Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Cards: A Mass Production

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is enjoying some blessed time with family and friends to celebrate our Lord's birth.

This post has been long overdue but today was when I finally found a little time to put it up. (Sorry for the delay, gals.)

There are some crafts that require many painstaking hours to produce a single final product and then there are others which you can churn out en mass. A few weekends ago, my sister and I went over to our friend Nissi's apartment for an afternoon of crafting. I have no idea how many cards we cranked out over the course of 4 hours but it certainly wasn't just one (as evidenced from the picture above).

Nissi has a love of calligraphy and an indifferent attitude towards card design. I enjoy designing cards but have weak lettering skills - really, it was a perfect match! :) We spent a happy afternoon gushing over paper and art supplies and bonding over our daydream of one day opening an Etsy store. (There's just the small matter of our day jobs which unfortunately, takes up a great deal of our time... :P)

Now for a closer look at some of our creations:

These two cards were designed and lettered by my friend, Wyanne. 

She lined the snowflake with tin foil which looked great in person but unfortunately, I wasn't able to do it justice in my photos.

This was my favorite design. Who knew that black would work so well as a Christmas card? I think it looks classy!

The great thing about punches is that you can use both the positive and the negative. Black snowflakes look surprisingly good.

This was designed and lettered by my sister. Do you recognize where the pieces of the tree come from? That's right, from the tinges of a green punched snowflake. Creative, no?

Will this be the start of a new Christmas crafting tradition? Who knows... but either way, I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas this year! See you in 2016!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Each season has its own charm and fall is probably the most fashionable of them all (I can finally break out my boots!). Autumn colours are warm and rich, making them very fun to work with.

I was invited to a Thanksgiving turkey dinner at the house of some friends this past weekend which gave me the perfect excuse to break out the punches and stamps. These cards were actually very easy to put together and that lovely array of colours is thanks to paint chips.

My personal stamp!

I can't wait until I have time to work on some Christmas cards!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Just Another Dim Sum Party... :)

Over the years, my friends have heard about the "dim sum parties" which my family holds around major holidays. Usually, my recounting of these family gatherings are met with incredulous looks and a request for left over dim sum. It never occurred to me to take pictures of what we did (mainly because I'm often too busy rolling out shrimp dumpling dough) but the last time my family got together, I decided to pull out a camera and prove to the world that these events actually happen.

Seven pairs of hands on the table and that's only half the kitchen. The other eight people were stationed at the stove, counter, sink and refrigerator - dim sum is a full operation. :)

The bamboo steamer and the deep fryer are all set up and ready to go!

Usually, me and 28 of my closest relatives get together around Christmas or during the summer holidays for a full afternoon and evening of food preparation and, of course, eating. Spearheaded by my 6th and 7th aunts, the rest of us just fall into the assembly line with our designated roles having been organically assigned over the years.  Mine, as mentioned before, is rolling out of the shrimp dumpling dough. A very specialized skill, I know, which has been honed after years of practice. :P I'm less adept at the actual wrapping of the shrimp dumplings but can do it if necessary. We usually churn out around 300 shrimp dumplings in an evening - and most of them are gone by the end of it. Some make it to the freezer for future enjoyment.

Usually, this platter would be only one of four.

Sometimes a little experimentation occurs to figure out the perfect steaming time.  

The dim sum menu changes from gathering to gathering depending on the mood of my aunts. The unalterable, staple dish though is the shrimp dumplings which are produced every time without fail. In addition to the dumplings though, our last party also consisted of spring rolls and steamed buns. The picture above with all the hands depicts at least five of us (it would have been six if I hadn't been the one taking the picture) working on the rolling.

The hands of one of my cousins mid-roll.

Again, this platter is usually one of two or three. 

We aim for a crispy golden brown. Mmm...smell the grease. ;)

I know my last post also had steamed buns but these ones look a bit more professional. These were savory buns containing meat and egg. Quite filling.

So there you have it! Proof that these mass gatherings for dim sum production actually happen. They are a lot of work from preparation to clean up but I like to think that they are unique to my family and always a whole lot of fun!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad!

Last weekend, my family celebrated my father's birthday. It was a low-key affair with just 19 people. (Okay,  yes, I come from a big family. These were only the relatives who were in town - you should see our Christmas gatherings :). My sister and I spent all of the previous weekend making longevity buns of which you only see a small selection in the picture above. For those of you who don't know what those are, these are steamed buns made in the shape of a longevity peach and are filled with some sort of sweet paste. These ones were made with an egg custard.

That Saturday, my original plan was to make maybe a batch of 30 or so buns and be done in an afternoon. My mother decided that since we were making steamed buns then we might as well make some to freeze and eat later. So... 5 batches of dough, 12 hours and over 100 steamed buns later... my whole Saturday was gone :P. If some of the buns in the picture look a little lopsided then all I can say is that quality control tends to go down after your 80th bun.

However, some of the buns did turn out pretty darn cute!

This was probably the best of the bunch. 

Artfully arranged on a plate as a triplet. 

