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   Remember that you don't need someone else's milestones to pave your own path.   

Writer's Block: ONTD Games Giveaway

(If you've seen my other entries, I guess there's no question of which video game series my BFF is coming from... :P)

I'd have to say...Phoenix Wright from the Ace Attorney series :)
He's got his heart in the right place, he has a good sense of humour (and is just a little goofy), he's smart in his own way, and has the honesty and integrity that I always look for in a friend.

It's a tough choice, though, because there are so many good potential friends in those characters. I love Mia for her fierceness and determination, Edgeworth - who, if he would even bother paying attention to me - is just a bit of a softy inside, Godot, who would probably too cool to be my friend, and Maya and Ema for their spunk.

But you know, if just for one day I could venture into the made-up world of Ace Attorney (and of course I'd bring my sister along :), that might just be the best thing ever.
Which video game character would you like to have as your real-life BFF? One random response will win a $60 Amazon gift card! [Full contest rules here.] Don't forget to share your favorite gamer moments on at 3 p.m. PST for Free For All Friday (FFAF).

Easy Crochet Snowman (Free Pattern)

Easy Crochet Snowman

Hopefully still in time for the Christmas season, here's a quick and easy crochet pattern I figured out to make some snowmen! They make great little gifts, and you can even make them into a Christmas tree ornament or an accessory to add to electronics, purses, bags etc. And if you want to make a bigger one, just substitute the hook and thread for a thicker hook and yarn.


 
Materials:
Size 10 Crochet Thread (white, red)
Size 2.75mm (US C2) crochet hook
Polyester stuffing material
Black felt (or another substitute for eyes)
Orange pipe-cleaner/chenille stem
Hot glue gun
Embroidery needle
Beads (or another substitute for buttons)

Finished size:
6cm tall (approximately; I gave them away before I remembered to measure them)

Abbreviations Used:
R - row
ch - chain
sc - single crochet
mm - move stitch marker
sc2tog - decrease single crochet by stitching two stitches together
FO - finish off

Head and Body
(with white crochet thread)

Head
R1 -  Ch2, 6sc in first chain, mm
R2 - 2sc in each sc around (12sc), mm
R3 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next 2 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R4 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next 3 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R5 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next 4 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R6 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R7 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R8 - *sc2tog, 1sc in next 4 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R9 - *sc2tog, 1sc in next 3 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R10 - *sc2tog, 1sc in next 2 sc, repeat from * around, mm

Body (continuing from the head; do not finish off on the head)
R1 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next stitch, repeat from * around, mm
R2 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next 2 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R3 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next 3 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R4 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next 4 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R5 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R6 - 1 sc in each sc, mm
R7 - *sc2tog, 1sc in next 4 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R8 - *sc2tog, 1sc in next 3 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R9 - *sc2tog, 1sc in next 2 sc, repeat from * around, mm
R10 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R11 - *sc2tog, 1 sc in next sc, repeat from * around, mm
R12 - *sc2tog, repeat from * around, mm
R13 - stuff and FO



Hat
(with red crochet thread)

R1 - Ch2, 6sc in first chain, mm
R2 - 2sc in each sc around (12 sc), mm
R3 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R4 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R5 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R6 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R7 - 1sc in each sc, mm
R8 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next sc, repeat from * around, mm
R9 - *2sc in first sc, 1sc in next 2 sc, repeat from * around, mm, FO

Tips

  • Stuff the head before continuing with the body
  • Stuff the hat before attaching it to the head
  • To use as a Christmas tree ornament, or just an accessory to attach somewhere, just thread some of the crochet thread through the hat and tie it together
  

My snowmen came out to be about 6cm tall. If you want to fold a little box to give them in, here's a great tutorial for a simple box I used to give mine in! Your paper should be 15cmx15cm (top) and 14.5cmx14.5cm (bottom) for a perfect fit.


Feel free to leave me comments, questions, pictures etc.! Merry Christmas! :)

(An enumerated rant written while I was studying for statistics. “Studying.”)

  1. I do not like parfaits. Especially ones that explode from the bottom of the cup as I’m walking up the stairs.
  2. Rice rolled with seaweed, cucumbers, avocado and carrots do not qualify as sushi. They just don’t. No matter how thinly the carrots are sliced.
  3. One pound of chicken wings with a side of fries and a cup of cold Nestea as an 8PM Wednesday dinner do not make me feel good. It doesn’t matter whether it’s honey garlic or barbeque sauce on them.
  4. The aforementioned barbeque sauce is spicy. Blech.
  5. The equivalent of a parfait can buy me three packs of mini Ritz sandwiches.
    …Darn it.
  6. Tim Horton’s sundried tomato something parmesan bagels are really good. Like really, really good.
  7. Tim Horton’s is always good.
  8. Teriyaki Express never has Miso Soup by the time I get there. NEVER. They hate me.
  9. I like sushi.
  10. Man, I’m tired.

