Let Romance Pop-Up with a Handmade Card

It was my first time making a birthday card, a pop-up one. I wanted to make it really special because love has the power to make you do things like that. And when the relationship is over, it’s the crazy things you have done or done together that will become a warm memory of this person you were once in love with.

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The recipient of the card has an artistic streak and has created several pieces of abstract and sometimes profound digital artworks. Since it is for a birthday, I picked this piece that was inspired by the recipient’s trip to Sydney and was enthralled by the fireworks at Darling Harbour, resembling angels of light bringing something good with them.

I spent a couple of sleepless nights thinking about how to make the birthday special and a few more getting excited about the idea of making a pop-up card, but more on thinking about how to do it. Thankfully, there are Youtube tutorials around.

So after an online crash course and picking the image, I set about conceptualising a pop-up card using elements in the image to form the layered effect and it’s off to Bras Basah to buy materials. Although it is a simple card, quite a bit of brain cells died to anticipate the number of cards and the combination of different types needed to provide a nice finish.

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I settled on 2 pieces of black construction paper, one to for the pop-up structure to hold the pieces of graphics, and another to form a backing so that when you look through the holes cut out from the top piece, you don’t see through them. I also got a thicker gold card to form the outer skin of the card.

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Side view of the pop-up card with 2 layers of black construction paper. The first layer if for cutting folded strips to hold the graphics and the back layer is complete the illusion of a night sky for the fireworks, else you will see through the cut strips.

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I’ve thought through and done the measurements but unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the fact that the full height of the centre graphic is taller than the height of the card when folded close, resulting in it jutting out of the card. *Panic!* To rectify the problem, I went back to the stationery shop to buy a bigger piece of gold outer skin as the first one I got was the same size as the black construction papers and extended the size of the card to fit everything in.

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Ta-da! The completed card. Not something exceptionally beautiful but it came from the heart. The envelope says “Celebrate”, the front of the card states the recipient’s name, and inside says “Happy Birthday” so they form sort of a 3-part greeting before the message. I know, the message I wrote is lame. LOL.

So that’s my little adventure into arts and crafts. I think there’s nothing more romantic than a handmade something because it says that that person is thinking about you through the conceptualisation, planning, and execution stages. It’s time consuming and a lot of work.

But when you see the person’s eyes really light up, it’s all worth it.

A Unique Do-It-Yourself Christmas Hamper

Hampers make great gifts but they’re usually rather costly and there’s no control over what items to include in the package. So this yuletide, I decided to assemble my own hamper to gift families of close friends and conceived what I call the Christmas Hat-per!

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Goodbye impersonal gift hampers… hello Christmas Hat-per!

The Christmas Hat-per is very easy to put together and this post will share how it is done. It took me only about 15 minutes to wrap the Hat-per but a lot more time thinking and shopping for the items to be included within.

To assemble the Christmas Hat-per, you will need 3 things – a Santa hat, a container, and streamers.

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Streamers for decoration, plastic containers to serve as a base and Santa hat to conceal the gifts within.

I got all the above items from Daiso Singapore at S$2.00 each (streamer, hat and container) but you can get them anywhere as long as you can find a container with a rim that fits the circumference of a Santa hat. The container acts as a solid base to stabilise and hold the gifts in place.

I put together 2 hat-pers according to what I know about the people I created the them for. One is gold and the other red.

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GoldHealth Hat-per… this hat-per was put together for a family who is very health conscious. It consists of a box of green tea, a pack of Nasi Lemak (yup, you read it right… nasi lemak!) tea, a small packs of nuts and a bottle of organic honey-vinegar.

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A tip about selecting items in the hat-per is that a tall bottle is a must to serve as the central pillar to hold up the Santa hat.

Start the assembly process by first securing the bottle with a lot of scotch tape to the base of the container in the middle. The other gifts need to be smaller and fit around the bottle. Scotch tape is used to stick the items to the bottle to secure their placements.

