Friday, October 7, 2011

Some Childhood Memories

Beautiful soaps by TokyoFactory
My favourites include: first row from left, Victorian Rose Bath Fizz Cake  (I often find it if I could eat it), a beautifully wrapped soap bar; second row, Sea Breeze Soap with Goat Milk Yogurt & Organic Coconut Water; third row, my soaps in their gorgeous packaging. 

Do you use soap bars, or do you use liquid soap? 

If you are like me, born in the 70's, you must have grown up using soap bars.

Not only did we use them to wash hands, body, face, hair, clothes (yeah), I was told that the fragrance could put off bugs who would feast on your clothes! It was somewhat a luxury to place a bar or two LUX inside our wardrobes to ward off insects and to leave some long lasting sweet smell on our clothes.

And during the 90's, when everything moved fast, or too fast, we needed something more convenient and gradually no more sighting of soap bars on the supermarket shelves. Instead, bottles after bottles of liquid soap, in their vibrant liquidly and jelly-like colours, lining up for people to buy.

Recently during one grocery shopping, a lady in front of me at the till was transferring her shopping from the basket to the counter table when I spotted the few bars of soap she was cradling like newborn in her arms.

Do people still use soap bars??

I don't even see them on the shelves!!!

What era is she in??

Are we shopping in the same supermarket??

Yes, I admit. I did make a big fuss about it, as if I had never seen soap bars in my life.

Back home, I remember I was researching for my new treasury list when I came across soaptician (nice name, huh) Ayu's wonderfully created soap bars. Not only do they all look like some art masterpieces, sometimes I just have to remind myself they are not food...albeit how delicious her soaps all appear to be.

After creating the list, I clicked the picture again and just went shopping. I so wanted to bag all the items but the shipping was hefty because of the weight of the soap. I still managed to pick a few. 

When they arrived a week later, I even went out to buy a soap container! 

I must tell you how gorgeously refreshing Sea Breeze smells! Every single piece is a work of art. I admire Ayu's creativity and her patience. All her products are photographed very beautifully too, and have I already mentioned the packaging? I did save all those intact stickers and put them in my diary! They are so nice as a display! I hardly wanted to use them!

And I found that I had washed my hands more frequently... ha ha ha. I felt like a child again, going back and forth and repeatedly doing something for its pleasure, not really for its function, or necessity.

Then I remembered. When I was a young child, my beloved grandma would come visit us frequently. My mother had four children in the span of five years and grandma probably thought she couldn't really handle it. She loved giving us baths and she loved washing my hair in the basin (since I was young and having flexible muscle, I did and was able to tilt my head backward for grandma to wash it). She was always using a bar of soap, singing in her Shaoxing dialect, "ta bee song, ta bee song", smiling, happily bathing her grandchildren one by one, and occasionally giving me a kiss on my cheeks.


As I write, I am trying to hold back tears.

Grandma is still here, at her very double golden age, approaching her 100th birthday in three more years.

Many times you think you cannot find something, whether you are shopping for a particular item, or shaking your handbag like mad searching for that damn car key which often goes missing. 

Perhaps because you are not looking?

I mean, really looking.

Just a week ago, I shopped again for some convenient liquid handwash in the same supermarket, when I noticed many bars of LUX soap were quietly sitting there on the shelves, just patiently waiting to be picked up. 

Many of our happy childhood memories are not lost, they are still there, shelved in that corner, possibly blocked by some recent happenings.

But if you look with your heart, you will always find them.

And when you find them, they will always bring a smile on your face.

Because, you are evidence that you were once very much loved, and you were once a simple and happy child.


My Etsy finds for "A bit of blue" led me to Ayu's Sea Breeze Soap

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Don't be discouraged

Copper Bezel pendant with chain by bluskys06
Available for purchase on Etsy

There are definitely moments (could be many), when we have to deal with rejection in life. 

Two nights ago, whilst having dinner, I shouldn't have but I suddenly found myself checking my inbox messages. I did it as if I knew something was waiting for me.

"OK, like I have predicted, I got rejected," I told my husband.

"What? Who?" of course he would ask.

"The shop I tried doing consignment with, they rejected my application," I said, handing the phone to my husband, but decided to read out loud these lines: "...your collection does not currently meet the criteria we are using to diversify and expand our current selection of designers."

