Are you ready for a Challenge?!

So, Meimei, with all your woolly masses and fancy new knitting needles, are you ready for a Challenge?


Yes, I am asking you for a challenge. (Picture Credit:

Seriously though, since The Boobook has banned you from adding more fancy wool from Etsy to your stash, I’m going to challenge you to completing at least THREE projects by the end of 2016.

The projects have to include one or more of the following elements – feel free to combine them in whatever manner you wish:

  • A gift for the Aged P that she will actually use on more than one occasion
  • An Infinity Scarf
  • A fancy beret that is not a pathetic beanie hat.
  • A project showcasing  a completely new technique
  • A project using a little-used technique that you tend to avoid because it requires some practice

P.S. I don’t suppose your new knitting needles will also include PVC pipes for making cuddly blankets using giant wool.

P.P.S. Also, if you use this knitting machine, you don’t need to do three projects.

Last Minute CNY Shopping at Sea Apple


Little E wearing a modern cheongsam from Sea Apple in ‘Sophie’

If you’re still looking for something cute and modern for your little living doll this Chinese New Year, definitely check out Sea Apple, the latest online boutique for childrenswear!

Su Mei, the founder and designer behind Sea Apple, got in contact with me not long ago and was kind enough to send Little E one of the gorgeous cheongsams from her first Chinese New Year collection! Thanks Su Mei!

I am really impressed by Su Mei’s eye for detail and subtlety, and the fact that this first collection represents the courage and fortitude it took for her to pursue her dream. Su Mei tells me that whilst she was still working as a civil servant, she actively took courses in fashion construction and design in Singapore and London, and took time off to walk the fabric markets all over the world.

Her first collection is a mixture of beautiful prints and lush fabrics, showcasing Su Mei’s simple, modern aesthetic. I haven’t seen any modern cheongsam designs for little girls on the market at the moment, so these are really special! Each dress is not only fun and chic, but is clearly designed with practical comfort in mind – something that I think is missing from many ‘little cheongsam’ designs on the market.

The dress that I picked for Little E is made from a sweet cotton lawn, light and airy, with a lovely 1930s vintage Liberty Art print of blooming hydrangeas. The short mandarin collar and the box pleat detail make the dress really comfortable to wear and move about in – and it looks so pretty! I’m so excited for Little E to be wearing a Liberty print dress – it just brings back memories of browsing in the Liberty of London store during my University days.

I am really looking forward to when Su Mei releases her summer collection which is going to include something for the boys and the little babies too. I’m going to be looking out for something special for J and Thumper!

See more of Sea Apple’s CNY collection here.

P.S. If you’re thinking of nabbing one of the Sea Apple dresses for CNY, here’s a launch special just for Owls Well Readers! Just enter the code Owls10 at checkout to get SGD$10 off your order! (Code is valid until 7th Feb 2016) 

How NOT to Decorate Your Bedroom

Sorry Debs, I didn’t end up going to see Quidam this weekend, as the Boobook and I already had other plans.

We ended up at Pillow Talk, instead, buying sheets for the new Queen bed that we have.  Pillow Talk is by the way an absolutely fantastic place to buy new bedding.  Their clearance aisle is always good for a bargain.  I don’t mind buying shop-soiled and old bedding as the “soiling” is never biological and usually washes out easily.

Also, they have everything, from ugly ornaments and useless bric-a-brac, to duvets and towels, to beautiful bedspreads.

A Becky Lee:  Boobook!  Look at this!  It’s 500 thread count and it’s going for $20.  It’s soooo cheap!

The Boobook: Yes, but it’s also a Playboy bedspread.

A Becky Lee: But it’s cheap and it’ll feel fantastic.

The Boobook:  It’s also a hideous shade of neon Fuchsia.

A Becky Lee: But we sleep with our eyes closed.  We won’t actually have to look at it.

The Boobook:  We are also not a teenage boy.

A Becky Lee:  Point

He didn’t let me buy the bedspread.

Under the Big Top

We were fortunate to catch the Cirque du Soleil’s Totem with some friends last year when they were in Singapore. It was such a magical time for the whole family, and the kids really had a wonderful time.