Something Beautiful...



The most beautiful movie I have ever seen.

And not even because it was romantic, or because it made me cry. It was because it was so genuine and heartfelt and hope-inspiring, and it left me feeling...complete. Like there was some missing part of me, from all these months of feeling discontent and a little aimless, that was filled up again.

Maybe I'm just tired of the charades I see everywhere, of people playing the parts of what they think they should be, people wandering everywhere, taking each step in their lives just to go to the next. I'm tired of all these wimpy people who can't take a little suffering in their lives, of people who don't appreciate the value of hard work, of people who don't stop to take a look around and love what they have.

In the words of Margo Roth Spiegelman (Paper Towns by John Green): "All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm...Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail." I've been running around, trying to find that meaningful spark in me again, but it's being drowned in tiredness and passivity, and the pettiness and superficiality I've grown exhausted of.

Perhaps I needed something to wake me up again. So thank you Nicholas Sparks, thank you Mandy Moore and Shane West, for rekindling that. And even though it was a fictional work, it revived my faith in the world. (And all those Christian messages and advocating for chastity was the icing on the cake.) So I will keep fighting and working to make the world a better place, even if it's falling apart at them seams, because I still believe that the good will shine in the end.
With the recent shooting incident in the Philippines, our Chinese/Hong-Kong community seemed to become particularly connected through the media. Here, we were especially tied to the Chinese-Canadian Leung family, with one surviving mother and her son, who is still in a coma.

I was planning to make my next chapter of Yours to Keep (which is currently in progress) a tribute to all those still waiting for a loved one to return, after being reminded by this tragedy.

But it was during lunch with my grandparents this afternoon that it really struck home. Apparently, the Leung family used to be our next-door neighbours back at our old house, over 10 years ago.

My grandparents recognized the family in all the photos over the media, since my grandparents had lived in our house before moving out when we came to Canada. My grandmother especially remembered that their son was only one year older than I was, and instantly realised who the victims were. After a lot of talking over lunch, my parents began to recall our neighbours (we moved in only briefly before our neighbours returned to Hong Kong). My dad most vividly remembers that they had a pre-moving garage sale, and we still have some of the items that we bought from them back then. One of those items happens to be the bed I sleep on every night.

Sometimes the world is interconnected in such strange ways, and it awakens us to how close everything is. We're often led to believing that our lives will always be calm and peaceful, but we can never know what comes before us.

So to all the families in the world who have been torn apart by tragedy, to all those who are still waiting and hoping for the day that someone will come back to them, may they be given strength, courage and continued perseverance to pull through the difficult times of their lives.



A Deluge of Photos (micro-mini version)

I spent last week at daily miniature clay lessons for three hours a day, sitting at  a small table with a group of other kids. My shoulders and back ached, and everything I made was super, super tiny, but it was so much fun. It's definitely a class I'll take again when I have time.

But, a picture is worth a thousand words, so my photos are worth much more than a page-ful of rant.

Welcome to my French bakery ~

My cakes! They took me the longest because I had to make each little piece individually, wait for it to dry, cut it, arrange everything and then glue it together.

A close-up of my cakes, because I'm extra proud of them. As for the size, these ones are only a teensy bit larger than my thumb nail. (And they're the biggest things I made.)


Here are the tarts (They're not as impressive, but man, was the cream tiring to make. You should have seen me going at it with those tweezers.)



And here are my buns and bread :)
Baguettes in the corner, creamed horns, sesame buns, croissants, hot cross buns/Asian pineapple buns and little pizzas. (I think only the Chinese people will get the Asian pineapple bun-bit :P)



And someone's buying a croissant!

And here is my sister's delicious fruit and veggie stand! (You can see my French bakery and notebook in the background...oops.)

Some close-ups :)





All those colours make me so happy :)

A little older, and much happier

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


I remember that in past years, I always felt disappointed on my birthday. Smack in the middle of the summer holidays, I sat at home, spending the day like every other, upset that my birthday didn't feel special at all. There were times when I wished I had a birthday party, or got to do something fun that I chose, or got some present that would make my day. In the end, it was really myself making me miserable on my birthday. I was such a spoiled kid.