"Idiot," my husband said.

When I sent out my application, I had a very strong feeling that I would be rejected. But  I told myself, no harm trying, they don't know me, I don't know them, there wouldn't be any embarrassment.

My elder daughter was busying with her network socialising, but I noticed my little one was suddenly nervous.

"Mommy...Can you tell me what happened? Who doesn't like your stuff?" she asked, worriedly.

"No, that's us adults talking, dear," my husband tried to ask her to concentrate on her dinner and finish it.

But I thought differently. I told her, very simply, a shop did not find interests in my work and they would not be selling my designs online.

I also thought it was a very good opportunity to let the young girls know when you grow up and work, you get expectations, you get appreciation, and you get rejection too. You must never think you are the best. 

I said everything very calmly, and I was a bit angry my elder one, a teenager, found that Facebook was so much more important than Mommy getting rejected. I tried to control my temper.

When I looked back at my plate of food, I could tell I had already lost my appetite. Regardless of how composed I looked. I seldom had leftover, but I allowed myself to waste the last mouthful of rice and two little pieces of curry porkchop. 

The rejection was not at all an embarrassment, but definitely a disappointment.

I was lying to everyone.

No, I didn't feel alright.

Who was I lying to? My temper finally erupted yesterday. I got mad at teeny tiny things at home. 

Every now and then I go back to my temple for meditation. 

One time the temple master told me, "Without the past, without the present. You have to be thankful to your past. Those experiences are what make you here today."

I always try to believe in his words. 

My husband and my younger one asked me to delete the email right away.

"No! I won't!" 

I wanted to keep it, the email serves as one of those teachers you have at school, those we call them "a living terror", without them, you won't progress. And when you don't progress, you will never excel. 

Ever since I started working on my own again, there's no one to teach or be my mentor. I need opinions (regardless objective or subjective) on my work. I need to know how I can do better, what mistakes I can avoid.

I only immediately deleted their junk mail and unsubscribed their service. I just can't believe they rejected me but readily put me on their mass marketing mailing list!? I won't buy anything from them! 

It did reply with a funny automatic message asking if this email from them had been forwarded to a friend who had accidentally clicked "unsubscribe". Funny, really, they did think of that!

I confirmed my unsubscription by clicking the button. 


Revenge taken.

How silly I would look back, perhaps next week, to laugh at myself.

Only two days, I am already feeling grateful. 

There are many happenings in life. Rejection is just one of them. Whether it is related to work or personal relationship, to be rejected is a way to learn to be accepted, in the future. 

At least this is what I think.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Upgrading your wardrobe

The long awaited gentle breeze has finally arrived, though accompanied by frequent yet not so annoying drizzles. 

This means, it's time to take out your fall clothing from the less visited part of your wardrobe, or the clothing bags underneath your bed.

Instead of giving up most of the still wearable items to charities or thrift shops, will you look at them again and see if they deserve a second chance, a second life?

You can for sure consider upgrading them and giving them a facelift. 

Last autumn, when shops were eager to decorate their windows with the new season's collection, I could not stop myself from longing for this gorgeous wool cardigan on display. It had chiffon rose laces all over the shoulders, one row in ecru and one row in black. The beautiful item was within reach as there was one just hanging on the rack near the shop entrance. However, when I touched the price tag and saw the not very affordable figure, at US$380, I disappointedly proclaimed that this little evil and darn piece of paper had thus permanently kept the cardigan and I apart.

I was spending like crazy for my wedding preparation and supposed I could spare somewhere and bag this sweet cardigan home? This was so once in a lifetime that I spent and no one would dare say anything about me, right?

No...I told myself, no.




Therefore...after coming back to my senses, every week when I passed by the shop window, I looked at it with my yearning eyes. I must have looked absolutely terrible, like a dog drooling for its biscuit.

As I made my usual visit to the local haberdashery shop, my sharp eyes spotted some familiar chiffon laces. They looked terribly similar to my dream cardigan, selling at around US$5 per yard. I bought 3 yards of ecru colour and another 3 of black. 

Then I went home and looked at my wardrobe and pulled out a charcoal ZARA cardigan with faux suede elbow patched sleeves. It costed just about 1/10 of the dream cardigan. I played with the lace trims and when I was happy with how they looked on my own cardigan, I pinned them in place and started trimming.

