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