This year, I may not be older and wiser, but I'm definitely older and happier. I guess that all the things that I've gone through this year has made me realise what's really important to me. From small family crises to putting down some of the worse childhood memories, to finally finding my circle of friends, this year has been a longer journey than I'd thought. But I'm glad for it.

I spent my birthday simply, with my family. In the morning, we went to IKEA to pick up some toilet scrubs and shelf dividers (I know. Of all the things to buy at IKEA, that's what we went for) and then headed over to meet my grandparents and eldest uncle (on my dad's side). I was so surprised that they remembered my birthday - I guess the date is hard to forget - 08/08, and 8's are lucky in Chinese culture.

I was most touched by my uncle, actually. My uncle is really quiet and introverted, usually just hanging in the background of our family gatherings. I know he struggles a bit - he seems to be changing jobs a lot, and I always think he's lonely. Now that my other uncle has moved out with his wife, my eldest uncle is left to live with and take care of my grandparents.
A couple of months ago, he lost his job and declined invitations to our family gatherings. I wrote him a card and told my grandmother to give it to him, saying that I kept him in my thoughts and prayers, and hoped that I'd see him next time. The next time we visited, he seemed to have opened up a lot - he'd prepared a booklet of baking recipes (he works as a baker/cook) because he knew I was interested and told me a bunch of baking tips.
A couple of weeks ago, I asked my grandmother where she'd bought the hand sanitizer that she lent me. I guess my uncle overheard, and on my birthday, he bought my sister and I a big pack of it. I know it sounds like a simple present, but I was touched by the thought behind it and the fact that he'd taken the time to remember such a small thing I'd said.

So our family ate out twice that day with my grandparents and uncle, and in between, we helped clean up my grandparents' yard. Maybe gardening and sweeping isn't the ideal birthday celebration, but I didn't mind, and I was perfectly happy with spending the day with my family.

When we got home that night, my dad and sister sat in my room - my dad reinforcing my cardboard shelf dividers and my sister painting them. (Those are the same dividers, just turned around)

Don't they look great? My sister's amazing :)

As for everyone else who made my day with their birthday wishes, here they are:
  • My best friend Dan called the day before, knowing that he'd be going away to Michigan for a family trip. When I bumped into his parents church, they also wished me a happy birthday, to my surprise. (He told them???)
  • My friend Henry, with whom I've been having a shaky friendship with this past year. But he remembered my birthday and called that morning and we had a short conversation before I left the house.
  • Vi, of course, who sent me a very sweet email that made me smile all over. (And I'll see you this weekend, Vi!)
  • Owen, with an overly apologetic email for not having replied in so long to my email - in which he bashes himself for being so late, reassures me that he did not forget my birthday and asks for my forgiveness, convinced that I'm superbly mad at him. He also typed up his email on Word so that he could change the colours to write "Happy Birthday." Now how can I be mad after that?
  • Kare, who sent an email and called (mainly to ask if she could come over). But yes Kare, you got the date right (as you ask every year) :)
  • My aunt in Hong Kong, who despite the time difference, always remembers and calls on my birthday.
  • JJ, who's in India, and with whom I've been emailing for the past while. He wished me a happy belated birthday and hopes that I did something for my birthday, especially "a romantic weekend with my husband."
  • Speaking of my husband, Im forgot my birthday. Im, I forgive you this time, but if it happens again, I'm filing for divorce! (I'm kidding. I really don't mind :) I still love you, Pumpkin~
  • Age, who apparently called on my birthday (with his girlfriend, I think, if that's who he means by "we"), but no one was home.
I hope I didn't forget anyone...

So despite there being no cake or presents, I feel so much happier this year. I'm glad that I've finally realised the important things to me and that I'm finally content :)

And to all the people that keep the smile on my face, I want to send you all a big hug <3

---
BORING BLURB ABOUT HARMONY
---
Oh, right. I forgot about that.

After a month of being stuck in a quiet, timid, antisocial class, I finally managed to get a peep out of some of them and make some friends. 90% of them were younger than me though and the sad thing was, we only started warming up to one another the last few days of class.
Amusingly enough, I only ever managed to befriend the guys, save one girl who sat behind me, but missed the last few classes. The other girls stayed silent, speaking in nearly-silent voices only when called upon by the teacher. The other funny thing I noticed was that the room had been divided into all the girls on one side of the room, and all the guys on the other side of the aisle.
Except for me. I didn't even do it purposely - I just sat on the guys' side without even realising...