On and off, it took some 12 hours to finish it, to my surprise. I could not remember what took me so long to finish it. Probably because every layer was hand-stitched.

When it was done, I could not be more proud of myself. It looked as if it was the lost twin of the dream cardigan.

If you are clearing space for your new wardrobe, try and have some fun tonight by pulling out one item and see what good can you do about it. 

Feel free to comment below and let me know! If you need some advice, I am delighted to offer mine.

Have fun!

My cardigan - before and after

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Candice Veil - A Candid Experience

When I first opened my shop on Etsy, I did not quite imagine I would be doing bespoke services. All along I thought it would be much easier if a bride found something she liked and made a purchase, than to contact me and do something "her". Around 95% of the clients who purchased lived abroad. It made it immensely difficult to tailor make or custom make when there are oceans apart...let alone doing something that must fit like a glove.

The biggest challenge, however, was accepted because the bride was a local customer. There was no reasons to say "no" when I could commute so easily across the harbour! I spent quite a number of afternoons discussing with her and modelling on her to make sure her veil did fit like a glove and was exactly what she asked for! 

The bride had an eye on a 20's inspired hair accessory and asked if I could turn around and made a wedding veil out of it. One thing I never lie is that I am from a background without formal fashion or tailoring training! I never sew with a machine, everything I do is drawn on a mental paper by my mind, coloured by my eyes, and stitched and sewn by my hands.

To create something for a bride without letting her see a "draft" or a mock up, my customer was such a brave woman!

This total trust on me touched me to the bottom of my heart. Has anyone ever placed blind and binding trust and confidence on you, readily on the first time they meet you?

Candice, the beautiful bride, which now the wedding veil is named after from, had a very nice afternoon chat with me at a nice pub. When we looked at our watches, we were surprised that three hours had just gone by like that! We were like old friends catching up. As a self-proclaimed "rebellious teen", she passed me some tips on how to raise my pre-teen and teen and as a successful business owner herself, she gave me many words of comfort and wisdom on how and what I could do with my business. 

Perhaps we have met, but in a previous life. Or else I could not understand where our proximity stemmed from. 

The actual sewing did not start until a month later, when everything was crystal clear and Candice had bought her own lace and veil fabrics. 

Really, never in my life had I made a cloche before....I didn't know how to do it! But I didn't know why I knew how to do it! I just did. My younger daughter, who loaned me her head (and I paid her modelling fee!) as a real-life mannequin, sitting through hours of my stitching because Candice and she shared the same head size and shape, and who has also a thing about these online games, once told me that she just "read my past" and told me, "Mama, you were a man....a tailor, in the Renaissance period."

Such a crisp, terse and distinct conclusion of one of my past lives. 

Hm....I thought. No wonder. I could never explain why there was this endless love for laces, embroideries, beadings and pearls.  

I used to embellish t-shirts with rhinestones and pearls. When my husband saw it, he asked me where I took lessons. I never did. Not in this life-time. I just picked up the needles and materials and worked. 

The Candice Veil took more than 50 hours to complete...It was a hard time parting with it. But when I delivered to Candice and saw how her eyes glowed, all the finger-pricking, thigh-piercing (no kidding), they just totally worthed it. 

And to see the smile on the bride trying her wedding veil, definitely priceless. 

The making of the Candice Veil

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What dress

In preparation for my first official wedding headpiece and accessories collection with Chinoiserie Bridal, I took out my wedding dress from the suitcase and hung inside my bedroom for a photo shoot.

A few days afterwards, one afternoon after picking up my little one from school, we chatted, as usual, whilst driving home.

"Mama, Daddy asked what dress that was hanging inside your bedroom." She said.

I surely sounded dazed and confused, "What dress?"

"Mama, your wedding gown! Daddy couldn't recognise your wedding gown!" Beth said.


What has happened to his memory?

Did my husband think I was naked the whole time when we exchanged vow, wedding rings, toasted, gave speech, and even had our wedding pictures taken?

I remember I had only an hour's sleep the night before, rushing my veil, and other accessories for my evening gowns. Surely my memory was somewhat impaired because of lack of proper rest, not only the night before, but weeks and even months leading to the big day. But he didn't do anything that weakened his own memory.

