Project: Framing my Bakings

I must have taken over 2000 photos over the course of 3 years when I started my own food and cooking blogs. At first it was photography of talented food bloggers that captured my attention and tempted me to try out my own Canon camera at any beautiful birthday cakes that I ordered for Hubby and kids, the pastries at Panera and spreads of desserts at Buffet tables. Somehow, there is always an urgency and rush when taking pictures outside the house and I could never get the right lighting nor angle of the best shot of the food in front of me! And I hate the idea of lugging a camera bag to restaurants and eateries taking photos on whatever I order and cannot help thinking the next table people annoyed by the clickings! And that was how I developed the idea and passion of making my own cakes, cookies and breads and spent my sweet time in my own kitchen under the best natural light to photograph them. Somehow, this urge to produce beautiful photography drove me to make very complicated layered cakes, macarons and all sorts of colorful and fanciful bakes!

Before this project, I never put my photographs in print. As with any Digital camera owner, I relish the convenience of it to snap and store any amount of photos and scrolling through them on my computer. Now that my attention has turned to house hunting and interior designs, I thought I might do something with these photographs and incorporate them into our eventual new house’s kitchen. As I write here, I have seen a house that I like and think that a wall frame of these photographs will bring in life to it. I might or might not end up with this particular house, but doing this project rejuvenated my interest in baking and photography again. And as I was doing it, I was amazed by own capabilities then to come out with so many different colors, designs and types of baked goods and to capture them all in time. Looking back, my baking passion then was immense and hopefully I can re-start this hobby of baking and photography soon.

 

I found this lovely stressed look and neutral colored frame from Marshalls for a discounted price of $20. I particularly like the idea of being able to insert 1 dozen of photos in there as I had too many to choose from my accumulated files. My next challenge was to choose a dozen of my best shots and it wasn’t easy as the colors must all co-ordinate when put together and showcase each cake or cookie character. I ended up with 16 prints so I can rotate and change the arrangements when I am tired of seeing the same thing for a while.

First, I tried out the arrangment of all the photos to get the right color combination. I put out all the photos randomly and picked 12. 

Final check before I inserted my choices into each of the 12 individual frames. Still, I changed my photo.. can you guess which one? :). At the meantime, this lovely frame will just have to sit around in the attic room till it moves in to the next house’s kitchen. Not sure when will that be but at least I have got one wall art ready!

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Enamelware Find

I was looking for an old Enamel Tiffin container when I was back in Malaysia last summer but couldn’t find any. Despite sending out my uncles and aunts to look out for me, they couldn’t believe how hard it was to find something considered as old fashioned and plentiful during their younger days. But I managed to locate and bought this small enamel cup, complete with its cover. To me, something that simple looks beautiful..plain white with a dark blue rim to accent the whole thing. And most of all, I found a pair and they are vintage, hidden in the cupboards of an old sundry shop.

In a developing country like Malaysia, no one goes for these vintage enamelware these days. Not even my own grandma nor mom! And the fact they are not produced anymore, having been swamped and overtaken by stainless steel and modern crockery, these type of enamel products are simply obsolete! Oh ya, most of these vintage things are now on Ebay and while I won’t fork out any $20 or more for a used bowl, I still keep a look out for it.

And to my delight, I found this small tray at my local thrift store last Sunday! I was ecstatic as the color and made was exactly the same as my cups! Finding something like that at $2.99 was such a great feeling. Whoever donated it to the Thrift store can be assured it will be treasured and loved by me! :). Don’t they look so good together? How will I use them in my future kitchen? No idea yet but definitely a showing piece somewhere! I am starting to love the Thrift stores now :).

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D.I.Y Project (1) Lamp Shade

Well… I am still here! Took a 10 days rest from house viewing and did this! This is really the effect of watching too much HGTV and DIY on tv. It is inspiring to see people do all this ripping, smashing and re-building everything, although I dare not pick up a hammer nor a drill yet!

And so I decided my lampshades need a facelift. Out I went to grab 1 yard of my chosen fabric and because of the old rusty brass look of my lamps, I figured a modern splash of random colors on a white background suits the dark lamps best.

I seeked inspiration from these videos and link.