As for the exam, it felt less tricky than the mock exams we did, and I had an hour left to check over. (I bet I still missed a load of mistakes, though). But in the last half hour, I realised that I wrote my melodies in F+ instead of D-, and frantically changed them just in time. They were lousy melodies, though, and I didn't have the chance to check them over.
I just hope I pass. Please, God, I don't want to redo this course -.-
(And on the harmony exam, it's actually possible to lose more marks than you can gain. But I don't think anyone's that awful...)

Oh well. It's over, and I'm glad :)

Happy Birthday, Vi!

I’m 4 and she’s 6, and it’s my first sleepover ever. It’s not for fun – my parents are at the hospital, and my sister’s somewhere between swimming in my mother’s uterus and seeing the world for the first time. Somehow, the ticking clock unnerves me, the mattress feels different, and the shadows of the room are too foreign. I start to cry. In the darkness, a figure tiptoes over, sits on the edge of my bed and hands me a tissue.
“Don’t cry. It’ll be okay.”

I’m 6 and she’s 8, and we’re playing Barbies in her basement for possibly the millionth time. Her parents call her upstairs, and minutes later, she returns with tears leaking down her cheeks. It’s the first time I’ve seen her cry. Not knowing what else to do, I scribble down a message and stick the note into the Barbie mailbox. She takes it out and reads it, and smiles at me through her tears.
Don’t cry. It’ll be okay.

I’m 8 and she’s 10, and for an assignment, I’m told to make a cube illustrating the most important people in my life. I cram three of my school friends onto one face so that she can have her own, and crown her the nicest and most generous friend I have. When she comes over, I hide it in my closet, afraid to let her see my artistically challenged portrait of her.

I’m 7 and she’s 9, and our parents who are chatting downstairs, tell us, “Five more minutes!” Knowing what “five more minutes” always means, her brother, my sister, she and I dash up to the computer to start a game of 3rd grade Cluefinders. Two hours later, we finish it.
Our parents again holler up the stairs, “Five more minutes,” and we exchange a glance, wondering if we’ll finish a movie in time.

I’m 11 and she’s 13, and it’s been at least two years since our families last got together. The door opens, and I panic when I see a girl with new glasses, braces and highlights in her hair, looking completely different from the girl I used to know. I nearly bail out of there, thinking that she’ll find me too boring and childish, and that all those childhood memories will be ruined forever.
Then she turns to me, grins, and says something I can’t remember now, and that horrible feeling in my stomach vanishes. As we chatter excitedly about everything that’s been happening over the last while, I forget that those two years ever came between us.

I’m 14 and she’s 16, and we’re sitting in her room as dinner is being prepared for our family get-together. We discuss anything and everything even though we have no friends, school nor extracurriculars in common. And then suddenly, all those teenage secrets come spilling out from both of us, as if we’ve been confiding in each other for our whole lives.

I’m 14 and a few months and she’s 16 and a half, and in a conversation with one of my friends, she comes up. I refer to her as my “family friend,” but I really think it’s more fitting to replace those two words with “big sister.”

I’m 15 and she’s 17, and when she announces that she’s going away for university next year, I feel a lump in my throat. With that sinking feeling in my stomach, I worry that I’ve just lost one of my best friends.

I’m nearly 16 and she’s just turned 18, and I confess how worried I am of the changes that her going away will bring. She smiles and me and tells me not to worry. “I won’t ever change. I promise you that.” And I’m comforted, because I know that I can always trust in what she says.

I’m 16 and she’s 18, and I’m sitting in the passenger seat as I watch the steering wheel spin smoothly in her hands. Half of me wonders if this could possibly be the same girl I used to play Barbies with, while the other half wonders if this will still be us, five, ten, twenty years from now.

I’m 16 and a month, and she’s 18 and a bit more, and she’ll be hours away this time next week.
I give her a hug and wish her the best, and she reminds me to email her. And I look at the girl I’ve known my entire life and realize that no matter how far apart we are, some things will never change.
And as I wipe my wet eyes, I tell myself, “Don’t cry. You know everything will be okay.”

And I imagine that when I’m 78 and she’s 80, we’ll be sitting around somewhere with dentures in our mouths, discussing everything important and unimportant, and all the things in between. And we’ll still laugh at dumb jokes, reminisce some old memories, share our embarrassing moments and enjoy each other’s company.

Because in life, some things come and some things go, but some things last forever.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So to my best friend, confidante and “big sister”, I hope you have (or had, when you read this) an absolutely spectacular birthday, fit for someone as special as yourself :) (And I know – this completely sucked, but I am hunting for something better for you that I can give in person.)