I then wound the streamer around the ensemble to fill up the gaps and twirled it around the bottle to the top (the streamer is secured with scotch tape at the top). This creates a visual surprise when the recipient pulls off the hat and see the sparkles inside.

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Red Adventure Hat-per… for a lively personality who has a penchant for pink / red (that’s why the gifts are almost all in those hues) and cute animal things. The curation of gifts includes a vanity set (from my mum), nasi lemak tea (I’m so enthralled by this exotic flavor that I bought 2), koala biscuits, lemon biscuits (gift from another friend), mocha almonds, and a bottle of bubbly.

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Because of the tight space, the items are held together easily with a little scotch tape at the back of each item. The great thing about assembling a personalised hamper is that you choose the items to include and control cost.

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After assembling the gift items and adding the streamers inside, slip the Santa hat over the packaged gifts and pull the hat’s brim over the containers rim. The container is a little larger that the hat’s rim so it forms a secure seal when the fabric stretches over the rim. No need for scotch tape or any other fasteners to hold the hat to the container. As a finishing touch, I stuck pieces of scotch tape rolled to form double-sded tapes at close intervals at the base and wrapped the excess streamers around it to add some bling. I avoided using double-sided tapes as they are hard to remove from the containers surface later.

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Ta-da! Specially made personal Christmas Hat-pers ready to bring on good tidings. Best thing is, the hat can be worn and the container used for other purposes so there is minimal wastage and a second life for the packaging materials.

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Wishing you and your love ones a blessed yuletide. Happy gifting!

Fangtastic Halloween at Singapore Turf Club

Halloween is a golden opportunity to horse around and I got a chance to literally do just that at Singapore Turf Club to celebrate this year’s hallow’s night. What an unusual venue for a heart-pounding Halloween party!

A good time up for grabs.

I’ve never stepped foot on Singapore Turf Club before this visit. Neither at its former racecourse located at Bukit Timah built in 1933 nor its current home at Kranji from 1999. The old race track has since been transformed into a dining and lifestyle venue known as The Grandstand while the Kranji club evolved to be more than just a horse-racing club but an exotic haunt for major events such as Singapore Symphony Orchestra concerts, lawn parties, ringside entertainment and holding private functions.

With the bubbly Fadilah who invited me to the Fangtastic Halloween party held in one of the Corporate Boxes with a 180-degree view of the race track.

马到功成,一马当先!Although I didn’t place any bets, it was quite a rush watching the horses and their jockeys try to out gallop each other.

Creative eats at the event… coffin-shaped salmon wiches that brings the carbo crave to the grave, crawlie sweets and spooktato mousse in beef stew.

The party’s theme was Halloween Glam and I don’t know how to mix glam and gore together, I was thankful make-up artists were on hand to add that spook factor.

Let me in!

Part of our night’s activities included a tour of the race arena and getting a close-up of the riders and stallions. I thought the ring would whiff of horse manure and wastes like most places that offer horse-drawn carriage or pony rides but it was thankfully stench-free.

Horse power on parade.

I’ve read that jockeys have a small stature so as to minimise load on the horses and maximise speed. It’s true!

一见发财!Looks like there’s an audition for sugar daddies going on. LOL.

We became the unofficial half-time entertainment for guests at the turf with our personas.

Halloween is the only time you can say that a horrific party is actually the best ever.

Having a fangtastic and ghoul time with new and old friends.

The thoughtful party was a cozy and intimate catching up session away from crowded clubs downtown and transportation was convenient as Singapore Turf Club is a short walk to Kranji MRT Station.

On the train, I finally revealed what had been hidden throughout the party…

Everyone can see the make-up outside, but only we know the devil within. Don’t let it eat you alive.

Happy Halloween!

Orchard Road Christmas Decor 2013

Some of this year’s happy lights along Orchard Road shot entirely with my aging Samsung Galaxy S3…

Plaza Singapura’s outdoor decoration looked anorexic this year.