The atmosphere there is absolutely electric, from the minute you see the blue and yellow striped big top in the distance. Approaching the big top, we were greeted by the warm buttery scent of fresh popcorn and a long snaking queue of excited circus-goers – families young and old, mooning couples, groups of chattering teenagers – it seemed like all the world was there.

The show itself really exceeded all expectations. J and Little E were absolutely entranced, and even tiny little Thumper gazed with big eyes at the never-ending movement of the sparkling and glowing characters in the ring, listening to the endless swell and fall of the vibrant music washing over us like waves on the beach. There were groups of acrobats bouncing off flexible wooden boards, their luminous costumes tumbling through the air like starry constellations. There were cheeky clowns flirting with the audience and teasing each other with the most hilarious and ridiculous pranks. There was a pair of contortionists who bent and twisted over and under each other until you couldn’t tell when one person stopped and the other began. There was a trio of aerial dancers, light as air, flying over the heads of the audience with streams of ribbons fluttering behind them.

The Barn Owl was impressed by the attention to detail of the entire production, from the intricacy and inventiveness costumes, to the complexity of the transforming set, to the dedication of the stagehands who even moved in time with the music. Everywhere you looked, every single object, every single person was a part of the show.

We had a truly amazing time at the Cirque Du Soleil – and I hope they will return to our little city soon and bring more of that magic with them.

P.S. Meimei, I just found out that Cirque du Soleil is in Newcastle, Australia this weekend with their touring show, Quidam! If you can make it, you should totally go. They’ll only be in town until 24th Jan 2016, and I have no idea if they’ll extend their run.


Neverending Balls of Yarn

When I started packing up to move into the new house, I realised that I had a lot of yarn.


Yes sir, Yes sir, Three bags full (and only 1/3 of the total stash)

Generally, when I start a new knitting project, I tend to buy exactly the amount of yarn I need to complete the project and no more.  So, I don’t usually have much scrap wool.  But that being said, I’ve had more than a few abandoned projects.  Plus, I’ve also had a lot of wool donated to me by friends, usually with conversations that go something like this:

Friend:  Hey, I’ve got this load of wool that I saw going for cheap and I had to have it, but now I don’t have a use for it.  Do you want it?

A Becky Lee: Uhm, I have a lot of wool already…

Friend:  Oh don’t worry, you don’t have to pay for it.  I’ll give it to you~!

A Becky Lee:  *Ends up with bagfuls of wool* Oh… thanks~!

Since I don’t like to throw anything away, I’ve kept all this wool.  But, I haven’t really used any of it.  So now, I’ve got boxes of yarn.  The pictures in this post don’t even cover the entirety of my yarn collection.  Anyway, The Boobook has issued me an ultimatum – no new yarn until the old yarn is at least 75% used up.

To help me with this, I saved up my Christmas gift money and purchased a Box Of Joy from my favourite knitting shop, Morris and Sons!  Just look at it!



Since I specialise in seamless knitting, this little box of interchangeable needles is just perfect for me.  I’ve always been a big fan of Knit Pro’s knitting needles ever since I started knitting with their birchwood Symfonie needles.  I’ve been slowly making the move to change from cheap plastic needles to these gorgeous Karbonz needles, which (for me at least) are the best at balancing speed and grip.  Plus, they’re really lightweight, which makes me squee inside~!


It’s got one of every possible needle from 3 mm all the way up to 8 mm AND it’s got four types of cables AND it’s got cable keys and a shawl pin!  I’m in knitting heaven~!


I’m absolutely adamant that I’m going to get this done.  I’m going to use up all my old wool.  Then, and only then, will I treat myself to fancy new wool from Etsy!

Grief, Loss and Small Children (Part 3): Getting over loss and life changes

It’s easy to think that the feelings of grief and loss are only associated with major life events such as death. However, for small children, their circumstances can change very quickly, year upon year, as they themselves grow up and change or the world changes around them. It is unsurprising that childhood grief and feelings of loss can include such things such as parental separation, changes in schools or classes, moving house, even failing friendships.