It's amazing what a little food colouring will do to liven up your food.

To continue on with the longevity bun theme, I also put together a large card in the shape of a longevity peach. I have to credit a friend from my church's career small group for suggesting the idea.

15 years of Chinese school were not wasted since my sister and I managed to write an entirely Chinese message on the inside. All in all, it was a nice chance to do some crafts which reflect my Chinese heritage.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Winter June

Have you ever been inspired to create something? Inspired to the point that you suddenly wake up from a sound sleep thinking "I've got it! I have to make this NOW!" Well, that's the story with this card and let me tell you, that sort of inspiration is tiring. (I'm never crazy about being woken from a sound sleep - even by a creative muse. :P)

The mentors of my church's Career small group/fellowship (we've grown to be a fair size) recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. During one of our more recent discussions on dating and marriage, one of the mentors mentioned that a winter wedding would have been lovely with fur lined dresses and sleighs carrying the wedding party (Her husband didn't look convinced.) As a thank you gesture to the couple for their years of mentorship, we thought to give them a card signed by everyone in the group wishing them all the best. I couldn't recreate her dream of a winter wedding but I could make a sleigh which is why this Happy Anniversary card looks so much like a Christmas card. :)

Pop-up cards are really cool but they do require some experimentation in paper engineering. I'm quite proud of myself for this card because the entire sleigh was designed from scratch. I literally just woke up one Sunday morning and knew exactly how to put the whole thing together. Unfortunately, it was only an hour before church that morning so I ended up running a little close in terms of time. 

No fancy punches this time - just some imagination and an exacto knife. Pretty cool, eh?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's Cherry Season!

I have a sour cherry tree in my backyard and there is also one at my uncle's place. Each summer, the trees produce a bumper crop of fruit. Two years ago, I picked over 40 pounds of cherries from my uncle's tree alone! There is something beautifully tempting about those glistening red fruits gleaming in the summer sun. Although it is a fair bit of work, I really enjoy the harvest. Of my family, I'm probably the one who spends the most time perched on a ladder filling bucket after bucket. My grandfather was the one who planted the cherry tree over at my uncle's place many years ago and although he has since passed away, every time I pick cherries I feel as if he is smiling down from heaven. Even a suburban girl like me can understand and appreciate how harvest time is a blessing from God. :)

This is what 10 lbs of cherries look like. Yes, I weighed them. :)

So what does one do with 40 pounds of cherries? I give most of them away to friends and family who either eat them straight, bake with them or make sauces, jams or gelatos (yum!) with them. My sister and I have made our share of pies, jams and dried fruit. One of my favorite things to make is a cherry crisp. I am not much of a baker so this easy recipe appealed to me when I first found it. (Okay, the tempting pictures accompanying the recipe also had something to do with it.)

Recently, I made one to bring to a friend's BBQ. I was actually feeling a bit nervous as I was preparing the ingredients because I hadn't baked this in two years and wasn't sure how it would turn out.

A lovely golden brown. 

I should have taken it out about a minute earlier because there were a few crumbs that were burnt but all in all, looking pretty good.

As I wrote to a friend in an email: "Baking is an act of faith. You mix all the ingredients, pour it in a pan, say a prayer over it and then put it in the oven. You can't do anything to fix it while it bakes. Then when it comes out, you have to trust that it tastes okay because you can't really cut a piece out to try it before taking it over to someone else's BBQ." Did I actually pray over this while it was baking? You better believe I did. And it ended up tasting great! ;)

Here's the recipe (I found it on by ARANDYGAIL):

Ingredients for the filling:
4 cups pitted sour cherries
1.5 cups white sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the crust:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
0.5 cup butter
0.5 cup shortening

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. In a large bowl, combine cherries, white sugar, and 4 tablespoons of flour. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the 1.5 cups of flour, oats, and brown sugar. Cut in butter and shortening until crumbly. Sprinkle over cherry filling.
4. Bake in oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Showers, showers and more showers...

The advantage to being a crafting pack rat is that if you need to throw something together at the last minute, you almost always have everything you need right on hand. (Provided that you organize your supplies of course - which I do.) 

My co-worker had a baby shower last Sunday and I was in charge of purchasing and packaging the gift. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for the packaging part until just before the shower. The only wrapping paper designs I had on hand were Christmas ones and I thought that Santas and reindeer would look a little odd on a gift given in July. That's when punches and stickers came to the rescue! And newsprint. Oh, by the way, did you know that the Ottawa Citizen gives away the end rolls for free? Yep. All you need to do is call them and ask. I carted away three:

That's probably a good few hundred feet of paper right there. They are pretty heavy - I had to use a trolley to get them to my car. 

I wrapped the present in newsprint (it was The Original Baby Bullet in case you were wondering) and then pulled out my gel pens and coloured papers and got to work. As part of the Sizzix set I bought at that garage sale a few months back, I got die of a foot. I punched a whole bunch of them in bright printer paper and glued them in pairs on the corners of the present. I had thought of making a more random scattering of feet all over but I just couldn't arrange them to my satisfaction. 

