Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Korean Fried Chicken Existential Crisis

When I was younger, I never went through any existential crisis. Perhaps because I've never had perfectly good digestive health and struggled most of my life to be well, I was grateful to be alive. The last one and a half years or so, my life changed dramatically because suddenly I became so well I could eat anything I wanted.

Unfortunately all that came to a crashing halt last month. My digestive health is a big mess again. So I'm back to cutting out rice as well as oily food. I think most people do not suffer any effects from eating rice. I guess I'm in the minority.

It is one thing to cut out rice totally but oily food - that's hard. I mean how oily is oily? Does that mean I can't eat Korean Fried Chicken anymore? Well, I had two pieces of 4 Fingers (it's sort of Korean fried chicken, isn't it?) and had a huge fight with my stomach. Stomach won. Acid reflux declared victory.

I haven't dared to eat any Korean Fried Chicken or any fried chicken since then. Not even grilled chicken. And feeling miserable. Why not eat steamed chicken? Sadly, I'm not a steamed chicken kind of gal. Anyway, I'm so tired of eating fish. And tuna. And sardines. I've grown so attached to having Korean Fried Chicken now and then it's so hard. Like, what's the point of life... without Korean Fried Chicken? Is there documentation of people who have survived without Korean Fried Chicken? How did they do it? How miserable were they?

I told myself there are many people in this world who are suffering in worse ways than me. I should be grateful I can still eat. Nope. Nothing. Still miserable. Still. Pining. For. My. Korean. Fried. Chicken. 

Oh, if you think cutting out rice just means cutting out rice, so wrong. It seems, in Chinese cuisine, there's a lot of food containing rice flour which I enjoy rather frequently. I mean if I'm cutting out rice, I have to cut out ALL food containing rice.

The following delicious food contains rice which I will not eat again for a very long time.

My beloved radish cake.


Kway Teow (stir fried rice cake strips)

 Mui fan. (larger version of kway teow)

Chee Cheong Fun (steamed rice rolls)

Vietnamese noodles

 Congee
Duck porridge

Hokkien mee


Bee Hoon

Fried carrot cake

Yam cake

Soon Kueh

Chwee Kueh

Chinese Rice Dumpling

Mochi

Sticky rice cake

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Not So Perfect Miter



Yesterday I was in a decluttering mood and in the middle of throwing away/still hanging on to stuff in the storeroom, I discovered that I have several embroidery all completed but somehow still in an unfinished stage. I mean once the embroidery is done, what do you do with it? I don't really like to frame anything so I usually throw it into a box and not think about it again.

I completed Harriet The Hen in 2016. This was done in back stitch. The original done in free motion quilting was done in 2014. That piece is somewhere in my home. Maybe it'll show up one day. Anyhoos, I decided to finish this embroidery piece as a "quilt". I don't know what you call this - collage? Anyway, I'll call it a "quilt".

I'm not a quilter. I'm sure you know that. I don't know many ways to finish a quilt. This cheat way is a method I've used during the days when I made cards. Using paper, it's a lot neater. With fabric, it requires some fiddling... So if you're ok with not so perfect miter, I'm happy to share with you the steps.

1. Cut batting same size as embroidery piece. Mine measures 10" across and 12" tall.

2. Cut backing larger than embroidery piece by 1" all round. Mine measures 12" across and 14" tall. It is actually easier to place the backing below the embroidery piece and cut the backing with the extra 1" using a ruler and rotary cutter.
p.s. please ignore the pins.

3. I find that pinning the 3 layers together doesn't work. Instead I spray basted the embroidery piece to the batting. Worked really well and I didn't even need any pins after. If you don't have spray adhesive, you can sew large basting stitches 1/8" in around the perimeter of the embroidery piece to the batting and backing.

4. Now we need to do some folding using the iron to create creases. First fold the excess backing all the way in. Do on all 4 sides.

5. At each corner, you will see the creases made. Put a pin through the intersection of the horizontal and vertical crease.

6. Fold the corner backing, wrong sides together and making the creased lines align with the edge of the embroider piece. The pin makes sure you don't pull the fabric too much. Hold this position, remove the pin and iron the diagonal fold.

7. Trim the fold. Leave around 1/4".
Now repeat step 5 to 7 for all corners.

8. At this point, your backing should be open with only the 4 corners folded. Fold the backing along each side in half. The raw edge of the backing should meet the raw edge of the embroidery piece. Iron to get the crease.

9. Fold the backing one more time
I find it easier to do step 8 followed by step 9 for each side.

10. If you managed a perfect miter, congrats. Mine doesn't look perfect but once I sew them down, they'll look a lot better.

