Wednesday, December 09, 2020

One Year Work Anniversary

 Today marks one year since I joined my new company as a scientist. The memory of my first week is still fresh. And little did I or everyone expect that in 4 months, I would be working from home until today. It feels weird. Time passed so fast, yet so slow. It felt like both. 

In the past 10 months, I went through an emotional and psychological roller coaster, mostly caused by two major changes in my life; new job after 19 years, and first work-from-home experience. But I cannot thank my new company enough as I was entirely supported throughout the time. 

I had a tumultuous ride at the start of the lockdown and working from home, starting with shock of sudden change, then gradual acceptance of the new situation. Then anxiety and moments of darkness hit me on some days every week. It was an eerie feeling of hopelessness, and it felt dark and lonely. Just totally negative. And it wasn't something I could share even with the husband because it would worry him. Even I was worried I might do something stupid. 

I think it had something to do with my new role. A lot of times, I felt I was not good enough. Although my job wasn't stressful, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform. There were presentations which I had never done before in my previous job and in this new role, it is something you have to get used to. Actually I wasn't scared of presenting, but I was very stressed about building the content to present. There were so many details about the projects that I wasn't familiar with, and I had to gather my sources and information remotely. It wasn't easy, but somehow, I managed to pull it off. I prayed a lot too during these times. Prayed for wisdom, prayed for strength.

Then, gladness and gratitude followed. I felt extremely blessed that I still had a job during this time, that my boss and my company are taking good care of me, that I get to have an extra couple of hours sleep everyday now and I get to be a full time mom for the first time. I could do things for my kids that I usually don't get to do like settle their lunch, be more involved in their school work, cook dinner and generally just be at home with them. Spending more time with the husband has also brought our relationship closer. His golf/ drinks/bike outings reduced considerably due to the new norm so he was home a lot more. We'd watched drama series before bedtime, now that I could because I get extra sleep time. It's amazing how much time I earn back when I don't commute daily to Singapore for work. And that extra time converts to more well-deserved sleep. Just wow.

Demotivation was another challenge I faced during this time. Being away from the physical work site for so long had made me lost my core purpose in my role. I felt useless, redundant and a burden, which added to the new-job-pressure stress I was having. I developed an aversion towards my work. I wanted nothing to do with science. On many days, I wanted so badly to quit and settle for a simple job here. I wanted a sense of permanence, not questioning myself like "When can I stop working in Singapore, how long should I work in Singapore, when will the border open?" I was sick of all the uncertainties and what-ifs. I wanted something solid here that I can finally say "Here you are, you can do this for the rest of your life now and not worry about border crossing problems anymore" You have no idea how strangulating it is.

So comes December, exactly a year now. Things are slowing down, colleagues are taking leaves, presentation stress is on hold, time to reflect and time to relax. It doesn't seem so bad after all. 

It really felt like riding a roller coaster for the first time, not knowing what laid ahead and after whooshing through with my eyes shut tight, I emerged on a smooth and slow glide towards the end of the year.

I think I can finally breathe.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Just me... ranting

I think I'm no longer Pisces. 

Pisceans are dreamers. I've stopped dreaming and started worrying about everything. Life, quite suddenly, has become a dark and lonely place; the real world. In this world, my zodiac sign is called Sandwich.

Yep, this is the time we get familiar with terms like sandwich generation. It is a generation of people, usually in their 30s, 40s or 50s, who are responsible for both bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents. I would like to add that this generation is also responsible for taking care of themselves and planning for their own aging support.

I bet my parents were once in the sandwich generation. The great depression also happened during that time. But how different was it compared to now? I'm really curious.

Though I can't presume that it was easier for our parents to cope, I do believe there are more challenges for the sandwich generation today, some of which are digital- and financial-wise.

On top of being a sandwich generation, if you fall into these two categories like me, I want to give you a hug.

1. You are an only child

2. Your parents are separated

And if you fall further into these categories, I want to give you a big hug.

3. You are the only one with stable income.

4. You have a dream of starting a business from your passion/hobby but cannot, because of point number 3.

AND, if you fall further into this category summore, I want to give you the biggest hug.

5. You are a woman. Wife, mother, daughter, all-in-one combo.

Some are giggling, "Ha ha, you so funny". But I know some are crying after reading this. Because it really feels dark and lonely, this world. 

Sounds so negative doesn't it? I'm afraid I'd be reduced to a grumpy old lady, cursing the world. GAH!

I know there are so many people in worse situation than me, and that I should be very blessed instead of feeling burdened, but the fact that I AM feeling burdened is something I should acknowledge. 

