By the sea

Who would have known that stickers could be so… luxe. I found these My Mind’s Eye stickers at Papermarket (this website, mindblowing) down in Singapore. MME started up as a paper-crafting, scrapbooking company and has grown into party props and you can read their story here.

The aesthetic here is strong and it isn’t really too girly, which is probably why I gravitated towards it so quickly. Who doesn’t love a nautical theme? Dani Mogstad designed these, and it’s so well put together, I can’t stop staring at it. This collection is called By The Sea, and you can see Dani’s digital scrapbooking collection here.

If you’re a planner like me, check out the Glowdown Pinterest board, aptly named Planner Girl.

#shamelessplug #butiknowyoullloveit

Just breathe?

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Filling up those lungs. That’s what you’re meant to do. There’s that 4-7-8 technique and that holding your breath method – and that’s not even thinking about pranic breathing.

Maybe you love taking deep breaths. Maybe you find it difficult. You might find it easier in the morning. You might find it a simple task to quieten your thoughts at night, to just breathe.

What does the thought of breathing deeply conjure up for you?

I tell people to do this, “breathe”. But I’ve spent most of my life being afraid to, I felt like breathing deeply was daring time to stop. Interesting, isn’t it.

It’s getting a bit easier, though, with the child pose and patchouli, a scent I never liked, but is almost hypnotic to me now.

Sometimes, who am I kidding – most of the time, I find myself wondering, “Is it good enough to just breathe? Am I being irresponsible by putting my breath first, and not the million things that need doing right now?”

Think about it. Your brain only operates properly when it receives oxygen. If you don’t have the time and space to breathe, but you expect yourself to fully engage your thinking, isn’t that kind of paradoxical?

So, yes, to answer my own question – sort of, yes. It is good enough to ‘just breathe’. But you need the strength to not panic, and keep breathing until you are calm.

Once the breathing is done, comes the decisioning, and the being alive.

 

Without my stories

I’m not sure why I am so attached to this watch. Sure, my dad gave it to me – but I usually prefer gold to silver. This suits me more and more every year. Those earrings have a story, too. I bought them on Bleecker Street, off 7th, in the Village, NYC. Do I usually do that much bling? No. But every year, come the festive season, these come out of my little storage boxes, and into the light.

Live the little things, guys. I love my bits and bobs, and I see myself as a collector of beautiful items that bring me joy and carry stories with them. If I were born in another time, in another place, I’d have a store/café – with one of kind items like these, and illustrated books. Oh, the stories. Who would I be without my stories? And who would you be, dear reader, without yours?

Earrings – made in Mexico, brand unknown; Watch – US Submarine

Of running out of reset buttons

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Does everyone get their own quota for reset buttons? I wish I knew.

As children, we used to change our minds about things all the time, every day – and maybe it was a little confusing and scary, but mostly, I imagine children have little clue what ramifications are, so we kept at it. I wonder if we really were ‘flexible’. It feels like this generation is asked to be ‘flexible’ and ‘hardworking’. Do the two go hand in hand? I can imagine how so, but I really wonder about this, you know.

If you’re flexible, you can bend, mould, shape yourself into different perspectives and try new things all the time. If you’re hardworking, you’re focused and true to your skills, and keep at it steadfastly. Both take energy. Not the same kind, perhaps.

I don’t think I’m asking ‘what does it take to bring balance between focus and flexibility‘? That’s best tackled by an actual zen master.

If and when you are lucky enough to  steer away from projects that do not allow you to choose balance, does it ever seem like you’re playing a game of Russian roulette? How many times can I press the reset button – and start again – before I am out of chances?

If so, I do wonder how you deal with it.

Food for thought:

“It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.” – Jane Fonda

 

 

 

Text less, write more

Text less, write more. I grew up without the Internet. I suppose I had an email address, but I was happy ignoring that bit for the most part. Enid Blyton, secret gardens, climbing cherry trees, building forts. The girl I was wouldn’t recognise the girl (ahem, woman?) I am today. I had actual penpals. I’m always scribbling, but am I sending people mail? Not as much as I would like to. I might start with postcards.

Also, when you’re a child, your friends and family look at you with hope, and say, “Oh, golly, you’re going to be such an interesting adult!” But when we’re adulting our lives away, we don’t say it to each other. Our parents and friends are older, and quieter. So bear with my escapism, I feel like I’m perpetually on the Faraway Tree in my imagination – you are on an adventure. You are on your way to magical places, yes you are.

Let’s just appreciate the simplicity, then, of these Kikki.K cards:

Remember. Magical places.

Of chasing neither, and choosing me.

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Perhaps you sometimes wonder if “all I’ve been doing is stalling because I am afraid of what would happen if I really did just focus on what I want”. I certainly feel that way. How do you move away from the guilt of wanting something else, something more but not knowing exactly how to get there?

Everywhere we look, people are hustling. On the other hand, people are telling you and I to slow down. There seems to be this tension between rushing around and taking life one moment at a time. Pendulums are the way of the world, so I choose to try to chase neither.

When people talk about mindfulness and meditation, maybe you, like me, can immediately sense, in your gut, “No, that does NOT apply to me. I have an imagination. I have tried breathing and just being, it is too much.”

The scariest thing is starting, even if it is starting small. So here’s what I’m going to try to do. Even if you and I choose to have only a  few minutes to listen to ourselves,  let’s do that. 

Maybe you’re a crafter, like me. If your hands help you centre yourself, it could be taking the time to tidy your desk. Put on one song, just one. And tidy for the duration of the song. Or write out three sentences. Or give yourself a hand massage. I’ve heard people do this in the mornings, timing themselves to get out the door by the time their playlist is done.