11. I find pins create bubbles (for 3 layers) so I use some pegs and whatever clips I can find.

12. Now this part is really important. Use your walking foot. If you don't have one, your regular foot will give you some puckers. Live with it. Anyway, on my Janome sewing machine, my stitch length needs to go up to 2.8 (from regular 2.2) for the walking foot. Sew along the edge of the folded backing.

13. I back stitch at the corners. It's normal for the miter to open up slightly.

14. If the open miter bothers you, hand sew the 2 sides together. Just sew over and over until you reach the end.

Like this.

I'm pretty happy with my results. It's not perfect but at least it doesn't look unfinished.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What March Made

Hey there,

It's me. I'm still on earth. March #yearofmaking2018 was a big fail. I had all sorts of stuff planned. In the end I only made something for 9 days?

I didn't touch my knitting at all. I found my knitted lace but I had no motivation to finish it. I thought a new knitting project might interest me but nothing!

I did become interested in making a table runner which I saw in a Korean drama "Good Thieves". What intrigued me was the runner was single layer. I did some research and discovered the technique uses something similar to french seams to hide the raw edges. Everything is hand sewn so it's quite tedious. If I give this a go again, I'll do 2 things differently. Firstly, I'll use fabric which has a good wrong side (because of the single layer) Secondly, I won't hand sew.

I made a coin pouch for myself. For someone who has made hundreds of pouches, I don't have any. I use it when I go to the coffee shop to buy tea.


I wanted to complete my running stitch sampler but it came to a halt. This is work in progress and I'll add to it in April. There are so many variations of running stitches. I really enjoy working on this project.

I wrote a tutorial for a Lucky Charm Pouch. p.s. My daughter happily accepted the lucky charm I made.

To be honest, I was having quite a nice time in March until 19th March. I remember that fateful day. I had a dental appointment at noon. Just the usual cleaning, no decay, thank goodness. For lunch I had Vietnamese pork chop rice. Not my first time having it. It tasted fine. By night-time, after my usual dinner of rice+vege+chicken, my stomach had blown up and a very familiar god awful headache returned. From that day, anything I ate or drank (even water) would trigger a nightmarish bloating, excessive belching and the ginormous headache. On top of that, I had morning diarrhea every day. You know, all these is very familiar. I remember for a year between 2015 and 2016, I had all these symptoms. It ended spectacularly with me going to the hospital emergency department and I had my gall bladder removed. Remember all that? I still have the scars. I wonder how it'll end this time? I don't think I'm open to losing an intestine.

So after my gall bladder removal thingy had settled down, my digestive issues disappeared and I even managed to travel overseas 2 times. And I thought I had recovered forever. I blame the doctor. The surgeon who removed the gall bladder told me I could eat anything afterwards. I could lead a normal life. He shoulda told me to live life carefully. Ugh. I even went back to eating rice even though I know from experience rice makes me bloated. Seriously, it's madness to try to get a Chinese to stop eating rice. When I was on a rice-free diet, I would dream of eating rice... Okay, it's not all on the doctor. The past 1 year, I've been quite careless with my diet. I ate a lot of fried and oily food. Dem you Korean fried food! I read that it's not good for someone without a gall bladder. But it's on the internet. So I'm not sure if it's fake news.

In the beginning I took a lot of panadols to cope with the headaches. Bloating, belching and headache - I almost thought I was going insane. I couldn't think of anything other than my stomach. My entire day revolved around not going mad and of course clearing air from my stomach.

Fortunately last week, I discovered that exercising helped tremendously. Sometimes I could make the headaches go away by jumping/running around. The higher intensity, the better I feel. I wonder if this is the Universe's way of making me exercise? Stopping the panadol was the right step. My stomach was so sensitive I needed to give it a break from chemicals. I have modified my diet. No rice and I take very small meals. I'm avoiding oily and fried food for now. Hopefully, my stomach stops bloating and I can eat and drink without fear. If not, I have to see a doctor. Having gone through this before, I fear my doctor will just throw all kinds of drugs at me, just to see which works. Not looking forward.

Oh, speaking of exercising, did I tell you guys hubs and I signed up as a couple to train with a personal trainer at Fitness Bravo? The trainer is my niece, Mindy. I was quite apprehensive going in. I mean, I was super unfit and had put on so much weight. I wondered how torturous it would be.

We've gone for a total of 4 sessions (1 hour each and we go once a week) and I kid you not. It was tough. I know Mindy tried to ease me in but still, my muscles hurt like f*ck afterwards in the beginning. It is starting to feel less sore so I think I've made progress! I even do some exercises at home. Like every day. I'm a changed woman.

