is made of an adorable Parisian park-printed linen.

There is an entire market scene on the other side, complete with poodle, Dior-style outfit and flower stand.

Seaweed and Parisian Tabbies are available here and here :)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sylvanian Chronicles

Becky's been writing a sort of serialised story about her Sylvanians, and yesterday she posted her latest installment on her blog. I couldn't help giggling a little when I read it, so I thought I'd share it with you (as you know I'd once said I'd occasionally do :)

It's a great way to get kids interested in reading and writing I think, but as I don't let mine have more than 20 minutes a day on the computer (if at all), B has to do most of her writing the old-fashioned way -- with pencil and paper!

* * * * * * *

There was a lot of excitement because at last the Sylvanians had caught the intruder! It was a big orange cat from the Outside World! Everyone noticed that the orange cat was shivering. It did not look well or happy. Mr Owl went to get Matron from the sick bay just in case it fainted or something.


Everyone let Mr Walnut Cat speak to it, because after all, he is also a cat. "We have caught you at last," he said sternly. It was the voice he always used when he was scolding the kids, which they hated. "You have been stealing our food and doing goodness knows what else. That is very naughty indeed. But now that we've caught you, you had better tell us who you are".


And this was what the orange cat did when it heard Mr Walnut Cat's scoldy voice. Immediately, everyone went "Awww". Matron said, "Poor thing, you're shivering with cold and you look very hungry. I think you have a bit of a temperature too. Come to the sick bay and rest. You can have some cookies and hot chocolate and in the morning when you feel better you can tell us all about yourself".


So everyone led the orange cat up to the sick bay. Only Hester Honeyfox was there and she was already asleep. She had been having her usual sniffly nose from smelling too many flowers. Mr Owl said he would stay up with Matron to watch the orange cat since he usually didn't sleep at night anyway. Matron was glad to have him around to chat to. Staying up alone all night could be pretty boring.

They gave the orange cat some hot chocolate and put it to bed. It seemed to be really exhausted by everything that had happened, and did not even want any cookies. It lay down in bed with a grateful sigh and was soon purring in its sleep. "The poor thing is worn out," whispered Matron to Mr Owl. "What an interesting life it must lead". Mr Owl nodded and stared at the cat in that way owls do. "I wonder what we'll find out tomorrow!" he said.

What do you think is in store for the Sylvanians and their strange intruder? Stay tuned to find out!

P.S. I've put all the chapters of this story together here in case you missed any part! Ch 1, Ch 2, Ch 3, Ch 4. See you again soon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

go ahead and say it

"Toe-tappin' goodness, wonderful sentiment, and what a cutie!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

on being thankful to have children at all

Love 'em.

If there's one thing about being pregnant, in my corner of the world at least, it's being subject to this preoccupation with, or emphasis on, the importance of having sons. Every single person who's spoken to me -- outside of my immediate family -- has said something along the lines of, "Hope this time it's a boy!" Yesterday evening I had to bring Ro to the GP, and the nurse there went, "If it's a boy, it'll be perfect!" Which of course it would be, but not any more than if it were a girl. Yet the distinct implication was that it would be rather a blow if we did have another daughter.

I'll never forget how, when I was pregnant with Ro, this lady came up and asked if the baby were a boy or a girl. When I said (with a smile, mind) that it was a girl, she actually stroked my back comfortingly, saying, "Never mind, you can still try for a boy next time". I was so incredulous that I could only stammer out, "But we're perfectly fine that it's a girl!" It probably sounded like a pathetic attempt to make the best of an unfortunate situation. And then, on learning I have two daughters, people would feel free, perhaps even justified, to tell me, nay, admonish me, to "try for a boy".

Well obviously, I would never dream of ever being disappointed in my girls, and, as it turns out, Rebecca loves having a sister; the girls share and do things together that I don't think could happen in quite the same way between a boy and girl. I have friends and relatives whose children are one of each, and they don't seem to have quite the same dynamism in their relationships. I guess in some ways there is truth to that "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" idea -- boy and girls are perhaps fundamentally different; they're interested in different things; they communicate differently and approach the world in different ways. And then of course, if you were one of those girls who had sexist parents who always preferred your brother...

