6 February 2016

how do you decorate a wall?

Some of you might have already known that I have a birdie mind. (see this post) Birds are ace, but also things with “wings”. I have great tendency to fall in love with them. My collections have been displayed on so-called “wing wall” in between our kitchen and living space, where people often gather around. 

It all started with a small part of wall like this photo in 2011. 

But soon it expanded to the entire wall by 2014, which filled with my love of wings, from my favourite artists work to more casual ones like postcard from friends, gift tags, charity shop find, my students drawing etc. They are all precious and special. 

The good thing was that I enjoyed every time I pass this space, but the hindsight was that once fixed you can’t change. I am not a very good cleaner either, so this was becoming a problem. 

So my clever and kind husband took his DIY cap on again, whilst I was putting my “designer” cap on. We often work like this… I get an idea, sketch, sketch, sketch, plan, plan, plan and then gently nudge my husband. Thanks to him, we have upgraded our wing wall to a more fresher look!

Now I can change the display whenever I want, add things or swap around. I can place sculptures as well as 2D pieces. I can clean easier (if I wished to). When it comes to Christmas, we can simply put cards here. Plus, when I ever do open studio, I can display my large platters and print work. So many great use.

The line of shelves were made deliberately the same height and thickness of the book shelf in the living room. They look like continuous flow and neat in an open space. Mmmm… we love it! m x

1 February 2016

may i excuse myself muttering my matter?

As some of you might have already noticed this, my official Facebook page is currently closed. My website is still accessible but you can see nothing has been updated since 2013. There are several reasons that I did this (or didn’t do at all), but mainly up until my daughter’s operation, my priority was obviously her and I wanted to omit my task of checking and updating things about my studio work (and there isn’t any!) 

Apology for those who kindly check these or even contacting me about work. I feel bad for letting you down.

You know I’ve got back to work for over a year now. Why I didn’t resume my studio work, instead of my teaching job, you may think? I suppose I was not confident enough to manage just the studio work, but I needed regular income, this works without too much worries and I get to home on time to gain family time. So the studio door was kept locked. Hope you understand. 

But, a big but, those days may be over. Time to go back in the studio will hopefully be coming soon when spring arrives. I have to start with tidying up, not actually working in there yet though. Nevertheless the door will be reopened. Yes, it must! I may start booking an event! Can I dare? This is rather a crazy thought, because after such a long absence, does anyone really show any interest in my stuff, I wonder? 

Why am I saying this here? Well, I need a goal to work on! You are the witnesses. 

Above image is totally unrelated to my studio work, but we just upgraded our two year old daughter’s work display space. looking great! i must learn from her! m x

13 January 2016

LONDON break, I mean, break?

We just got back from a short holiday in London.

It was the first time for us three to be away from home and stay over somewhere, other than hospitals! Everything was the first experience for Sabrina - first train trip, underground, hotel, English breakfast (!), museums etc. It was all exciting and fun. She must have said “what’s that?” for at least 100 times in three days! 

It was also exhausting! Yes, taking a two-year-old to a trip is exhaaaaausting!!! In the past, I have seen those kids who are lying on the floor and screaming in public, but I've never imagined that I am the one who to deal with my own child in that situation! 

Well, the good thing was that all in all she had a good time and also realised that she loves being back home. We are all ‘home’ people. We love home as much as we love London. And that’s very ok. m x

9 January 2016

wishful thinking

happy belated new year to you all. 
thank you for everyone who visits my ‘inconsistent’ blog.

new year. new start. 

i have never done new year resolution. 
simply because i have never managed to keep up with it. 
nevertheless, this year i am wishing to re-enter my studio door. 

so fingers crossed. watch this space (quietly).
x m

13 December 2015

so i did it!

I mentioned in my last post that I haven’t tried baking with my daughter. Well, that has came to the end! This weekend, Sabrina and I managed to make our first gingerbread man together! Hurray!! 

Just a little thought on what we should take to her friend’s who invited her next week. I must have been very positive (or rarely overconfident?) to think about baking. 