One of the oldest shopping icon in Singapore, Plaza Singapura used to have such elaborate dress up that turned its main entrance into a playground. Now it’s just a small tree behind its acrylic version of the United Colours of Benetton. Money no enough?

Orchard Central usually have some statement pieces in its Christmas décor and this year, it puts the green into the yuletide season with decorations made by recycling the bottom of plastic bottles. Quite a neat idea.

Saw a narcissistic tree outside Orchard Central. The saying about narcissists is that they seldom have a good ending. Point proven with this photo? LOL.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree. Here’s the partridge. But where’s my true love? 😦

Louis Vuitton’s Christmas window display took a light-hearted ride on the wild side with geese pulling a sleigh of LV gift-things. But I suddenly have the craving to eat Lou (卤) 鸭.

It’s an unusual sight… Malays singing Christian hymns and Christmas carols. Singapore is so progressive!

ION Orchard erects a giant Christmas tree (yet again) to herald the festivities. Combined with huge screens flashing advertisements and a massive LED skin wrapped around its outer visage, the décor gave the illusion that there is a lot going on when there’s really not much. It has what I call the ‘Chinese Ghost Story effect’… a pretty maiden by night and a grave during the day.

Bring on the bling and celebratION!

The HIGHlight (no pun intended) is staring high up at the tower of lights inside ION Orchard’s gigantic tree. It makes the eyes dizzy.

When seen in focus, the inside looks like a Star Wars set.

Another spin shot of the lights created by simply turning the mobile phone while shooting. The lights change colours so each ‘vortex’ photo can look different.

Wheelock Place had Christmas decals in the shape of gingerbread men, snowflakes and poinsettias on its glass doors. We decided to turn gingerbread dude into a lass. Hahaha…

A peep into Wheelock Place’s Christmas decorations.

It’s an astrological Christmas with a constellation of lights.

Turning the Christmas cones into planets.

Forum Galleria had a novel idea to bring in the safari for Christmas with birds and beasts of the topics and savannah.

The concept was unusual but the zoo theme felt salah.

Let it snow, let it snow! Tanglin Mall always draw the crowd with its faux snow.

Better have fun and enjoy it as this could very well be the last year that Tanglin Mall brings ‘winter’ to Singapore.

Didn’t get to cover all the mall decors as I started shooting the lights this year pretty late.

But with this shots, I wish you and your love ones a Christmas filled with affection, happiness and good health! 🙂

Singapore National Day 2013 : Be the Firework

While the National Day Parade (NDP) attracted thousands to join hearts in the celebration of Singapore’s 48th birthday at Marina Bay, I joined limbs, torso and buttocks with fitness lovers at SAFRA Mount Faber for a mass kick-boxing and Zumba session!

The 2-hour non-stop adrenaline pumping workout gave me a high that was equivalent to the euphoria of watching the NDP fireworks ‘live’. But even better. The firework was brought within to torch calories and burn fats with the feel-good mood lasting the whole day instead of a mere 10 minutes at the grandstand!

Happy Birthday Singapore! 新加坡,生日快乐!Selamat Hari Jadi Singapura! இனிய பிறந்த நாள் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள் Singapore! I love ya!

Put your hands up if you love Singapore! Regardless of race, language, religion and deodorant use, the theme this year salutes our unity in diversity through “Many Stories… One Singapore”. The many strands of fur under my armpits concur!

Fireworks can also come from the faces of people. The smile from this gungho nanny who kicked and grooved through the aerobic moves brightened my morning and showed that exercising is the fountain of youth!

A-cha! 李小龙俯身! High intensity kickboxing is one of the best calories burner with an hour burning up approximately 400 calories for women and 700 for men. How much calories one burns depends on age, sex, weight and muscle mass in the body so those numbers are just a gauge, but kickboxing is definitely one great way to rev up the metabolism. Plus, it is very cathartic to throw those punches and high kicks at the stressors of life.