Clearly, we are fine with either a boy or a girl -- they are both blessings from God, good and perfect gifts from above -- but I must admit to being a little tired of people everywhere making these senseless sexist remarks. Even people in their 20s and 30s -- whom I consider young and therefore somehow above these archaic, prejudiced notions -- tell me that "hopefully, it's a boy this time!"; they even tell me that I must be hoping it's a boy. Like, ??!

My husband tried to explain that it has something to do with the Chinese character for "good", which looks like it is made up of the characters for "girl" and "boy", or "female" and "male". So it's something about how, together, they bring happiness and good fortune, but then you know how I feel about superstition!

Of course, I know it also has to do with the fact that boys are historically seen to be of more use on the family farm, or in the family business -- an idea I can appreciate if we were still labouring on our plantation, but which I'm not so sure about now in a developed society where women outpace men in college degrees and perform equally well in management.

Then, there's the perpetuation of the family name, that prevention of the extinction of the family line. To me this just seems to be another weird sexist attitude which has somehow prevailed -- the idea that a man's family and name simply must be preserved -- and that through another man -- as though they were somehow inherently superior. Many women have as much reason to be proud of their historical and cultural backgrounds, which I suppose is one reason there is increasing social acceptance of women keeping their maiden names and even passing them on to their children. We don't seem to have quite shed the doctrine of coverture, in force in the 19th century and much of the 20th, under which a married woman did not have a separate legal existence from her husband.

Funnily enough, it seems that perhaps this predilection for boys may not necessarily be a Chinese or even an Asian thing (sex-selective abortion in India, for instance) -- I remember reading an article last year about a Gallup poll finding that more Americans would prefer a boy rather than a girl if they were only allowed to have one child (it goes without saying what most Chinese would say!). What was especially interesting to me was that the results of that survey were very similar to those found when the same question was asked of Americans in 1941, and that those results stayed pretty much the same over the intervening years (the same poll was taken 10 times since 1941).

I'm no expert, but I can't help wondering about the discrimination and sexism that this sort of thinking reflects, even in our so-called modern, forward-thinking society. The fact is, gender preference does reflect an active depreciation of women, does it not? I recently got through all the episodes of The Tudors, and couldn't help marvelling at how we haven't come very far from Natalie Dormer's Anne Boleyn sobbing when she learnt that she'd delivered a girl, or Jonathan Rhys Meyers' Henry's ecstatic exclamation of, "I have a son!"

Well, the Chinese New Year is fast approaching, and the traditional get-togethers are prime occasions for more of these pointless remarks -- I'll either launch into a diatribe on sexism and the oppression of women, or just smile and shrug. Hm...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I've mentioned this site before, but it's so much more fun when shared with Graham Norton and Ewan McGregor :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

thoughts while bedbound

Sick as a dog, or, Master Bedroom, by Andrew Wyeth

Whenever I am bedbound like this -- and let me say that whenever I have been bedbound like this it's been for the same reason!! -- I think of Amanda in Enid Blyton's Last Term at Malory Towers. Amanda was a big, strong girl who had come to Malory Towers because her old school had been destroyed in a fire. Trenigan Towers had been famous for sports, and Amanda was so good at them that she realistically expected to go in for the Olympic Games.

Well, in her pride and self-confidence, she decides to go for a swim in the sea one day, which the girls are actually forbidden to because of the strong currents. Eventually, her strength is no match for the pounding waves, and she is flung onto the rocks, which badly injure her. She is rescued of course -- we can't have anything too tragic in an Enid Blyton school story! -- but it is the end of her Olympic dreams.

"[Matron] left Amanda for an afternoon sleep. But Amanda didn't sleep. She lay thinking. What long long thoughts come to those in bed, ill and in pain! Amanda sorted a lot of things out during the time she was ill".