To be honest, there was a secret rampage of anger inside my heart. 

That very night, when he came home from work, I followed him to the room and pointed to "the dress", and asked, "What dress is this, Mister?"

"That is your wedding gown of course!"

"I heard you only knew it, very recently." I replied. "So, what were you thinking??" I just had to ask.

"I hope you don't come home one day, point at me, and ask me "what woman" I am, thank you." I remarked. 

I did a very good job hiding the sketch, pictures and photos of my wedding gown for 8 months before our big day. I was waiting the whole time for him to be impressed, wowed, and said I was a genius.

I looked back at the pictures, to see why he could not realise my all.

Of all the pictures we took together, he was, all the time, really not looking at my gown.

He was busy looking very happy, very blessed, and most important of all, he looked very much loved and in love.

He is thus, forgiven.

This is the What Dress, aka my wedding gown, taking 4 months to research, 8 months from raw sketch to finish. And my husband did not remember me wearing all.
To order this exquisite Edwardian style wedding gown concepted by me and beautifully made by my teenage buddy, please contact Chinoiserie Bridal

Photo credits: Thomas Galleria and my own twin sister

Monday, June 13, 2011

Naming - Miss E's Wedding Headpiece

As much as I love creating new things, I also love naming these little wonders.

Naming something after someone is...such an honour, and so romantic. A few mansions here built by the local tycoons and millionaires (decades ago when millionaires were synonyms of billionaires, or even gazillionaires), were either named after their wives or mothers. So, afterall, people didn't really lose their sons once their big boys got married.

The headpiece I created for my own wedding was very much inspired by Grace Kelly's wedding lace cap. But to name it "Grace Kelly inspired Juliet cap style headband" was a little too descriptive in nature, but too necessary when I first started this business on Etsy.

I just needed to make sure I was hitting the right keywords otherwise who on earth knew who and what on earth "House of Sugar Darlings" was.

Even though I am still pretty unknown out there, I do think it's time to name the headpiece after a bride-to-be purchased it.

I was a little surprised, but mainly touched, that a beautiful lady purchased it right away (without giving me a "hard time"), showing her confidence in me. I had discussed with many people on many occasions how I should price this item. But it looked like we didn't really get an answer. And many times, I doubted myself. 

And more surprisingly, this beautiful lady has a name that starts with an "E" as well. Isn't it obvious enough now, that this headpiece should have a name that starts with an "E" too? To aptly name it, and to thank this customer for her support, trust and confidence in me, the headpiece finally has a name.

Thank you, thank you so much, Evelyn.

You have been an angel. 


Monday, April 4, 2011

Creating a signature

Two nights ago, I started taking out all the laces pieces I have and sewed them onto felts in different colours. Then I glued each finished piece to the back of all my headbands. 

My husband became curious and wondered why I seemed to be "wasting" something so beautiful when it should be shown on the outside rather than the inside. 

I asked if he has heard of the famous red-soled Louboutin heels. Of course he had not, but I still had to ask, and told him how people easily recognise which shoes are from Louboutin (for pirated versions, that is for customs officers and experts to tell) even from a fair distance. 

I have wanted something recognisable and have been thinking for quite some while how I should have it done. It was when I was driving home one morning, after taking my girls to school, that I thought of making good use of those exquisite laces left from doing my wedding veil. 

And I also remember this little incidence. About a decade ago, I purchased this beautiful wool sweater with an unbelievably beautiful lining in lace. It was very stunning because I never expected that someone would spend such an amount of time and thoughts on doing a lining that was not to be seen on the outside. It has, however and forever, changed my work ethics: there are details for others to see and appreciate, but there shall always be details for you yourself to see and remember. 

Alas, the birth of my signature.

 A little baby blue ribbon is sewn on the laced felting backing for all bridal items.

These laces are definitely not ironed on, they are sewn on the felt one 
stitch after another, sometimes taking hours to complete.

Since all eyes must be on the needle and the laces, 
I am sacrificing my TV time and my husband, after a few rounds of 
training, finally masters the skill of reading out the silent scenes 
when no conversations take place between the actors 
in movies I am interested but cannot afford time to 
watch, with my own eyes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Etsy Treasury List - A love story that takes 20 years to find its happy ending

This girl, now thinks back, believes she did love this boy at first sight.
But this boy who loved and still loves video games, never felt the same and he thought of her as his best friend only.
Then this boy fell in love, not with her but with another girl, and another girl, and never her.