Okay, not my best pictures but I was in a rush.

The card was just a strip of cardstock with a sticker on it and piece of white paper inside. The bow was made of strips of white paper with "Congratulations Tugce & Yener!" written over and over on them. A little tape, a little glue and I was done and ready to go!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flowers and Bridal Showers

I know, I know... I am falling behind on my posts. I must admit that it's flattering to see that my slacking has actually been noticed. :) I've been too busy lately to do crafts - but I'm sure you've already guessed that.

However, occasionally, crafting becomes a priority. My sister had to go to a bridal shower last weekend and she needed two cards. I promised to make them for her...and then ended up procrastinating until it was almost too late. As you can see from the picture above and below though, I made them just in time. (And even was able to take pictures before my sister had to bolt out the door!)

The design was simple and I finally got to play with a few of my unopened toys. First of all, I was excited to use one of my new embossing folders. I think the raised effect of the background makes it seem a touch fancier than usual. I embossed both the front and back but unfortunately, the pressure of doing the front flattened the design on the back so it wasn't as crisp. 

By the way, these folders were one of my few impulse buys. I was strolling through Michaels one day when I saw all of them for sale for well less than half price! The designs are basic and versatile and so I could not resist swiping them all. 

Yes, I know. I have a lot of craft supplies.

I punched out the flowers with a punch from my pack of 40 and stuck gemstone stickers in the middle of a few. I had originally planned to make the bow out of cardstock as well but my sister insisted on ribbon which, I must agree, works better. 

All in all, not bad for something thrown together in half an hour. :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fair or Fowl...or Fruit?

Some projects are finished in an afternoon. Others take two years.

Yep, that lovely pomelo sitting my cousin Patrick's hands was two years in the making. It all started when my ninth aunt bought a 3D origami crafting book from Hong Kong and my cousins and I ambitiously decided to make a figurine together. Originally, it was supposed to be a chicken (you can sort of imagine it...right?) but due to a little miscommunication it ended up evolving a bit over the course of two years. My cousin Patrick was responsible for the majority of the construction and was also the one who made the executive decision to change the sculpture into a pomelo.

A direct quote from the architect: "Since it didn't go into the shape of a chicken, I decided to make it into a fruit...[I'm going to put this] on my desk."

There are over 800 pieces in this figure. It took over 10 hours, 5 people, and half a bottle of white glue. It's hard as a rock and can seriously injure someone if thrown. I was tempted to try the latter out ;). 

I'm almost a little sad to see the end of this project but now, we're just going to have to plan something new. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Craft-y Sunday II

Random yet orderly - I like it :)

The downside to being an adult is that all your friends lead busy lives and getting together isn't as easy as it used to be. It's been two months since our last get-together but a few of my friends and I finally managed to coordinate a crafting day last weekend. The main theme: felting! Of course, as it usually turns out, we all ended up doing a mish-mash of different projects.

It was Michelle's first time felting and she ambitiously tackled three different projects (unfortunately, I only have pictures of two.) That patchwork of hearts pictured above is her felted laptop case. We had gone on a shopping trip to Wabi-Sabi, a yarn store (not a sushi shop :P ) a few weeks ago and she had been enticed by a bag of pretty coloured roving (ie. unworked wool). The gorgeous raspberry coloured roving was her favorite as well as mine. It's nice that she finally got a chance to use it.

A single heart to contrast the busyness of the other side.

There was a fair bit of debate over the design: a single heart for the clean and simple look or a bunch of hearts for a more fun, chaotic look? In the end, she ended up doing both - there are two sides to a case after all.

She tried her hand at a 3D figurine after that. It's a mustached cat ghost/monster...sort of like a Pokemon but not.

Michelle is so creative :) 

My sister decided to be very ambitious and started work on a Chocobo (from Final Fantasy for you non-gamers out there.)

Sharp needles and small fluff - it's a dangerous past-time :P

I'm sure its going to look amazing when it is done but she still has a way to go. I guess we'll just have to wait for our next crafting day.

My friend, Nina, joined us but did not feel like stabbing herself with a needle that afternoon. Therefore, she chose to work on a less hazardous project - a pearl and amethyst necklace.

One small bead to start. 

She also did not finish her project that afternoon but got a pretty good start on it at least. It's going to look lovely when it's done. It's a shame that I'm not that into wearing jewelry or I would be tempted to take up jewelry making myself. Crafters are such magpies :).

As for me, I was working on this little puff of adorable-ness:

Is it a bunny? Is it a dog? Okay, it's supposed to be a bunny with its ears flopped down but I must admit,she ended up looking rather ambiguous between the two.

She is still very sweet though. It was through her that I have also finally figured out why Philly, my felted seal, looks so odd - he is way too toned :P. I felted him so firmly that he lost the cute, fat look. This little bunny had layers and layers of wool added on to plump her up.

Unfortunately, a lot of the other girls were busy last weekend and so we had only a small group gathered around my dining room table. Oh well, it was still a great afternoon and there is always next time!