And so I thought it was going to be easy! I totally forgotten on how difficult it will be to wrap an angled rectangular piece of cloth over a round spherical thing like the shade! After two tries, these are the steps to follow:

  • depending on the size of the lampshade, always buy an extra one-half yard of the upholstery material.
  • if lazy like me who didn’t measure and cut out the exact diameter/length from the material prior to wrapping, don’t alter nor cut the material . 
  • always start from the seam where the Original wrapping starts and stops.
  • work either the top OR the bottom shade first and Not both part at the same time.
  • Leave at least 2 to 3 inches extra for Top and Bottom seam folding.
  • I used Hot Glue Gun entirely because of its very strong bond and I used it to attach the material to the Top and Bottom rims of the shade and Not slathering the whole body of the lampshade. This will enable me to remove the material if mistake is made, which I did make!

 

 

 

 

 

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Stratton Ski Resort Vermont

Vermont is one of the loveliest place on earth. Neigboring the states of Maine and New Hampshire, it is a vast land of working farms made up of quaint little neat towns which makes driving along its country roads a pleasant and calming  experience. This was my fourth time going to Vermont for a short getaway and I feel so happy everytime I start seeing the road sign that says “Welcome to Vermont”! All the hustle and bustle seems to fade away, slowly easing into beautiful greenery, friendlier drivers and lesser vehicles, beautiful small country houses popping up everywhere and the ever tempting cheese shops waiting for visitors to go in and splurge on Vermont cheese.

This time we headed to Stratton, a ski resort area where winter sports enthusiasts gather and go wild in the snow covered slope of the Stratton mountain areas and the place where rich people spend their winter weekends in their big cabin houses. We were invited for a weekend with our cousin and thanks to her, my kids finally got to go learn skiing. Not that they don’t have the opportunity before this trip, but I was just too lazy to take them and being very uncomfortable with the cold, I simply delayed the idea till now. With a disappointing house viewing week, I needed a break from it all too while allowing my agent to conduct an open house of my own property over the weekend. So off we went not knowing what to expect.

 

Stratton as seen from the penthouse that we were occupying.

It was nearing 5pm and the slopes were closing. It didn’t snow but the slopes were beautifully covered white and it was great seeing people skiing down the slopes, fast and fury! From far, they looked like little twigs falling from the sky onto the snow and the kids simply looked adorable in their ski attires. My Kids had a great time learning to ski.

More from the Mountain slopes :

My cousin and her friends rented this Penthouse, strategically located across the Welcome centre and within walking distance to the shops and ski school. Needless to say, everything inside was luxurious with a private elevator to the upper floor that leads to the kitchen, dining, living and theater rooms. The lower floor housed 4 bedrooms with private bathrooms in each. Overall, the design and decor of the interior reflects the style of contemporary country with amazing high ceiling equipped with a large mantel and fireplace, custom built in bookcases and surrounding windows in the living room. The kitchen was contemporary through and through and I got to experience cooking in it :).  There were so many cabinets and drawers that I felt lost searching for pots or utensils! Perhaps these type of kitchen were really designed for show and casual entertaining and frankly, I will feel overwhelmed if I had to cook and clean it everyday! Here are some inspiring photos that I taken from this Penthouse:

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House Hunting Day 3

I am tired! Looking at houses is a very tiring task and I pity my son who has to tag along. So far, he only complains on the way to the show houses but his whinning turns to curiosity everytime we reach a house. Little boys are fascinated with Padlocks and little storage cupboards, my son is the same. So far he has managed to pinpoint some things that I might have missed out but too bad, he hasn’t said which of the 10 houses we saw so far is his favorite.

I had no idea of the style of this house, it listed as Colonial but certainly not what I was looking for on the inside! It looks pretty neat from the outside, probably the exterior is made up of vinyl siding that looks cleaner than the usual wood type and with a very nice red door. Agent K is just too patient with me, and at the time I entered this house, I seriously doubted that I will ever find the house! And I was pretty sure she knew it. The inside needed repairs and updating from the floor to the windows and being near to a flowing stream did raised the issue of dampness, especially near to the basement. Within 8 mins I was out of the property, the only thing that I saw here was that this property is actually situated in a cul-de-sac. Like they say, ‘you never know until you see the inside.’