You know, baking is not my forte. 
No, get it right. Baking is not what I am good at. 
No, be precise. Baking is what I do not like. I CANNOT bake. I fear for baking. 

All those measuring, mixing stuff together accurately, unlike cooking where you can “wing it”, and I get it always wrong, stressed and never get the good end result whatever I have baked in the past. Surely it is similar to measuring and mixing glazes? Aren’t kneading and rolling similar to clay work? Every time the pastry stuck on the surface and breaks the shape of gingerbread man, I cried. Why isn’t this working for me? Why is baking so haaaaaard???

Anyway I did it! I am so proud of myself :) 

Sabrina enjoyed rolling and cutting small pieces herself. (Gingerbread man became my task in the end, but anyhow!) Obviously she enjoyed tasting. Yum! 

Her highlight of the weekend was actually the Christmas tree. Once her dad brought it into the room, she was delighted as you can see in the photo. Not so long now, darling. Time to enjoy! x m 

3 December 2015

how do you spend a rainy day with a child?

Rain, rain, rain and more rain and storm! 
What’s going on with this winter’s weather here?? So miserable and it’s putting me off going outside, even driving. Apart from my working days (= my daughter’s nursery days), I simply stay at home mostly. Therefore it’s a challenge for me to keep my two year old daughter’s mind and body active for all day without outdoor play. Otherwise she cries, becomes clingy or worse. 

Due to the nature of my work, people say things like, “Has she played with clay with you?” “You do lots of arty fun at home, don’t you?” Embarrassingly I have not. I get stressed when I think about mess afterwards. Those wonderful mums who bake with kids at home, do creative stuff at home, I admire them. Me, instead, laziness comes before creative mind. Bad mum. 

Nevertheless, I still do have a duty to turn a crying child into a happy one as much as possible. So I then put a very quick & easy creative-ish hat on at times. The latest hit was a centipede made out of a clingfilm tube. She loved him instantly and walks him all around the house. Although she seems to prefer climbing on me, doing a slide or horse riding. I suppose she still likes to have that sort of closeness. Mum’s energy will continue to decline. 

How do you spend a rainy day with a child? x m 

10 November 2015

Smile Maker of the Week #12

“let me hold it!” 
I couldn’t get my daughter’s hand off. 
Not surprised, because they are sooooo cute! 

Lovely three angels arrived from the Netherlands, made by Sarah Michael

I first met Sarah via my late mentor David. After then, she kindly invited me to exhibit in Clay 2 Day,  Ceramic festival in the Netherland that she runs. 
(You can view some past post about my mentor via “mentor” tag or here
(View my post about Clay 2 Day, here)

Just like Sarah herself, her work are always bright and colourful, joy to see and makes you smile. These angels are super cute and I love how she decorated them. Every Christmas, we purchase one new bauble, and we enjoy display them together each year. This year’s bauble got to be Sarah’s angel, I thought as soon as I found them in her site. But we ordered three angels to imitate us as family, and she selected three different sizes for us. Aren’t they look great together? We love them. Thank you so much, Sarah.

Sadly, Sarah lately lost her dearest friend by cancer. The idea of making angels came from her friend. 3 Euro of angel is going to be donated to Cancer Research. If you would like to see more details, please go to her site; here. xm 

21 October 2015

autumn moment

It’s the time that I love the most. It’s the time that all colours change. Here in North Yorkshire, we feel Autumn everywhere. In fact, it’s getting already much colder and I guess winter is well on its way. I dread feeling just thinking about it, so I’d better making the most of it while I can.

When I take my daughter out for a walk or outdoor play, we pick up leaves with so many different colours. I ask “what colour is it?” to her, and she responses a bit strange but in her own way. She does distinguish different colours, but she cannot say the names of colours themselves yet. For instance, she says “banana” for yellow, “mummy (mummy’s car)” for red, and “happa (leaf in Japanese)” for green at the moment! Up to now all leaves are meant to be green for her, so Autumn leaves are all new experience??

