Are you ready for a Challenge?!

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

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

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

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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!

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Joooooyyyy~!

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~!

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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.)

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.