Growth is always loss. Every time you’re gonna grow, you’re going to lose something – James Hillman, We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy – And the World’s Getting Worse

Last year, as J started in a new school, he missed his old classmates dreadfully, especially his best friend. After three months in his new school, his best friend invited him to a party. J looked forward to going, but when he arrived there, he found that his best friend had changed so much that they were as good as strangers to each other. This realisation hurt J deeply.

How horrible it is that people have to grow up – and marry – and change! -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

For months after that, he would often talk about his best friend and his old school, fervently wishing to be able to forget everything. I was constantly reminding him that those memories were precious, and that old friends often pop back into our lives in surprising ways.

Nothing is ever really lost to us, as long as we remember it – L.M.Montgomery, The Story Girl

One of the easiest ways to gently help children through these difficult times, is through books. As you can tell from the book quotes above (and in my previous post), authors can ease our troubles with a well-turned phrase, and sometimes, a good book can help illustrate those concepts that are difficult to explain.

Here are a few books that I highly recommend for those with children who are going through or preparing to go through a difficult time. (To find out more about each book and where to buy them, just click on the book covers.)

1.Wibbly Pig’s Silly Big Bear by Mick Inkpen

This is a very sweet story, which I feel focuses on love and friendship, and validates the feelings of sadness and loss that children have when someone they love has gone away.

In this book, Wibbly Pig is both frustrated and amused by the shortcomings of his Silly Big Bear, whilst at the same time being amazed by Silly Big Bear’s unique qualities. It is these many little quirks that make Silly Big Bear so beloved, that he is dearly missed when he is gone. I love the simple, uncluttered illustrations, as well as the gentle pacing of this story. A great one for the tiniest ones in the family.

2.Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies

In this lavishly and vibrantly illustrated book, a young boy, Syd, accompanies his Grandad on an epic adventure, to a beautiful island. When Grandad decides to stay on the island, Syd must journey home alone and it is not an easy trip.

I feel that this book very thoughtfully and carefully deals with the subject of the loss of a grandparent as well as the concept of heaven. The end of the book is particularly comforting, showing that no matter how far away a loved one may seem, they still remain close to us in our hearts and minds. The book does not at all mention death or dying, so it has a very subtle touch and is suitable for very sensitive young children.

3.The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

This book is particularly good for early readers and primary school aged kids and is about the transforming power of love, as well as the pain of growing up and change. The Velveteen Rabbit’s love and loyalty leads both to his separation from the person that he loves as well as the achievement of his life’s dream.

This is good book that perfectly captures the bittersweet feelings when reflecting upon a lost friendship, whilst illustrating how one must let go of the darlings of the past in order to step into an exciting new stage of life.

4.Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is so scared of dying and is so cautious that he never leaves his tree – until one day, he has an accident that leads him to an amazing discovery!

This is a hilarious book with super-funny illustrations that encourages children to embrace the unknown and step out of their comfort zone in order to discover new and amazing things about themselves and the world around them.

A very good one for the anxious or nervous child who is fearful of change (or of starting a new phase in life).

5. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Here’s one for primary school-going kids or for confident readers! It is also a great book for reading aloud! This is one of the most lovely books about loyalty and friendship, and it deals very sensitively with loss, sadness and grief. The book also realistically touches on about how relationships change as people change and grow up. It’s hard not to feel moved when reading about the unlikely relationship between a pig and a spider.

The book also mentions some of the positive, active things that one can do in order to honour someone who has died, and I think it is a good starting point for opening up conversations with older children who are grieving.

If you have a good book you would like to share, or if you would like more book recommendations for other age groups, leave a comment below.

Relative Sanity (An Out of Context Conversation)

Debs G: So, is The Boobook just not up on his Bible knowledge or something?

A Becky Lee: No, he has read Revelations.

Debs G:  Then why was he so confused when we were talking the other day?

A Becky Lee:  Because he couldn’t tell if you were being serious about the whole “iPhones are the mark of the Beast” thing that you were blathering on about.

Debs G:  But I was joking! How could he not know I was joking?!

A Becky Lee: Because The Boobook used to work in retail and every day, there would be people who would visit his shop who honestly believed that iPhones are a sinister government plot to read minds, or are unholy, or something.  These people can be quite violent.  Believe me, I had people like that visit the shop where I worked too.  Don’t you remember the woman who threw the PSP at my head?  So, yeah, he wasn’t sure if you were joking or not.