She is recovering really well from her heart operation in August. She has been returning to the nursery and I’ve been back to work for three weeks now. After op, her heart is functioning well without any problem, which obviously has made a significant impact on her health. She is much more active, full of energy than ever. Skipping an afternoon nap is another thing. She is taking my energy away! She loves a slide, climbing up the stairs and coming down independently. It was only a few months ago that she hated it because she was so frightened. She is growing up quickly. Making me feel great and a bit sad at the same time. m x

4 October 2015

‘feel-good’ little job that beaten my stress - vol.3: organising toy storage system

Today is the final of this series. Where and how do you keep children’s toys? How do you guide them to tidy up themselves? Sorting toys can be a nightmare, isn’t it? It was actually the first thing that I did after having read those “god send” tidying up books I mentioned in vol.1. (you can find the link of these books later) 

Toy storage for our case went through several stages. First we used to use IKEA’s plastic boxes with casters. We put all sort of toys, including her books, stacked them up and placed them in a corner of the living room. (photo below) 

Since my daughter started to move about, it became rather dangerous as she tended to lean on the piled boxes, obviously not easy to take things out either. Plus, giant plastic boxes in the living room did not make me relax easily even after settling her at night. So we have moved the boxes to the other room but not in her upstairs bedroom, as she would probably play downstairs for some more years. 

This room is our office / home cinema room. Usually we use this room at night, so being used by her in daytime wouldn’t be a problem. Also the living room looks tidier after plastic boxes disappeared. As my husband loves films and music, there are tons of DVDs and CDs on the wall storage in this room. I slotted 4 toy boxes under DVD wall storage and they just fit perfectly. My daughter then could reach toys safely and independently, so that was good. (photo below)

However, as she got older another issues cropped up. There weren’t enough space for her picture books. More toys of course. The pieces got smaller too, so we had to tip the box upside down to find what she wanted. I looked for a solution and decided to provide a new space for it. 

Under CD wall storage and next to the radiator, there was a reversed L shape space. (You can’t even see the radiator because of lots of cardboard boxes that we hoarded!) This was located opposite to the 4 toy boxes. In between the two walls, her “play time” rug cover just fit nicely too, so it was ideal. The method of organising small items into labeled boxes is a quite common in the nursery and children centre. It is easy for two year old to find, reach, carry to the other room to play (which she does often) and tidy up. I’ve considered all those points with several options from my favourite MUJI and IKEA. 

When I tried MUJI boxes with her, she found it difficult to pick the box up as the handle part was too small. Also they are quite a price if you buy many. Children’s storage items from IKEA was ok to carry, but she couldn’t see what’s inside and couldn’t put the box back into the drawer slot. So I searched around more and found the ultimate!

IKEA’s SAMLA box. Only £1. Clear so she can see inside. “Easy to carry” handle shape. With 50p lid, I can use as a studio storage in the future. Can’t go wrong! 

Other thing I found in IKEA was a desk foot storage. Size was just right for the space. More space for her books. Black. (the theme colour of the room) Can use as our printer storage in the future. Can’t go wrong! Measured and sketched the plan using these two items - perfect! We made a trip to IKEA just before her op. 

The problem we had when we went to IKEA was that the black shelf that we were planning to fit for her toy boxes was sold out. Well, we just have to buy wood and paint then, we thought. Then there was a “free to good home” used wood section at the exit! We found perfect black wood piece for nothing! How lucky! With a big smile on my face, we worked on her new toy storage space back home. Here, we created a new toys storage space with a book shelf!

new toy storage area!
each box has a pictured label
original boxes for larger toys and also with a pictured label
I put larger picture on the base of the box, so that she can tell 
where things go at glance from the top of many empty boxes 
when it comes to tidy up time. Hope it helps?
zippered cases are good for storing puzzles and cards
MUJI’s divider helps books from falling all over

More books can be stored. Additional coloured & numbered boxes also fit. Sabrina was happy with the result. (Probably I was the most!?) She now started to tidy up her toys, not all by herself yet but some with me, and also enjoys carrying toy boxes herself when she plays with her friends, which is rather nice to see. 