Well, I've been having lots of "long long thoughts" these few weeks. How true it is that time flies when you're having fun, and how true it is in reverse! The minutes and hours and days pass so slowly, I am literally counting them. Nausea clearly numbers among the worst of physical sensations -- draining, debilitating and depressing; irrationally, I find myself resenting that "command post" for nausea and vomiting which is apparently located in the brain stem.

Morning sickness is described in my pregnancy bible as "pure misery", and I keep looking at those words -- the same way I did twice before! -- and thinking, Amen!!! You can say that again! And again. And again. And again. What is the point of feeling like this, I wonder, when pregnancy should be as natural as breathing? Who even came up with that stupid name "morning sickness"?? It should be called all day sickness, or just plain sickness.

The weather has been an oppressive 30, 31 degrees daily. It is a drag seeing the kids go out during their school holidays with everyone except me. It is a drag not being able to participate in setting up the Christmas tree or do any Christmas shopping at all. Instead, I spend my time looking out the window, or at my toes, mentally dissecting the word nausea and noticing how closely it's tied to the word disgust. I start thinking I find both words equally revolting, as well as other words like vomit, acid, and oily.

I don't understand why women have to go through this -- being nauseated to the point where you don't feel like eating anything, or puking to the point where you keep nothing down, when surely now is one of those times when proper nutrients are even more vital than usual.

Here is a list of things I have been able to keep down in small (read tiny) quantities:
- Jammy toast (every. single. day).
- Strawberry milk
- Yogurt
- Instant noodles
- Fruit cocktail (does this count as fruit?)
- Tums (I'm pretty certain this does not count as food)
- Skittles (nor this)

Here is a list of things which sounded so good in theory, but which refused to stay down:
- Apples
- Melon
- Saltines
- Fish porridge
- Orange juice

Looking over these lists, I don't know how I can agree with the scientists who propound the "evolutionary" theory of pregnancy sickness, which explains the nausea and vomiting as being necessary for the mother to avoid such foods as meat and strong-tasting vegetables, which historically may contain harmful toxins and microorganisms.

And then, to top it all off, my cousin comes to see me a couple of times, and takes the opportunity on each occasion to make such useful remarks as, "Ask God why women have to go through this". As if I needed that added to my feelings! Clearly, God isn't going to give me the answer to such a question, the sort that has plagued philosophers and scholars since the beginning of time.

I don't know why ok?! I can only press on in faith, trusting to God's inherent goodness, and the fact that His plans are for my welfare and not my harm, however I may feel at this particular space in time. Ultimately, I know of course that this too shall pass. I think anyone who's going through anything can rest assured of that.

Well, If there's one thing that I've developed since actively striving to walk closer with God, it's a watch over my mouth. Unlike the miserable, complaining mess I was when I was puking for seven weeks straight with Rebecca, I now refuse to let anything negative come out of my mouth.

With Becky, I remember ranting and raving at my mother on the phone after having had an especially disgusting time at the toilet bowl; gratitude for all my blessings -- including a husband and daughters who help in every way they can -- has since made a slightly wiser woman of me. However crappy I feel now, I refuse to say, or even think, anything pessimistic or self-pitying. I've learnt over the years that it simply does no good, and now is one of those times where I pray hard throughout the day to keep that in mind. "Tomorrow will be better" I say to Becky at the end of each day (which is now at a very praiseworthy 9pm!).

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof". And, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you". I don't know why God lets women -- and apparently no other mammals! -- go through this, but speaking for myself, I believe God is using it to teach me patience, humility, fortitude, an even temper, and yes -- a sense of humour.

* I wrote this intermittently in bed between weeks 7 to 11 (with a pencil and paper no less!); I'm now happily back to eating my beloved apples and broccoli, praise the Lord. I am at present under the verge of puking -- as opposed to being on the verge (or just plain puking) -- which I consider a wonderful improvement. Tomorrow will be better, and the day after even more so...


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