Debs G:  Well, you need to brief him on our family so that he knows how to deal with our silly discussions.

A Becky Lee:  OK.  I’ll tell The Boobook about this so that the next time we get into this sort of conversation, he’ll know that you’re just being a madwoman.

Grief, Loss and Small Children (Part 2): Discussing Death

A note about today’s post: When our grandfather (the Aged P’s dad) died, I wanted to write a post about how we talked about death with J and Little E, and helped them process their grief. However, as my own personal grief felt too fresh, I was not able to properly organise my thoughts on the subject, so this post has actually been percolating in my mind for over a year now.


For the Barn Owl and myself, death is something that we encounter quite often in our line of work as doctors, and sometimes helping patients and their families to prepare themselves for the inevitable is part of the job description. However, managing the impact of a death on an individual and helping them through the process of grief and loss is something entirely new to me.

In our family, we have never shied away from the topic of death. This is because the Barn Owl and I feel that death is not something that should be feared, but should be viewed as a natural part of life. Since J and Little E were very small, we have had no qualms in taking them with us when we are paying our respects at a funeral (which, in Singapore, is generally an open casket arrangement) or when visiting the graveyard or columbarium.

During these visits, we always talked to J and Little E about what happens when people die and it is amazing how much a child can understand.

I remember the first conversation that I had with J on the subject. J was just a little over 2 years old at the time and we were at the funeral of his Godpa’s late grandmother, who was a kindly and well-loved lady. During the funeral, family members recounted stories and memories, and showed photographs of family gatherings where the lady was often smiling and laughing. At the end of the service, I brought J to the casket and he peered down at her face and said to me, frowning, “Auntie there. Not same. Gone.”

“Yes,” I replied, “This is just her body. Her body is dead and she has left it behind. She is not here anymore.”

“Yes,” said J, nodding, “Gone.”

“To die will be an awfully big adventure” –  J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

When our grandfather (the Aged P’s dad) passed away, J and Little E were quite overwhelmed by the funeral wake and services, and we had many talks with them about death and dying during that time, and in the months afterwards.

Some of the questions they had were quite difficult to answer, but we always answered them truthfully, acknowledging their feelings and thoughts about the subject and sharing with them our feelings too. Quite often, we tried to gauge their feelings by the sort of question that they asked, and we would try to address their anxieties whilst channeling their thoughts in a different direction.

Like I said in my previous post, kids adjust to news in a different manner that what we might expect, and they take a lot longer to process information. This meant that J and Little E would repeatedly ask the same questions over the course of several months. As they adjusted to the death of their great-grandfather, the frequency of these questions decreased.

Here are some of the difficult questions that they asked and how we answered them.

What is death? 

Death is when life ends. The body doesn’t work anymore. The body cannot move, or eat, or sleep, or think or feel. It is not alive. It is dead.

Will I die? Will you die? Will (insert name here) die?

Yes, one day, you will die. One day, I will die. I don’t think that we will die for a long time. Everything that is alive in the world will die one day. This is why being alive is important. We should be thankful for being alive, and enjoy the time that we have with each other. This time that we have to be alive is a precious thing, a treasure. Now is the time that we have do things to make our lives mean something, something good, something that matters. Now is the time we have to make good memories.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Will I get sick and die, just like Great-grandpa? When will I die?

When you get sick, it does not always mean that you will die. A cough, cold or flu may make you feel really awful, but actually, you are only a little bit ill, just for a short while, then you will get better. Great-grandpa was very seriously unwell for a very long time. It is not the same as when you or I get sick.

Sometimes, if you are very old and unwell, like Great-grandpa, you will know that you are dying. An old person’s body doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to. Everything slows down. It takes longer to get well when you are sick, and sometimes parts of your body will not work the way it should and you have to take medicine to make it work.

Nobody knows exactly when they will die. I hope that you and I will not die for a long time. When we are alive, we try not to think about when we will die, or how we will die. We try to think about what we can do with our life now, what we can do today. If we spend all out time thinking and worrying about dying, then we will be wasting all the time that we have, all the time that we have to enjoy being alive.

