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.

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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!

SAFRA Dance-a-thon 2014

SAFRA Singapore rocked *SCAPE with its inaugural Dance-a-thon where participants get to shake their bon bons for a good cause. With a slew of grooves ranging from Zumba Fitness to Hip Hop to Jazz and more, the 8-hour dance mania is cure for two-left-feeters and all in the spirit of charity… to raise funds for Society for the Physically Disabled.

Enticed by the opportunity to burn off Chinese New Year calories and do good, I signed up for the Dance-a-thon. Never mind that my eyes-to-limbs coordination is as present as Aston Casey’s ability to be humble.

From 10am – 6pm on 15 Feb 2014, The Ground Theatre at *SCAPE throbbed with hot beats and nimble footwork. Dance-a-thon is a lead up to the annual SAFRA Dance Fiesta where dance enthusiasts pit their moves against each other in a celebration of showmanship, creativity and stamina.

RFID anklets were issued to monitor the dance duration of each participant in a bid to clock a total of 4,000 dance hours.

Fitness and dance instructors from various gyms and studios led the adrenaline sets to raise heart rates and improve cardiovascular health. And memory to string the steps and movements together.

The event reminded me of the very popular afternoon tea dances during the late 1980s where teenagers can club without alcohol. I felt like a daddy figure to all the youngsters on the dancefloor!

So you think you can dance? Or couldn’t. It doesn’t matter. Dance-a-thon was all about having a good time and burning fat the fun way!

My right knee made itself felt after about 2 hours into the dance segments and decided to make room for more dancers as they streamed in throughout the 8-hour session.

Any participant who has clocked at least 1 hour of dancing received one of these commemorative medals. It’s a nice keepsake to complement the pounds sweated out!
To keep in step with SAFRA’s latest happenings and exciting events such as the Dance-a-thon (which will happen again next year), visit safra.sg to find out the latest activities and promotions for NSmen and your family!

 

SAFRA Yishun Country Club Open House

Action hero or pai kiah? There aren’t many places in Singapore where we can legally pose with a gun. This is one such place. Read on to find out exactly where you can have your Terminator / Rambo / Lara Croft moment…

As I opened the door and entered the clubhouse, a sweet whiff of cotton candy greeted me and momentarily distracted my gaze from the horde at the reception. Is the circus in town?

Well, something like that. But the performers are you at…

Oh what fun! For a small fee, members and guests get to clown it out at a funky photo booth, get caricatured, take on heart-stopping ‘stunts’ at the adventure zone, hone marksmanship at an indoor shooting range and much more!

The one-day only open house of SAFRA Yishun Country Club was packed with people for good reason. Most of the activities such as rock climbing, Canopy Challenge Walk and Indoor Air Weapon Range were opened to public specially during the open house.

On normal days, one needs to be a member of the various sports and shooting clubs and pay equipment rental fees before access to those facilities is granted. So a SAFRA open house is definitely an event not to be missed to sample all the fun and adventure!

Monkeying around with existing friends and newfound ones. What a great place to foster friendship and connect!

Here’s a good reason to laugh at ourselves…

… through the comical interpretations by a caricaturist. The queue was rather long so I didn’t get mine drawn.

The main draw for me at the open house was the chance for a shootout at the Indoor Air Weapons Range.

Anyone above 13 years of age got a chance to take out the bull’s-eye. Showing off your bon bon is a bonus.

One job I won’t be able to do is an assassin. My aims with a F-16 rifle were usually off the mark during my army training days. I haven’t held a gun in a long time. I wonder how I would fare at this 10m air weapons range.

Pellets used for the shoot. Each shooter is given a target sheet and 6 bullets for every trial.

After a short briefing on safety measures and how to take aim, I tested my marksmanship after almost 18 years!

Not too bad! At least I managed to punch all 6 bullets within the black spot. Phew… the shooting range was great fun!

Moving on from the indoor range, the next thrill sits atop a hill at SAFRA Yishun Country Club.

I attempted this 25m wall on a previous visit to SAFRA Yishun but I couldn’t conquer it. Perhaps one day I will.

Spotted : Spiderman. Check out this guy’s traps and deltoids!

It’s no child’s play. Well, in this case, it is. Kids and first-time climbers can try the easier walls before attempting the more challenging ‘adult’ walls.

In addition to rock climbing, the Adventure Sports Centre houses 2 sets of obstacle courses that will definitely get the adrenalin pumping at maximum capacity. Not for the faint hearted. Pictured here is the Cargo Net Bridge.

Cirque du Soliel? Almost. Called the Elvis Walk, this challenge requires adventurers to hold on to dangling braids while negotiating a narrow rope-path suspended amongst a canopy of trees. I think my legs would turn to jelly.

Spotted : Fly trapped in a spider web. The obstacle courses are definitely no walk in the park and stretches not just one’s fitness, but guts.

I had a really good time during the open house and wished it wasn’t just for one day. Other SAFRA clubs will be holding open houses at different times of the year so keep a lookout and join in the fun with friends and family!