Books helped me do this were really god send. Here I would like to introduce 2 books I particulary found useful. Although both written in Japanese, there are lots of photos that you can understand their tips and techniques from. m x 

26 September 2015

‘feel-good’ little job that beaten my stress - vol.2: sorting baby clothes & making lavender bags

What do you do with your children’s old clothes? Give away to someone? Charity shop? Or throw away? Well, I was thinking about taking part of table tot sale, which used to be held at local school near our house. So I kept a whole lots of my daughter’s clothes that no longer fits and the boxes continued to be piled up in the spare bedroom. I have been rather worried if I ever manage to sort these out, but kept my eyes shut for 2 years!

The sudden but great news from my Japanese friend, who is coming to stay with us next month. Now I have a deadline to sort the clothes boxes out in the room. I quickly viewed the tot sale website and I realised that they no longer do the event in that school. That made it easier for me to clear out without hesitation, so I tackled the whole lots with my daughter. (well, that wasn’t a great idea, but she certainly enjoyed “helping” me!) Numbers of bin bag full of clothes to go to charity shop and clothes bank, except a small amount of clothes to keep for memento, such as her first shoes. All the boxes are now out of the room! Phew! (Oh, but I kept only some body suits with pretty patterns to make a patchwork blanket for her, hopefully! (when??))

Prior to her operation, I cut and hung lavender. When we got back home, there were lots of dried lavender. I thought I could make lavender bags, but did not bother spending time for cutting and sewing. So I used her socks and mittens.

Put about 5 spoonful of lavender into baby socks and tie with ribbon. Now they are in the drawers. Put about 3 spoonful of lavender into baby mittens and tie with rubber band. I hang it around the bath tap so when water runs, it smells lovely. Next day, when I turned it out into a compost container in the kitchen, lovely lavender smell spread. You can simply wash the mitten and pour some more to use it again. Simple, easy and feeling good! 

The rest of dried lavender are now stored in a beautiful porcelain jar made by Sun Kim and placed in our living room. I have had this jar for a long time but it used to be hidden somewhere high up. Now I can enjoy watching it everyday and even I can use it by simply opening the lid to smell inside when I ever get stressed! (No one hasn’t seen me doing this yet though!) 

By the way, I used her old socks for Christmas decoration two years ago. Baby socks are just too cute to throw away! (But I must stop keeping them from now on…) m x

20 September 2015

‘feel-good’ little job that beaten my stress - vol.1: making a photo album

As I mentioned on the previous post, I went through quite a stressful period for last three months. It was so long for me to wait for my daughter’s op to start with, then prolong post-op home care. She’s got extremely clingy and sensitive at hospital (though it was understandable), when we returned home I found it difficult to get things done with a child holding around my legs (literally!). Won’t last ten minutes before she cries for mummy, or annoys and throws two-year-old tantrum. Obviously she is more important than any house chores so I played with her as much as I could and only managed to prep three meals a day and daily washing, that’s about it. Other things got behind, ignored and eventually house became chaos, which led me to more stress. Because I was at home for 24-7, I could notice more and more parts of home that made me feel uncomfortable. On the top of that, I hurt my back and got ill. I became grumpy. I spoke unkindly to my family. I blamed my husband for house being untidy etc. I was the worst mum and wife, especially when most needed by my daughter. 

Then something have saved me. Got several Japanese books about “tidying up and storage system”. All written by mothers with young children. I felt connected by realising that others have similar experience. They accept they cannot do everything. They make things easier to be able to follow up by the rest of the family not just mum. I felt encouraged. So I have started a little bit of tidying up everyday. Not too long, just a short period of time a day, but that made a huge difference. I felt good - that was a big stepping forward. The more I did it, the easier it got to tidy up where used to be a full of clutter. This is an ongoing process still, but the realisation was a big step for me. 

Anyway, enough for whinging!

I would like to blog about several things I did during this stressful period that made me feel good in the end. First one was making a photo album.