Heartbroken, she went through the sadness and later on married and had two beautiful girls.

Fate played a joke with her when It took away her husband at a very young age.

Life went on but it was very sad and difficult. Years after the tragedy, she realised that the boy she once fancied, had often and always been by her side through thick or thin, and felt so grateful to have him as her confidant.

Having been best friends for 12 years, they shared many, many wonderful meals together.

Fate stepped in again.

One night, the boy decided that this time he didn't want her to be his best friend anymore.

He finally held her hand.
And loved her children as if his own princesses.

Eight years went by with love growing forever strong, he proposed to her one morning after getting permission from the children.
They finally wedded after knowing each other for 20 years, on a warm and sunlit December day.

So, everyone had thought from the very beginning that they had always been such a perfect pair.
What has taken so long?

The girl and the boy felt blessed that their love was based on years and years of friendship.
They did not love because they understood each other.
They loved because they talked to each other and never failed to share every moment together.

Now, they have only one wish: to be healthy, happy, and grow old together. (For the boy: to keep playing video games even when old, with his grandchildren.)

This year marks their 20th year on friendship, and the 8th year of still being very fond of each other.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Life is sew perfect

My father has been in the textile business for half a century and he cannot understand why someone would prefer everything handmade, scarce quantity, and such hardwork. He has on several occasions offered to take me to visit factories which can mass produce.

Have you ever stitched or sewn? There is this special sound when a needle, pulling its colourful thread, gets through any kind of fabrics. That is very soothing. It gives my restless mind many moments of peace and tranquility. 

Sewing mends the soul. And I am sew in love with it. 

Besides, when I have someone else to do for me, that leaves me abundance of time, right? Then, does that mean tons of housework, endless chores all by myself???


I prefer to sew, stitch and lace everything myself. And the best part of it, is to raise my voice to announce to my husband and two darlings: HANG THE LAUNDRY, you people! Can't you tell I am busy???  

When I work with my hands, life is just sew perfect!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Bag Story

In the course of your life, so far, have you counted how many things have just simply gone missing all these years?

In some superstitious families, they believe your lost things are the mischief done by the house spirits.

I do not know if there is ever any spirit in my house. But one thing for sure, on and off my stuff goes MIA. 

Just when I was packing to return home from London, I discovered my complimentary red computer sleeve disappeared in thin air. My cousins, my sisters, my father, my auntie, my daughters all helped in searching for the missing red pouch. I emptied my luggages more than twice. The vibrant red silky bag was just not seen anywhere.

I did not really have any special sentiment towards the bag, but I felt lost because I did not have anything like that at home to give my favourite netbook a temporary home. 

I thus went to grab a really cheap padded sleeve for my peony netbook and I could tell instantly she loathed it.

That was when I started making this one of a kind computer sleeve. Fully lined with laced felting. I also gave it more than a few inner pockets for the knickknacks (i.e. rubbish) I just love carrying around.

When my husband saw how I laced the numerous pockets, sacrificing HBO time with him, he finally asked me WHY did I need that many pockets? I said, I just love bags...whether they are real handbags or just "little bags" inside the handbag! I ALWAYS, ALWAYS BAG FOR MORE!

Wasn't I happy when I finished hand-sewing and hand-stitching everything, occasionally poking my poor fingers again? I was ecstatic!!!! 

To celebrate the hardwork, I slipped in my red netbook, took out again, just to pretend that I was in a conference with some other prominent people who jealously eyed on this pouch that is not to be seen anywhere. 

I switched on my computer. No respond. Oh, battery out again. I plugged in the cable. Now the deadly blue screen!!

OK. Either it was too overjoyed that it fainted, or it was too overused that it died.

I could not quite accept the fact that I spent three days doing this for her, and she just didn't appreciate and turned me a blind eye!

Just when this computer was not working, the red pouch scarily crept out from between my wool sweaters in the luggage!

How bizarre can it be??!!


This is life. 

And life is always full of unexpectedness. 


Laced felting computer sleeve/iPad case/envelop clutch available on Etsy soon.