I know you feel worried about dying. It is okay to be a little bit worried and scared about dying. Sometimes I feel scared and worried about it too, but then I remember that I have other things to think about which are more important, much more important to me than worrying about dying. If you keep worrying about dying, you will not be able to enjoy being alive. That would be a very sad thing, not being about to enjoy being alive.

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Is dying a very bad thing? Why are people sad when somebody dies?

Dying is not a bad thing, it is a sad thing. It is sad for us, because we feel left behind and we miss the person who has died, because we cannot see them alive anymore or make any new memories of them. You have many memories of Great-grandpa; some are happy and some are sad, but they are all important because you will not be able to make new memories with Great-grandpa now that he has died.

I feel sad that Great-grandpa has died because he was important to me and I miss him, but remembering his life and talking about him makes me feel a little better. When you feel sad about Great-grandpa, you can always talk to us about it and we can remember him together.

Where is Great-grandpa now?

Great-grandpa’s body is here. But that is just his body. His soul, his spirit, his personality, everything that was Great-grandpa, everything important about him, everything that really matters – all his thoughts, all his memories, the part of him that could think and feel – that is not here. It is gone.

I believe that the part of Great-Grandpa that made him who he was, that part of him has gone to heaven, and the body that you can see in the coffin, is just an empty shell that he left behind.

Where is heaven? Can I go to heaven now?

No. It is not possible to get to heaven. You have to wait until after you die. But you have too many things to do first before you die, you have your whole life to live. You have to patient and wait your turn.

“It’s necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.” ― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

What are we going to do with Greatgrandpa’s body? What is going to happen to it?

After the funeral is over, we will take Greatgrandpa’s body and we will cremate it. This means that we will burn the body. We will put his ashes into a jar and the jar will be kept in a place called a columbarium. This will be Great-Grandpa’s grave. It is where we will go to remember Great Grandpa. This is what Greatgrandpa wanted us to do.

Not everyone who dies gets cremated. Some people prefer their bodies to be buried in the ground instead. Graveyards are places where people are buried.

Graves and graveyards are quiet places. They are good places for sitting and thinking quietly about the people who have died and remembering what they were like. Sometimes, people will visit graves and spend time tidying it up and decorating it with flowers. They do this because they want to show respect and love for the person that has died, and also so that other people who are walking by will stop and look at the grave and the gravestone. They will read the name on the gravestone and think to themselves, “This person must have been very special to someone when they were alive.”  If you like, we can visit Great-grandpa’s grave together and make sure that it is looking nice.

“But Mother was cremated. This means that she was put into a coffin and burned and ground up and turned into ash and smoke. I do not know what happens to the ash and I couldn’t ask at the crematorium because I didn’t go to the funeral. But the smoke goes out of the chimney and into the air and sometimes I look up and I think that there are molecules of Mother up there, or in clouds over Africa or the Antarctic, or coming down as rain in the rain forests in Brazil, or snow somewhere.” ― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Again, as with kids, their response and behaviour towards death can be unpredictable. It will probably be necessary to brief them on what is expected of them during the funeral or funeral wake. They don’t have to cry or look sad, but they do have to be mindful and respectful of other people who are in mourning.

Which is why on the way to the cremation service, I overheard J and Little E having the following conversation:

J: Hurry up or we’ll be late!

Little E: I’m hurrying, I’m hurrying!

J: If we’re late we’ll miss everything!

Little E: Okay, okay!

J: I don’t want to be late for the demonstration!

Broken Arms and Monkey Bites (A New Years in the A&E)

Hey Debs, I figured I’d update you on the whole hand situation from New Year’s Day.

I know that before we went to the hospital, you warned me about going to the Accident and Emergency department on New Year’s.

“People are stupid on New Year’s Day,” you said, “The emergency room will be packed.  You won’t get a good quality of care.”

But I had to break my hand on New Years Eve, so there we are.  The emergency department wasn’t too busy, but I still ended up with a jury-rigged hand brace to prevent my thumb from moving too much.


She’ll be right, mate!

It was about lunchtime when we returned home from the hospital.

As I couldn’t use my hand, I asked The Boobook to help me prepare lunch.  Lo and behold, if he didn’t end up slicing a good 2mm off his fingertip with the mandolin slicer.