Participants of the free aerobics session from 10am to 12pm were encouraged to turn up in red and/or white attire.

The sessions were injected with national songs such as “Stand up for Singapore”, “Home”, and this year’s theme song, “One Singapore”. I got goosebumps when they came on, feeling how lucky I am to call this little red dot home.

It may seem like psychological propaganda to exhaust the body and mind so that nationalistic messages may sink in, but I don’t think of it as propaganda because the fact is that Singapore, despite its faults and flaws, is truly a great place to be. So to any one who dislikes our nation, the above photo is for you *smile*

After an hour of kickboxing, the endorphin rush reached a crescendo with Zumba. Always game to try a new workout, I’ve perspired through almost all of them… step aerobics, body combat / kickboxing, body pump, hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga, pilates, and spinning, but I’ve never done Zumba. The reason? I have 2 left feet and 2 right hands. Need I explain more? My lack of coordination made keeping up with even the simplest of sequences in step classes a Charlie Chaplin act. So I’ve always regarded my participation in Zumba to be nothing short of being the joke of the town.

But I had the last laugh as the workout is really not as difficult as it looks and hips heaps of fun!

Zumba fans up in arms for their favourite aerobic workout.

What makes Zumba such an aerobic phenomenon is the hip (no puns intended) factor where it is not just a workout, but a freedom of self expression through fashion and dance.

Our Zumba instructress is a firecracker on stage with abs to serve ketupat on.

A 60-minute session of Zumba can burn between 500 – 1,000 calories depending on intensity. To make the aerobic moves more challenging, try strapping on some additional weight around the ankles and wrists.

Keep the fat off with a Zumba dance-off!

Bobee-bobee during Seventh Month (Hungry Ghost Festival)? LOL. The variety of Zumba moves is limited only by imagination and linked by enthusiasm. We all pray for continued harmony, prosperity and happiness for our nation as well as… world peace!

I made it through my first Zumba session and loved it!

We are the fireworks at SAFRA Mount Faber to celebrate Singapore’s birthday! Just realized I’m the only guy on stage with my extended Singaporean family. I don’t know any of them but I didn’t feel like a stranger after sweating it out together.

I used to think that the best way to celebrate National Day is to enjoy the parade ‘live’ with thousands of Singaporeans and our foreign friends. However, the NDP tickets are always so hard to get and traffic is a bane. But having participated in the unique mass aerobics session held in honour of our nation’s birthday at SAFRA Mount Faber, I felt it is really a great alternative or supplement to plug into the national spirit on this special day.

Moreover, what better way to enjoy a fantastic country like Singapore and all it has to offer by being in great health? So do more than just watch the fireworks, be the firework that builds our Singapore!

You can start igniting your body for better cardiovascular health with various fitness courses such as Kickboxing, Zumba Party, and Zumba Fitness at SAFRA. Check out safra.sg (Events & Activities > Courses) for more details.

Here’s wishing Singapore a very happy 48th birthday and excellent health to everyone so that we can continue creating more amazing stories to be told!

Day 360 : John 3:16

Although I am blasphemous and a terrible backslider in faith who constantly denouces the existence of God as much as I affirm the pressence of Him, I am grateful for the Word and lessons in grace, compassion, love, forgiveness, humility and courage.

Merry Christmas to you and I pray for health, peace and a bountiful of the most beautiful things in life to happen to you, your family, friends, and all who can be linked to you 🙂

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Day 354 : Department Christmas Lunch

Our department had an early Christmas celebration this year to catch everyone before some of us go on leave. Just for fun, we decided on coming to work in red and green today. I wanted to suggest bling as the theme but most of my colleagues, although we are in the creative department, favour functional understatement instead of over-the-top dresscode so two-thirds of a traffic it is.

The year end feasting begins!

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