This one was called split entry style, through a foyer area up to the main living spaces. The kitchen was stunning, updated with lovely light wood cabinets, pantry and a very generous working side island that also worked as a bar nook. Of all the kitchens, this one was my ideal one, modern and spacious. Light fixtures were all updated to modern pendants and I absolutely visualize myself working in this kitchen happily. A walkout to a very large deck was also very tempting which overlooks a mini stream running into a small pond. The bedrooms were also spacious and so far, the largest bathroom I have seen with laundry amenities behind the closets. I appreciate this type of feature that actually save space, afterall, who really enjoys doing laundry? Still standing on the main floor, I was seeing everything positive and had a good vibe for this place. “Show me something negative NOW before I jump on in!” said I to Agent K! Yes, I need to keep my impulsive urge in check, especially with a very nice kitchen like that! True enough, down we went to the basement for the extra bedroom, extra room and garage… a bit dark down there and cold. What did I see? An uneven flooring that slanted slightly, a very uninviting garage and a water tank system that treats private water. All my life I took it for granted that water came from the tap and somewhere but now that there are 2 options, being public water coming from the Town source And private water, pumped and drained from a well of water source underground of the house, I appreciate water even more! To live with a private water source sounds so much work which includes yearly testing, running extra tanks and weariness of the quality of water every time I turn on the tap. For that reason, I forgo this house and yes, I saw the most beautiful kitchen in this one but couldn’t have it!

The next house was a disappointment too! Don’t get me wrong, Agent K didn’t suggest this one to me but I wanted to see it and she nicely took me here and warned me beforehand! The driveway was awkward, having to make a sharp U-turn and unassumingly, a huge tree right in the way. This house was very old but from the listing pictures it looked spacious with hard wood floors and a big kitchen at the corner with potential of banquette table and bench eating. As it was unoccupied for some time, the interior felt cold and needless to say, everything else looked derelict. Sad though as the interior was a very good layout design. This house would have been a great project for Ty Pennington or Holmes on Homes as it was unique and has its old flair to it. And so we called it a day and moved on. Disappointing day I would say :(.

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House hunting Day 2

Will I see something pleasing today? After the Day 1 viewing, admittedly I was a bit dampened to see nothing that gives me something more positive than negative vibes but I insist that Day 2 will be better as I had 6 houses to go about and there must be at least 1 I can pinpoint and KIV till I work down the list of 15 to 20 houses on the recommended Listings. With Bento lunches all packed for three of us, my kids and I set out with agent K again for our quest of our next home.

Last minute email from Agent K that one of the owners was sick and not showing…bad sign? So, the list went down to 5 houses. This time, we really utilised 3 hours completely to view all the houses and I learned something new everyday.

The first one was a Cape style. I always love a wide stretching one floor plan with split levels to define the perimeters of all different rooms and sections of the house. And today, I finally seen something that has always appealed to me… seriously, this Cape was exactly the floor plan that I will really love living in! I never expected the living area is so Big, seriously, I can play hide and my kids can seek me and will never find me! After living in a boxy townhouse, I think it is time for me to live independently from my kids, far away tucked in one corner while they go about with their activities and noises at some other part of the house :). This Cape house is exactly the same age as me and although a bit grey from the outside, the overnight snow somehow brings out its charm. For once, I went into the house not bothered about the kitchen, but the overall plan of the house. Now, that really  is what I called “got Feel“! Despite being empty and cold without any occupants at the meantime, my kids were excited checking out every corners. In my mind, I can only think why is there no one living in here?

The kitchen had wallpaper and old cabinets but overall in good condition. Nothing new paint, appliances and hardware cannot do and if I would to re-do this kitchen, I will tear down the walls and cabinets to open up and join the dining room. There was another big window in the dining room and you can imagine how bright it can be with an open concept!  I have seen alot of beautiful bathrooms in magazines but always thought why people would want to splurge money to make a bathroom like they will ever stay there forever? But after seeing a beautiful master bedroom bathroom with a nice soaking bath tub, I understood why! Absolutely beautiful with natural lights beaming from every corner and that bathtub..sexy! Only the Master Bedroom and this Bath sits at the corner of the elevated 2nd floor of this house and the other 3 bedrooms with extra bathrooms were on the main floor with the rest of the living spaces.