I love you, Vi :) Happy Birthday!

A Week of Madness From My Parents

Sunday

It’s just past noon on Sunday, and we’re sitting at the table slowly sipping drinks, reluctant to end lunch. My mother sighs. “I don’t want to work on my assignment.”
“I don’t want to study for Math,” I echo her.

We shuffle lethargically to gather up the dishes. I roll up my sleeves. “I can wash,” I offer.
“No, no,” she says. “You can go work.”
“No really,” I tell her. “I can do it.”

She gives me the mom-look. “I’m trying to put off working, you know.”
A smile spreads across my face. “So am I.”

She sighs, and with a pout characteristic of a first-grader, she relents. “Fine. You can wash the dishes…”

Monday

“You’re not going to school tomorrow?”
“Yeah…since most people are at home studying for exams anyways, the teachers won’t teach anything.”
“Isn’t that considered skipping school?”
“Well, technically, yes.”
My mother cheers. “That means you get to sleep in tomorrow! I’ll call in ‘sick’ for you.”

Tuesday

I glance at the clock as I wrap up my assignment. 9:45. Yes, I think to myself. I can go to bed early.

My thoughts are interrupted by music coming from the DS in my mom’s hand, who has suddenly entered the room.

“I’m playing Zookeeper!” she announces loudly, and minutes later, my dad joins her, plopping down on my bed too.
“Where’s the other stylus?” he asks, and they start a game, yelping every time the timer blares a warning signal.
“Noooo!” My mother cries. “We’re running out of time! Quick, Phil, where’s the help button?”
I roll my eyes. “For the millionth time, it’s right there on your right.”

They level up several times like that, and every time I hear the warning signal, I chant in my head. Lose, lose, lose. I want to sleep.

They finally run out of time, and my dad then cheers, “Yes! High score!”

Finally, I think.

“New game!” my dad announces.

“Oh, no, no, no,” I tell them, dragging them out. “You guys can play somewhere else now. I’m going to bed.”

Wednesday

My mom glances in the rear-view mirror, her hands clenching the steering wheel tightly.

“You know, every time I see cars really far behind me, I feel like they’re going to catch me, so I have to get away.”
“You know you’re not in an action movie, right?” I raise an eyebrow at her.
“But it’s so exciting! When they’re stopped by a red light, I get this feeling of relief.”
I shake my head. “You’re so weird, mom.”

Thursday

“Phil! You still haven’t picked a present!” My dad complains, referring to his promise of buying us all gifts if he got his new job.
“Um...uh…sticky notes,” I tell him.
“What? You can’t pick that!”
“Why not? I want sticky notes.”
“But it’s too cheap!”
“…You want me to pick something expensive? Fine, a notebook, then.”

He frowns. “I’ll be expecting a proper answer from you, latest tomorrow,” and he leaves the room.

This is homework, now???

Friday

Our family is watching TV, my mom sitting in her chair, reading magazines to “expand her English vocabulary.” My dad is lifting weights in the corner, and my sister and I are immersed in the program.

The guy on the screen suddenly swears profusely, and my sister and I both cringe at the presence of our parents.

My mom looks up. “Hey girls, what does that mean?” And she repeats the vulgar phrase of the man on television.

My sister and I exchange a glance. “Well, mom…it’s uh, kind of hard to explain…”

Saturday

We’re taking our usual after-dinner walk around the neighbourhood, and we end up at the newly built community centre, with a huge playground and waterpark hidden behind.

My sister and I stand awkwardly at the side, trying not to get in the way of the numerous kids running here and there.

My dad walks straight to the monkey bars, swings himself up and starts doing horizontal chin-ups, hanging from the bars. A little girl stands at the side watching in awe.
“This place is perfect for exercising!” he announces.
The moment he gets off, the little girl grabs the bars, attempting to copy my father.
“Look at what you did, dad… Now she’s going to be sad because she can’t do it,” I shake my head jokingly at him.

My mom spots a boy twirling on a spinning disk, his hands on a rotating wheel above his head. 
“Oh, cool!” she exclaims. “He looks like a ballerina!”
When the boy gets off, my mom tries to imitate his spinning gracefulness, but is met by pure failure. “It won’t spin,” she complains.
“I don’t think you’re holding the handle at the right angle,” I tell her. “You’re too tall.”
“Oh…” And she looks as disappointed as the little girl who couldn’t do chin-ups.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My parents, I’ve decided, are crazy.

I guess I’m just a chip off the old block.

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