So we ended up in the hospital again, this time for 4 hours.  The waiting room was still pretty empty, so we were ushered right through.

The Boobook had his hand seen to pretty quickly, but the hospital took a while longer readjusting my brace, so we were stuck there for some time.  While we were in the hospital, however, I got to see some really interesting stuff as people are indeed quite stupid on New Years!

So, here are my observations from within the A&E.

Item 1:  Man with Monkey Bite being treated with a mixture of adrenalin and antibiotics.

But A Becky Lee, I hear you ask, how on earth did this man find a monkey to bite him?  Monkeys are not indigenous to Australia and there certainly aren’t many wild monkeys about.  To which I say, the determined fool can get anything done.

From what I could understand of the man’s story (and he wasn’t being particularly candid about this), a circus was in town and he had gone to visit.  The monkey was not paying any attention to him, so he offered it a banana to entice it to come closer.  Being mindful of the common rule “don’t feed the animals”, he withdrew the banana from the confines of the monkey cage once the animal had come closer.  The monkey, taking offense at the sudden withdrawal of the banana, then bit him.

He had to get a rabies shot, which I (thankfully) did not see.

Item 2:  Man with large cut on arm

This man broke a large mirror and threw away the shards.  He then put more garbage into his garbage bin and used his hands to further compact the trash when he couldn’t close the garbage bin lid.

I believe he was treated to a tetanus shot and a large bandage.

Item 3:  Very stupid Boobook with missing fingertip

FullSizeRender (1)

If blood is spurting out, cover with a clean kitchen towel, elevate the arm and apply steady pressure to encourage clotting.

The Boobook decided that the guard on the mandolin slicer was too fancy for the likes of him and decided to slice cucumbers without it.  I expect that he has since learned his lesson.

The doctors cleaned it up with saline then bandaged it nice and tight.

Item 4:  Child with broken arm

From what I’ve been given to understand, this is a fairly common sight in the A&E.  What made this particularly unique was her family’s first aid attempt, which actually wasn’t a bad idea.  They put her arm into one of those cardboard poster tubes and tied it to her waist so that she didn’t wave it around.

She got a Despicable Me Minions plaster cast.  She was really proud of it and showed it off to everyone (myself included).

Item 5:  Unknown Wailing Child

This child did NOT want to be at the doctors.  From the moment I stepped into the Emergency Ward, I could hear the s/he screaming.  And s/he didn’t let up.

At all.

For an hour.

I have no idea what was ailing this child, but I suspect that s/he will grow up to be an opera singer.

And that, my friends, sums up my second hospital adventure!  I sincerely hope that I’ve used up all my hospital visits for the year.

Blatant Self Promotion 2015 (Or, An Owls Well Year in Music)

At Owls Well, we like to look back over the major events that have occurred in the Owls Well universe during the past year. Every year, WordPress gives us a report on the top posts on our blog. Their report is always rubbish. (If you want to see their report, go here)

Instead, A Becky Lee and I have put together our own guide to some of our favourite posts from 2015, and we are also adding in some recommended listening music to accompany each one! Bonus!

We have put the the full music playlist that summarises the ups and downs and madnesses of an Owls Well year in the handy-dandy playlist below!  So put your headphones on and enjoy the ride!

Debs G’s favourite posts:

Learn how to curate after school activities for kids.

Recommended Music: Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice

Organising the living room into a family friendly space.

Recommended Music: Pharrell Williams – Happy

Introducing Peranakan Culture to the Kids.

Recommended Music: Redbone – Come and Get Your Love

Everything’s ok when we’re on Vacation! To Disneyworld!

Recommended Music: Rhett & Link – I’m On Vacation

Thumper’s explosive arrival into our family.

Recommended Music: David Bowie – Dance Magic

A Becky Lee’s Favourite Posts:

Farewell Sir PTerry.

Recommended Music: Rufus Wainwright – Hallelujah

Live the Dream

We bought a house!

Recommended Music: Postmodern Jukebox – Wiggle

Masterful entertaining with Spinach Puffs.

Recommended Music: Homestarrunner – Fisheye Lens

Levelling up the relationship.

Recommended Music: OMI – Cheerleader