Maybe this can help you and I not get too caught up in the world. I find I can get emotional if I give myself time, especially when I’m overwhelmed. That’s usually a cue for me to take a walk, to drink a whole glass of water, and to get away from the centre of the bustle. Resets are important. Never think you don’t deserve one, okay? 

Maybe you want to explore being more centred in a realistic way, not ways that need you to get away from your life. I found that this post helped me imagine these actual little things. It helped to begin to think about taking my first step towards being okay with where I am right now. Once you’re there, you might find that you can look towards what you want to build – without feeling like you’re being pulled back by yourself. Hence what I said up there, “It can take years to learn to get out of your own way.”

The image up top is a desktop wallpaper for you. I love exploring Unsplash for these pictures, which make me feel free and like life is full.

If you like, you can right click and download. Photograph by Teddy Kelley.

Kontrast, Lemons, Sendak!

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Contrast. Blue, teal, yellow, white. This shoot started out as me wanting to capture the gorgeous Kikki.K Kontrast 10-piece Inspiration Kit. Its simplicity calmed me, and I didn’t think I liked teal with dark blue until I spent a little time with these carefully thought-out cards.

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The Nutshell Library was said to be a childhood favourite of Princess Diana’s. Author Maurice Sendak is only one of the most celebrated children’s book authors and illustrators of modern times. You may be familiar with Where the Wild Things Are.

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But these are little books that fit into the palm of your hand. Pierre, Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice and One Was Johnny – all delightful and curious. I picked these up in The Strand, back in 2012, along with Shel Silverstein’s the Giving Tree. Have you read that?

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Did I think I would be using tiny books as a feature in my shots? No. Did I imagine that the lemons on my kitchen counter would play along, or the starfruit (carambola)? No. This just came together from an exhausted mind after work. Funny how that’s when you need to express your imagination the most.

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Kikki.K makes beautiful things, the kind of things that let you imagine where they’d fit into your life. It isn’t remote, it isn’t too complicated, it’s only sometimes too pretty to use… but I digress. I am excited to share this with you because I know how I feel when I step into a Kikki.K store – full of possibility and wonder. And I hope you get to feel that way, too.

My desk can fall in love, too.

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Deceptively pretty. Really very functional. MUKK’s Desktop Organiser that arrived carefully bubble wrapped stands as tall as my hand. Here are my thoughts.

MUKK is a Malaysian design initiative that produces thoughtful, minimalist wood items. Read more about the lifestyle brand and the two young ladies that started MUKK in Design Plus Good, Jeremy Tan’s excellent design online magazine.

The wood is light in colour and smooth in texture. The three compartments have lyrical proportions. Narrow-narrow-wide. 

The narrows fit my paper clips, washi, and page flags just nicely, then in the wider, I place my Post-Its.

The darker coloured wooden plugs house the russet plastic rope, which is sturdy – and can handle even the smaller amongst my wooden pegs.

I suppose I couldn’t refuse getting my buttons out, a mishmash I found in a Melbourne weekend market several years ago.

The legs of the desktop organiser can be removed so it can be packed flat, if I need. The parts fit snugly and so, I don’t need to worry about things coming loose. I may or may not glue things in, but I might need to take this overseas – so maybe only then.

And in case you’re interested in exploring how MUKK considers using the Desktop Organiser, this is a photo the girls, Vivian and Chia Yi, kindly agreed to share with me.

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I would very much like to order the egg crates pictured below, but these were not yet ready to ship. Hoping to get my hands on these soon.

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It’s wonderful to be excited about two young ladies making it in the design world. Invest in good pieces worth keeping for years. I think you’ll find that MUKK makes just those.

For prices, contact MUKK at define@mukk.co

 

These cookies, I’ll share.

 

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Premium handmade. This is how LC Bakery describes their cookies. Looking at the ingredient list, it might look like something you would be able to whip up in the kitchen if you had a spare hour or two – but when you taste it – you know it’s been handled with care. Take a second look at what’s in them, and you’re not quite sure how it’s been priced at RM19.00 for 240g. Eggless and with reduced sugar, the mouthfeel is still smooth, and the flavours have been carefully coaxed out. More-ish – and exactly what you want when you sit around and chat in your living room this festive season.

Their Raya 2016 offering: Dark Chocolate Cookies with a dark couverture chocolate centre, and Cranberry Orange Cookies speckled with bits of dried fruit.

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This one is buttery, yet light – perfect with a cup of earl grey tea if you like pairing citrus with citrus. Cranberry and orange may be a ‘classic pairing’ but I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. Just because people like dessert doesn’t mean they want to be bludgeoned with rich fudgy creamy everything.

LC Bakery has been careful not to leave the cranberries whole – the fruit’s been evenly distributed within each morsel – which the fussy chewer might appreciate (present company included). I wonder how these would fare as fingers/shortbread. I almost feel like they’re a little too small (the size of an old 50 sen coin) but upon reflection, I’m sort of grateful I can take my time with them. Inhaling the scent of the orange zest perks my mood up – and I admit that they’ve been my breakfast twice this past week.

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I’m a little strange about chocolate. I only really like it by itself. I don’t require it in my cake or biscuits – and seldom choose it over, say, butter cake/cookies. But the dark couverture chocolate centre had me wondering. Contrasted neatly by a crunchy exterior (owing perhaps to the icing sugar and cornstarch in the recipe), this is really quite a balanced mouthful. It isn’t too sweet, and when you bite in, there’s just enough chocolate richness to round it off. I’d have this with coffee – and I think chocolate lovers would find this a welcome respite for their palate as it is a gentle nudge rather than a punch. Really quite lovely.

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They come really beautifully packaged, with tape around the lid – but I’ve demolished these cookies. Don’t mind me!

For more information on these, you might check this post out.

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Thanks, loves.
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