Scaling New Heights in Fitness & Adventure

No need to search for that elusive Rapunzel to let down her hair. I satisfied (and survived) my lust for thrills at SAFRA Yishun’s towering 18m abseil challenge and many more!

In the not too distant past, I could hardly sit still and had an insatiable appetite for the kind of adventures and thrills mama wouldn’t approve of. Rollercoaster rides?… No problem. Skydiving?… Where do I sign up? Bungee Jumping?… The higher the better!

Then age happened. I’m 39 by the way. And suddenly, I get mild acrophobia just by staring down my HDB window on the 15th floor. Where I used to be a daredevil, I now have a distaste for heights and anything that could raise the heart rate beyond a yawn. To rub salt into the wound, my fitness level declined and my muscles are melting faster than I could feed them with albumin. Plus, I’ve been inflicted with a chronic neck problem since late last year.

But being older doesn’t need to mean leading a poorer quality of life. A lot of how we feel and look has to do with metabolism. The slower the metabolism, the less zest we have. The good news is, we can re-program our metabolism to behave younger through sound nutrition and certain exercises.

I’ve resolute to switch on my metabolic rate again for a long time, maybe not back to when I was 18 but at least 28 *haha*, but work and frequent travels constantly thwart my plans. Thankfully, I’ve made it as SAFRA’s partner in fitness for the next 12 months and I’m excited to start reclaiming my health through facilities and possibly personal training (PT) sessions at its various clubhouses built specially for NSmen!

As I embark on this journey to rehabilitate bodily aches, improve muscle tone and reignite my passion for physical adventure, I’ll share highlights and fitness tips along the way as well as progress updates in achieving my ideal physique (I have a secret desire to be like Schwarzenegger. Whoops. I said it. It’s no secret now… haha) should I go on PT.

I am determined to succeed in delivering the promise of better health for my body and mind.

Have you made your promise to live better? 🙂

On the Heels of Nature

Superb weather today for a jog to torch my binge on Chinese New Year goodies before the festivities even begun. It’s the Year of the Snake but I’m snacking like a pen full of pigs.

Since my not-so-recent woes with a bad neck that has rendered me ungymmable, the only retaliation I have against my runaway appetite was cardio laps at the pool or any distance my legs would carry me. On this sun-drenched day, a long-haul jog itched my chicken feet so I decided to take on the running terrain of MacRitchie Reservoir.

Macaque monkeys run wild at their waterside sanctuary and give city dwellers like me the thrill of encountering wildlife.

After I did a photoshoot at the reservoir some months back to test-drive the Casio Exilim ZR200 compact camera, my affection for the oldest reservoir in Singapore was rekindled. The waterside oasis is a less than 15-minutes bus ride from home yet I wasn’t visiting it often enough. Jogging here provides a much needed escape from urbanity and really refreshing.

But the bad thing is, I tend to do more photographing than running. A one-hour jog usually get extended beyond two hours with all that camera breaks to snap anything from scenery to flora and fauna. Then again, the beauty at MacRitchie Reservoir is a welcomed distraction and definitely made the run more interesting!

Say cheese? This fella was shy at first but when it saw my handphone pointing at it to snap pics, it promptly moved towards me through the foliage. I think it wanted to snatch my phone so I backed away. After a few rounds of our back-and-forth tango, it stood there and opened its mouth as if to scold me!

Felt great running so close to a body of water with the dusking sun reflected on ripples of gold.

Awesomeness!

My favourite photo from this evening’s jog. I took a new trail and came across this scene just as the sun was dipping behind a low hill. I was so awed by the beauty before me.

The run led me by the waters and into the dense forest. Light was fast failing and being caught in the forest when it’s dark unnerved me. So I ran faster…

… and continued to stop to take photos. I should be running but this bald tree rooted my feet. All around it, every plant was leafy green but this one stood solemnly naked by itself. “Don’t leaf me alone,” I seem to hear it say. I was all alone on the trail with nary an idea of where I was in the forest too.

My heart was racing. Not from jogging but the panic of still being in the thick of the forest while darkness weighed in. I wanted to backtrack my route of the past 1.5 hours but decided to continue forward. Boy am I glad I did! Fifteen minutes later, I saw the glimmer of electric lights. I’m back to the comforts of organised chaos. In life, some people take a long tme to reach their destinations on foot while others get there faster by cars, but ultimately we get there. The speed is vastly different. So are the rewards.

Sweat drenched and following a road that I had no idea where it leads, I was enchanted by this scene that juxtaposed the light from a street lamp with the ample moon. They seem to be of the same size here, but we know the scale and reach of their illumination differ at a level beyond comparison… Kinda like what small minds see, and what big hearts show.

I got more than just a cardio workout with this jog as I exercised my eyes and spirit at the same time with beautiful encounters of landscapes both external and internal.

Much of the paths I’d trodden were new to me and although I didn’t know where I was most of the time, having only one road ahead of me provided a consolation that while I’m clueless, I’m not totally lost. If only life is just as clear-cut!

Will definitely jog here more often from now on. And leave all image recording devices at home!

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