And of course, this Cape continued to surprise me as we walked down the basement stairs, accessible from the Main floor. Recessed lighting and color scheme and all the moldings, done and exactly what I will go for! Most of all another access door to the backyard. Oh my, this house just kept going and my kids shouted from the other corner “hey Mom, we found another room here!” Why doesn’t anyone live in this amazing house? And so I opened that white door to the right of the ceiling light and there it was… I saw a Sump Pump. Only when I started looking for houses in this area, I learned about Sump Pump which are put in to check the water level during heavy rain or snow season. Once the water running through the grounds of a property reaches a level, the Sump Pump is automatically triggered to pump the water away from the house area to avoid flooding. There was nothing musty nor foul smelling in the basement and fair to say, the Sump Pump was put there as a precautionary step only and I can only imagine the Owner must have put in a lot of thought when he lived here. But of course, I still have another half in my life to share this property and I already know, it is not his type of house and no way he will do any DIY and I admit, the sump pump did shaken my confidence of going through this. Buying a house is not about See, Like and Take but See, Check, Check it Out Again, Think of all the Negative and Decide. This is exactly the house that I Like for the right price and layout but cannot have it for more sensible reasons. For that, we moved on.

The second House is also a Cape. This one was occupied and situated on a more busy street with a more updated exterior. I think grey is a very nice exterior color and from the outside, this house looked perfect with white and black window treatments. As I looked up to the roof, the chimney caught my attention and it looked pretty Overused..black top against the red bricks! Oh-oh… not a good sign..must be working hard to heat the house. The only thing I like about this house were the exterior colors and the entrance Mud room. Nothing else, and when I stood at a corner of the kitchen visualizing myself in there, I see nothing… in fact I cannot even put my Imaginary self there!! And the interior still looked very 80s with dark wood here and there which gives me a very claustrophobic feel, there and then I knew this was not the house. Moving on…

Next one is a Colonial. The type which typically sits in a Cul-de-Sac, with similar neighboring houses adorned differently in color and the type that says “you have to Really keep up with the Jones or Smiths”. There is simply no way to slack on the upkeep of the exterior of these houses and to own a house like this means alot of curb appeal to think about!

From the listing photos, my Hubby was not impressed by the color of this house but I was more open minded and having taken thousands of photos, I do understand you have to see the real thing to judge further. And so Hubby joined us at mid-day to view this one and sure enough, everything he thought of negatively was wiped off his mind, at the meantime at least.. till we decide to get it and let the house inspection goes and dig deeper!

I love the Entrance door already. White and extra natural light piercing through the side panel windows. Very bright and inviting entry to the house itself with a bronze yellow wall paint and moldings everywhere. As with most colonials, walk straight in will be the kitchen. Indeed this is the kitchen size I wanted but now with an island in front of me, I felt the kitchen is cramp and an L shape kitchen with a working countertop space/bar stool area might work better for me, as I can be clumsy at times when I start rolling baking and in a hurry!  It might be the colors of the cabinets that gives me this inhibit feeling or the misplacement of that pendant light above the sink, I just felt the energy of this kitchen is not flowing right. But like I said, perhaps a little update in terms of colors, hardwares and lighting will do the trick. This kitchen is literally the heart of the house. Tucked exactly in the middle and being the meeting section to all the house’s entrance and exit points,  I anticipate alot of action going in or through this area. I always wanted a kitchen situated at a corner, so the rest of the family don’t bother me when I am in my therapeutic session of cooking and baking, but this kitchen is exactly the opposite. Can I adapt to this floor plan? I don’t know at the moment. The family room was the most spacious room on the main floor, with cathedral ceilings but definitely not the wall color that I will keep. I like the Beams here and probably a beige or white wall color can bring out the brightness of the room and adapt to our more contemporary taste. Maybe 6 years ago, I was ignorant of style and any designs or colors of a house that doesn’t please my eyes can deter my decision but now I am very open minded and in fact can visualize better in my mind. Oh ya… I have to note this, in case someone is reading and wanting to learn to on how and what to ask for :). I found out that there is a thing called central Vacumn system, it works exactly like a central heating system, with a vacumn tank located in the basement and openings like a vent to every room of the house and you just have to plug in a hose to the vent and vacumn up a room. That will save you lugging and carrying the much hated vacumn cleaner to every floor of the house. And also, the funniest regulation I have heard about the selling of houses in this particular area I am looking at…. the house must be sold with a cooking stove! Isn’t that funny? Everyone knows most American households use the Microwave, Oven and telephone for take-outs more than cooking on a stove! Just saying… :). The rest of the house is nothing dramatic to talk about… unless and until I move in of course! :). Again, keeping this one on the list.