So overall, March, not so good for crafts, bad for stomach but great for exercising and fitness. I hope April will be a more balanced month.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lucky Charm Drawstring Pouch DIY


Up until I was in my late twenties (when I got married), my mother gave me a talisman to carry in my bag. A Chinese talisman is some lucky words written in red on a piece of yellow paper. I don't believe in talisman but my mother is a great believer. So to give her peace of mind, I accepted the talisman. But I was too embarrassed to let anyone see me carry a talisman, so I put it in a tiny drawstring pouch. No, I didn't make the drawstring pouch and I still have it except I can't pinpoint its exact location.

Anyways, recently I find I worry about my daughter a lot and I can't help but think maybe a talisman might help. No, I'm not going to a temple to get one. Instead I'm making my own lucky charm pouch. So lucky you, while I was making the tiny pouch, I took pics so you guys can make your own. Now the hard part: how to sneak it into my daughter's bag?

This little drawstring pouch can be a lucky charm pouch or you could put some potpourri. Or use it as a little decoration for your bag. Or use it as a gift pouch? (omit the cord)

FYI, PingAn (平安) means peace, safety. Please note that you don't have to use the Ping An characters. You can easily use other appropriate words which apply to your situation such as Love, Joy, Money, $$$, 100/100, Toto, Powerball, etc.

1. Supplies
cord: 7"
thread which functions as a drawstring: 16" cut into 2  (I used size 3 Egyptian cotton. You can use perle cotton or embroidery thread)
fabric: Little amount of exterior and lining. For scrap fabric, I used a light beige colour so the words will show.
pen: see step 3

p.s. I interfaced the exterior fabric but left the lining as is. So include interfacing in the supplies if you need it.

Download the template HERE and use the templates to cut out your exterior fabric, lining fabric and the scrap fabric.

2. Fold
The scrap fabric needs all four edges folded in. Use the 平安 template folded along the dotted line as a guide. Iron the folds to get a nice edge.

3. Pen
I used a ZIG fabricolor pen to write 平安. If you don't have such a pen, use a Sharpie or a micron pen. Or whatever you have as long as the ink is permanent.

4. Position PingAn
Fold your exterior fabric in half along the length, right side facing you. Position the folded scrap fabric with 平安 in a diamond shape. The bottom tip of the diamond should be 0.5" from bottom fold of exterior fabric. Keep diamond centered on both sides. Pin the scrap fabric to the exterior fabric and sew the scrap fabric to one layer of exterior fabric around the folded edges.

5. Cord
Position cord (folded in half) as shown above. I have around 0.5" of cord above the top of the exterior fabric because such cord tends to fray. You can use fray check or a dab of glue on the ends. Baste cord to exterior fabric close to the edge.

6. Sew
Right sides together, place exterior fabric over lining fabric. Match top of the shorter side. Sew across.

Repeat for the corresponding short side. Note that the lining is deliberately shorter than the exterior. Iron seams open.

7. Re-position

Move your fabric around until you have the seams of both top and bottom pieces meeting perfectly. Pin. Note that your exterior fabric will be on top of each other and same goes for lining fabric.

8. Sew sides
Sew the sides together. Leave a 1.5" gap in the lining for turning right side out.

9. Trim and iron
Trim the 4 corners and iron the side seams open. Turn pouch right side out.

10. Drawstring 1
Because this pouch is very small, we won't create a casing for the drawstring. Instead we use thread to do the job. You can sew through both the exterior and lining but I find it too thick for my thread to go through so I'm only going to thread through the exterior fabric. We start on the front of the pouch. Keep a constant distance of 0.5" away from the top of the pouch. The first and the last stitches are 1/4" away from the sides. In between the stitches are 1/2" apart. Repeat with the stitches at the back of the pouch.

If you have done the first drawstring correctly, both ends should be on the left. (see image above)

11. Drawstring 2
We want the 2nd drawstring to go in the opposite direction so we start at the back. This time you don't need to measure, just place your stitches like 1/8" below the existing stitches. Repeat for the exterior front.

If you have done the 2nd drawstring correctly, both ends should be on the right. (see image above)

12. Finish Up
Thread the 2 ends of each drawstring into a bead and tie a knot. You can omit the bead if you don't have one. Sew the gap in the lining using slip stitch, push the lining into the pouch and you're done!


Tassel Variation

If you like tassels, you can attach one to your pouch.
a. Make your tassel. You can follow my tutorial here.
b. In step 5 after attaching the cord, you can sew the tassel onto the exterior fabric. Keep it centered.
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