Acknowledge, accept and leverage.

I will be back on the leverage part. Till then, I'll sulk.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Embroidered Pendant Charm

 Bought some pendant accessories years ago. As a proud craft hoarder, I couldn't be more excited to finally make these... heheh.

Here's some zen pictures...

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Of worries and anxieties

I didn't really talk much about how things were during the Movement Control Order ever since it was implemented, and my emotional state until now.

I embarked on a new role, in a new company in December last year and within the first week, I reported peace and joy. I was free from the negativity and lack of motivation from my previous workplace. I was extremely lucky to get the new job. There was renewed hope in the security of my future.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic induced our MCO. I was allowed to work from home since then. It was a new experience, not only for myself. So I shouldn't feel alone right. As I slowly discovered after getting used to working from home, I don't like it!

I don't like to formally work in my own home. This is because my home is associated with relaxation and artistic creativity, a place I let go of my formal work. But now, the two contrasting elements have to merge and I just can't accept it. I thought it is a matter of getting used to it, but it has been 6 months and I'm starting to have aversions to science research and to my craft hobbies. My lifelines!

I started to feel stressed at the end of April. That stress was not related to working from home I think. It had to do with being not knowledgeable enough for my role. Not good enough. I didn't like 'studying' all the time now. I just want a routine support-based job where I focus on earning a stable income work at site, and can totally let go when I'm at home. Now, I can't totally let go of work at home because my home is my workplace.

Then I started to have temptations to quit working in Singapore. Again. I just wanted to cut it. Waiting for updates on the Johor-Singapore border was killing me. It was another stress factor. If I work in JB, this wouldn't even be in my worry list, which was growing by the day.

I was demotivated. I needed a sense of permanence. Something which I can do for the rest of my life without worrying, even if it takes a huge paycut. I imagined how blissful I would be if I have a job here in JB. No more Causeway jam angst, no more daily long commuting hours.

Sometime in May, I was subtly hit with moments of darkness and despair, and also anxiety mini-attacks. And occasionally I would get hit, stronger each time. But I would still have my usual good inspirational mood in between.

Those moments of darkness and despair was something I had felt before when I was working in my previous company. But this time it is a bit different, perhaps coupled with the uncertainty related to the pandemic. It is a very scary feeling I tell you. I couldn't control it. I couldn't shake it off. It just clung to me like the black venom. I was paralysed with fear at some point. There was no peace in my heart, only anxieties. Now, I feel better, hopefully with less moments of darkness. But I still feel a background anxiety which is I can't get rid off.

So why don't I just quit if it is making me so unhappy?
You can probably guess right. The main reason for working in Singapore is the exchange rate, not to mention, more job opportunities than JB. And financial security is important to me at this time.
I became obsessed about settling my home and car loan in the fastest possible time. It will take years, not months, and I am getting impatient and frustrated. This is an unhealthy relationship with money, isn't it. We can never be financially independent. Besides the loans, there are still basic monthly expenses to take care of. But if I could settle my most major loans, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and seriously consider looking for a job in JB then! OH I CAN'T HARDLY WAIT!!

There is hope. And there is prayers. I will keep going until I can't go on no more.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Bleach Shibori Method & Repurposing A Baggy Thai Fisherman Wrap-Tie Pants

I bought a baggy fisherman wrap-tie pants from a night market in Chiangmai some 6 or 7 years ago.

I wore it ONCE in front of the mirror, for 30 seconds. And it never saw light ever since.

And recently, I literally dissected it to make a pair of home shorts which I ran out of during the pandemic Movement Control Order. Home shorts, and other goodies.

It's a pity I didn't take a picture of its original state.

Here are the 'babies'.

From ONE humongous pants! Of course, they have to be supplemented with other fabrics for lining.

Top part of the original baggy pants was deep indigo and I love this colour. I created patterns on it using bleach.

I used a firm-bristle brush to create crosses on the fabric

For making dots, I used a cotton bud.

And for making smaller dots, I used the top blunt end of a wooden toothpick.

The bleach shibori result.

The final products..

Reversible hobo bag

Feels so satisfied that I made full use of the fabric of the pants I never wore. In fact I got more pretty goodies out of it!

Monday, June 01, 2020

DIY Monstera Leaf Art

I couldn't find a monstera leaf art print that I really liked. So I DIYed one! Luckily I already had the IKEA picture frame (FISKBO 40x50cm) and the artificial leaf (SMYCKA) and the leaf fits nicely within the frame.