House number 4 next. Kids are still upbeat after 2 hours and Hubby drove off after just viewing House No.3!. Seriously, I think I work too hard in this house hunting compared to my spouse, and I hope I don’t lose steam or else I might make irrational choices and just pinpoint to any house and call it a day.

This one is an updated Ranch cum Colonial. I find this one very charming with a very neat delineated backyard, complete with a horse barn and plenty of space to run around and have summer parties. Again, the exterior is a nice blueish gray with a Crimson Red door leading to the Mud room and then the rest of the house floors. Built in the 1950s but completely updated in and out, the house feels and smells very new and this shows that the current Owner does care about upkeeping of the house. The only thing I don’t really like about the interior of this house is the wainscoting in one of its rooms, other than that a galley kitchen that gave an ‘Unsure’ feel in me but it was bright. Very spacious bedrooms and updated bathrooms upstairs but unfortunately, basement was unfurnished and the property runs on well water. Some frustration here when you see everything is nice and suddenly something you think will be an issue comes up! Keeping this one in my list too as it is really a very neat place to have, not too big to handle and not too small to cringe about it.

The last house of the day. Ah…I was sure Agent K and my kids were ready to call it a day! This one was a Ranch style and because of its location near a power grid station, it was already a No before I stepped in. In listings photos, not everything is mentioned and this is why I always have to see everything with my eyes. The exterior of the house is empty and there was not much curb appeal and the interior was modeled like an apartment or condo townhouse. The feeling I had was that the rooms in this house were like misplaced, kitchen and dining were upstairs while the family room, laundry and office were downstairs. My kids felt the same and that sums it all, out of the list.

Phew… that was it, 5 houses in 3 hours and plenty seen and still learning. Able to at least see 2 out of the group and to KIV them. I am tired and will be back hunting again next week. Good week to all!

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Baba Nyonya Porcelain Designs

Call it the Little Nyonya drama effect or whatever, I am totally in love with the Peranakan porcelain designs. I like this particular lure of porcelain for the reason it is a very bold expression of unconventional colors mixed with Asian inspired motifs, making a decorative ornament or household item stands out majestically and in a way, show off character! The colors of very bright pink, light jade green, mustard yellow or pale blue serves as the base overall color of teapots, tea cups, bowls, plates, vases and household use items. And motifs of huge peonies, birds and animals complete the whole arty look of the item. Compared to the more subtle white and blue hue with delicate designs of China’s porcelain which complements dark elm furniture rather than overtaking the stage in any arrangement of a room, the Peranakan designs seems to be screaming for attention and the bolder, the better. Currently I don’t own anything of this sort but if I do have the opportunity to visit Malacca or Singapore, I will definitely go hunt for something. If I cannot afford the big, I will get the small kind :).

At the meantime, I can only gawk at this coffee table book that I bought earlier this year. Titled Peranakan Chinese Porcelain, it is really generous with beautiful pictures of all sorts of housewares used in the height of the Peranakan era in the 2 places I mention. My late father was a collector of beautiful Chinese ornamental bowls, plates and scrolls and I realized that as I get older, I tend to appreciate what he saw in these antiques rather than considering them Old stuffs that are liked only by old people. It is strange on how one’s taste in colors and designs kind of changes over the decades and my own grandmother, alive and well was surprised to see me scouring everywhere for the enamel Tiffin containers used widely in the 1950s to 1970s to pack home cooked food by office and blue collar workers. Sadly, I couldn’t find even one in the market but I believe there are some more of the old-fashioned stuffs somewhere. I just have to look harder :).

Thank you to my dear friend Ling who sent me these Peranakan inspired magnets! They are so cute and I absolutely adore the Tiffin container! Gosh… I would go crazy if I ever see a real one and probably spend irrationally to get it! Anyone out there has an “old-fashioned” taste like me? I want to know!

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