Old method worked for her but not for mum! too much work!
I love taking photographs. Since my daughter was born, numbers have increased a lot. But making an album is another issue. With a little one, finding time is almost impossible. Nevertheless, I did make a photo album for my daughter’s first year, using Japanese old fashioned photo album, collaging and commenting each photos. Gosh, it took so long but she loves it. But I thought I cannot continue like this each year as it takes so much time and effort, and the big album itself takes so much space to store, so I’ve already given up! 
First photobook I made via CEWE photo world
Printing and collaging are more to my style than a digital photo album, but this time I decided to have a go. Once I searched and practiced, actually I did manage ok. How did I find such time? At hospital. When my daughter was waiting for op, during op and post op ICU period. I utilised the time that can be stressful and long to wait by making my daughter’s photo album. It was brilliant because I was watching her smile after smile on screen so I did not feel awful whilst waiting for op. Such big chunks of time that I cannot usually get at home provided enough time for me to finish last year’s album and half of this year already!

Just like collage handmade album, I could add comment of each month such as milestone and arrange photo sizes how I wanted, but did not need printing, cutting, writing etc so it went quick. I love the result and feel that I can continue this from now on. The best thing was that it made me feel so good to complete one of the accumulated jobs.

By the way, it's coming to the end of home care period. She will be back at the nursery and I will be back to work at the end of this month, which means she can finally play with others too! Hurray! m x 

16 September 2015

daughter's word

Long since last blog. It’s been rather a hard time since my daughter’s been back home from hospital, despite that I should have been happier than ever, I got a bit down with stress, illness and some changes in my mind. I did not feel like I’d blog anything. I was not patient enough for my daughter right in the middle of the terrible two, either.

We went for a walk today as the sun was out after continuous rainy days. As we walked among tall trees in the field, she said “mummy, tree so many” in Japanese! She has tendency to use English but only lately Japanese has started to come out. When I looked up, I saw a beautiful autumn sky. Instantly I felt so refreshed. Sorry for not being a good mum always. And thank you babe for being here with me. xm 

12 August 2015

good to be back home

We received the long awaited phone call two days before her op. She then had to be swapped again due to another emergency, waited and waited, but finally the operation took place. Thankfully all went well and she was out of the hospital in a week. Currently she is in the midst of ‘home care’ period, but is bouncing around like “what operation?”, in spite of rather large scar that is almost as big as my C-section. She is a tough lucky cookie. x m

22 July 2015

waiting game

Last month we finally met the surgeon who is going to proceed Sabrina’s open heart surgery. Since then she is on his waiting list and the operation was expected to be by mid July. Time is slowly passing with no phone call. Still waiting. In order to avoid catching any infection from others, she has to be pulled out from the nursery earlier than the op date. So I had to take time off work (pre op + hospitalisation + post op care at home = 9 weeks), of course with no salary yet the nursery fees still needed to be paid to some extent to keep her place. It’s already been three weeks. After all this was an “estimated” time. It could’ve been easier if we just take time off after the notification, but they could even ring us with 24 hour notice, so we had to go with guessing. It is rather frustrating and difficult time for me.

Keeping an active two year old as busy as possible during the day (so that she can (we can) have a good night sleep!), I have been taking her out to play outdoor. Unfortunately almost everywhere she can play and run around safely are full of children, even more so now with summer holiday. So early morning play at the park before anyone arrives has become my daily routine. Our garden is a savour if the weather is nice. If not, bad luck mummy, needs an early night! I take my hat off to full-time mothers.

At the end of the day, I guess this is the ultimate “mother and daughter time” for us that won’t happen once she’s grown up, so I’ll make the most of it and continue waiting. x m 

6 July 2015

guess who's two?

Finally lovely summer is here. Sabrina has just turned two. I know this is cliche to say this but tooooooo fast! Thanks to her big sister and big brother for baking the wonderful ‘anpanman’ birthday cake. I guess it’s time for me to start learning a bit of baking before she says “how come you never bake anything for me?” Her current favourite word is “No!”. Welcome terrible twos. Happy birthday my darling babe. x m