Next, I bought an art paper and cut it to the size of the frame.

Then I traced the leaf on the paper.

I had several colours of these Speedball block printing ink for 10 years or so and they still work well. 
I painted the leaf. It was practically like a colouring project, nothing fancy or difficult.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Weekend Baking Adventure : The Hacked Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie

I'm not pro at baking, so when I hear there's a tried and tested recipe testimonial, I go for it, especially when it is my favourite Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie. I remember the first time I smelled the aroma of the freshly baked cookies from a Famous Amos kiosk somewhere in a Singapore mall. It was heavenly and ever since then I'd follow the scent and buy a pack of 200g of cookies wherever there is a Famous Amos kiosk. At that time, it was only available in Singapore, and not in JB. Now, I can say they are in almost all the malls in JB.

When this post went viral on social media recently, I knew I had to try it.

The verdict? It didn't produce the familiar aroma but it does really taste like the real thing. SO. GOOD. The boys approve.

Here's the recipe:
  • 250g butter
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sodium bicarbonate/baking soda
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • Almond nibs (optional)
1. In a bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, vanilla essence and egg. Mix well. 
2. Add the vegetable oil. Mix well.
3. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients ie. flour, corn flour, baking soda and baking powder, and then add into the 'wet' batter. Mix well. (I learnt that baking soda/sodium bicarbonate is different from baking powder! I read about it here)
4. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
5. Refrigerate cookie dough for at least 30min.
6. Preheat oven at 150°C, coat baking tray with some butter.
7. Roll cookie dough into small balls and place on the tray with some distance from each other.
8. Bake for 20 min until cookies turn golden brown. (I modified to 160°C for 30min)


Monday, May 11, 2020

Handmade Face Masks

I made more masks.

Kid's masks

Stay safe!

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Matching Top and Face Mask

Just end of last year, I went to the Festival Kraf Johor held every year next to the Angsana Mall and I bought these pretty fabric. 

Now made into matching boxy top and face mask.

There is enough to make a tote bag too, and pouches! This is going to be the new trend...

Sunday, May 03, 2020

How to Sew a Cup Style Face Mask with Pocket Sleeve for Disposable Filter - Easy Tutorial

Here are the instructions on how to sew a cup-style face mask with pocket sleeve to insert disposable filter pads. I did not include nose wire as I felt the shape fits quite nicely if it is snug and tight enough. If you would like to include nose wires, you can check out CraftPassion blog, which is where I got the template from.

Here we go!

First, download the template from here and print it in actual size. The template includes sizes for men, women, young child (7-12 yrs old) and small child (3-6 yrs old).
Cut out the size you want. If you're going to make a few, I suggest cutting a fabric template so it is easier to use. Here, I use the downloaded template but extended 2cm more at the straight side. This extension is for making a loop for the elastic cord. Also, allow an extra 0.5cm for hem, so that means the fabric you cut is slightly bigger than this template.

Cut out 2 extended size for outer (front) layer, and 2 original size for inner layer. Do take note of the right side wrong side of the fabric, they have to mirror each other.

Now, place the fabric with right sides on each other and sew the curve edge.

Then sew a hem on one side of the inner fabric. Only one side.

Open up the outer layer that was sewn at the curve. Press the seam allowance on one side and topstitch near the seamline.

Looks like this after topstitching. Repeat this for the inner layer.

Now place the inner layer on top of the outer layer with right sides facing each other. Sew along the top and bottom.

Looks like this on the other side.

Turn it inside out.

Press down the seams flat and topstitch near the seam lines.

Looks like this after topstitching the top and bottom seam lines.

On the side with the hem which was done earlier, fold the the raw edge over...

...and fold again so that it meets the hem nicely . This is called double-fold and this creates the loop for the elastic cord.

Alternatively, you can attach the cord and sew it in directly. If it's time to change the cord when it has become stretchy, you can unpick the re-sew a new cord. 

Here, I double-fold with the cord inside so I don't have to go thread in the cord later.

Topstitch the fold as close as the side as possible. This is to create a bigger loop to thread in a new cord in future.

Repeat the double-fold kung-fu for the other side.

Ta-da! Now you can adjust the elastic cord length according to your preference. Other than going around the ears, you can loop through a strap or twill to tie around the head. I find this more comfortable if you're wearing the mask for long periods of time as it won't strain the ears.

You can insert a disposable filter pad or a dried wet wipe as a non-woven layer for protection.

The hem side is where you insert the filter pad.

 I bought the elastic cord and filter pad from Lazada.

Enjoy your mask-making adventure!