Friday, July 25, 2008


Four Leaf Clover

Aside from the Camellia, the Clover is another favorite motif at Pastel b. cards. The four-leaflet clover is a variation of the common three-leaf clover. According to superstition, four-leaf clovers bring good luck to those who find them. The rarity of the four-leaf variety probably explains it, because approximately only 1 in every 10,000 clovers has the four-leaflet form.

According to legend, each leaf of the clover is symbolic: the first is for hope, the second is for faith, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck. Legend has it that if a lady hangs a four-leaf clover on her door, the next man to who comes in will become her husband. Believe it or not....
I have chosen the Clover as Gift Card motif coz I want the gifts to carry the connotation of the clover, which will bring hope, faith, love and luck to the giver and receiver alike.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's all relative...

I heard an answer today that I find extremely amusing. It goes like this. A mom asks her two-year old, "how old are you?", to which the toddler replies, "two old".

The little boy's logic being he is two years old, and since he was asked "how old", he completed the answer as "two old". I was bawling with laughter after I heard the story, because what I heard was the toddler saying he was "too old", instead of "two old".

I think that the little boy has made a point and they are words of wisdom. Parents want their children to grow up fast and healthy. As teens, we can't wait to be grown up enough, so we could be free of our parents' grasp. As grown-ups, we feel embarrassed when we or our friends acted "childishly". Funnily enough, when we see a jovial granny, we would remark how "youthful" she looks or how she is still "young at heart".
The moral of the story is, should we put so much emphasis as we do now in our societal convention to growing up and lose all our childhood traits or remain a child at heart, to retain our curiosity and sense of wonderment in life. How old is "too old" then?

The Art of Doing Nothing

What has happened to leisure, lounging around, doing nothing and simply enjoying life as it is? With the protestant work ethic instilled in us for centuries, work is good and achievement is the ultimate goal in life. Leisure is reduced to being lazy and reserved for the privileged.

With so many distractions in life and endless chores, it is difficult to be still. We are always running off to get something done. Doing nothing is a waste of time or a luxury that most can't afford.

In the midst of this rat race, have we ever pondered the meaning of it all? Personally, life-changing decisions often come when there is time to reflect, to be still, to be grateful. The ah-ha moments don't come when we are busy, frustrated and stressed. It takes doing nothing, to savor the moment and simply "be". In our times, doing something, anything, has become the norm, and doing nothing has become an obsolete art.


"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." ~ Albert Camus

The times we invoke the power of prayer are usually in our hours of desperation, when we surrender to faith as the last resort. The times when we feel out of control are the scariest, because we have reached our limit and there is nothing more we could do. However, it is when we let go and "let God", that miracles happen.

Faith gives us strength and with this new found strength, we find courage to overcome our limits. In spite of the death of winter, we found an "invincible summer" in us. Humans are frail when we face seemingly insurmountable odds, but Faith, Hope and Love give us the strength to overcome the impossible. When the worst is over, we discover that we have become a bigger person. This is the best time to give thanks and pray that we continue to keep our faith and grow.

Books, Art, Coffee Inc.

The Baci Lounge is a concept bookstore located in Auckland, New Zealand, and is the brainstorm of Sharad Paul. Paul is foremost a surgeon in Auckland, but doubles as an author as well. "Baci" means "Kiss" in Italian, and he wanted the Baci Lounge to be a place where you can read leisurely with a good cup of coffee or wine.

The decor is inviting to young writers and book lovers alike. There are comfortable armchairs, tables and booths to read to your heart's delight. There is a wide range of books, with a section devoted to Indian literature, where Paul spent some years in. If you visit the site, you will find that a part of the profits will be dedicated to literacy programs. Beisdes being a cool place to hang out, you will be doing a good cause to promote literacy. What a double delight!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cat in the bag

The weather has been really strange this summer, raining almost every day. The rains we are talking about are not the soft pitter-patter on the window pane that lulls you to sleep ones. These are the mad cats-and-dogs-down-pours that no umbrella could brave.

I was caught without an umbrella one day and were I compact enough, this would be exactly what I'll have for a makeshift mackintosh. Tant pis, I was drenched from head to toe. I could even pour water out from my shoes....

Monday, July 7, 2008

Close to Heart

Today marks the 8th month of Kobe's passing. It was midnight of Novemeber 7, 2007 that Kobe has left us. He was only three and it was really sudden. I guess it was the dying young part and not knowing what has happened that makes it hard to have closure.
Kobe is a mini Yorkie. When he was 3 months old, he started having black outs and seizures. After taking him to many vets, we found out that he has a shunt. He had 2 major operations when he was one. It was a dangerous procedure because the shunt is very close to his major arteries. Moreover, the vet warned that Kobe might not wake up from the anaesthetics, since they need to heavily sedate him, but he only weighs 1.2kg.
The operation was successful and Kobe started to put on weight. His maximum weight was 1.92kg and all of us, including the vets are so happy to see his bright eyes and his oh so shiny button nose.

As Kobe got stronger and healthier, his personality started to bloom. He was a very sick puppy up till the surgery and the aftermath of nursing him back to health. Kobe now assumes the role of patrol guard and alpha male at home, though he is the smallest in build.
When everybody is ready for bed, Kobe would patrol the house and go to each room to see if everyone is ok. He would do a few rounds of this, and you could hear his tiny steps pattering across the floor. When he is totally satisfied that everything is in order, he would go to his "cave", heave a mighty sigh, and sleep.
Since Kobe is the last to sleep, he is a late riser. Dayee, the cockatoo, will yell for her food at 6:30 every morning. It never fails, even on weekends. When we start to stir, Ashley would follow us and keep meowing to tell us that she is really hungry and more than ready for her breakfast.
B-chan would still be snoring behind my bed, but when he hears us opening the fridge and making toast, he would come running. Kobe would still be in his cave and he would look out and watch the din. If he feels like having breakfast, he would come out. Usually he would make a U-turn and sleep some more.
When he emerges from his cave, the hair on his face would be flat on one side and his expression would always be "what's going on?" Like a lot of toy breeds, Kobe is picky about his food. We would try to give him food that he likes and not force him. Soon, he took a liking to boiled chicken breast. We are all too happy to see him eat by himself, because we had to force feed him when he was ill.
When he was recovering, we had to make a porridge like nutrient pack recommended by his vet. We had to use the syringe to feed him and he hates it. We hated it, too, because looking at it, it must tastes like glue. But back then, it's the only thing he could eat.

Kobe likes going out. We took him to the Peak a couple times and he would be running on the grass and his big ears would be flapping with his pink tongue out. What a happy smile. When we take regular walks in the neighborhood, everyone would greet him and B-chan, and Kobe would give his head, head, yeah, not hand, hand, to everyone who pats him. He would just put his little head on your palm and let you scratch his head and neck. The boys are loved by everyone.

The morning after that dreaded night, I went to the vet down the block to tell him that Kobe had passed away. He was limp when we were rushing to emergency in the taxi. Since we have been taking Kobe for check ups with the two vets regularly, they know of his condition. However, they were still very surprised by the suddenness of this, because Kobe has grown healthy. Everyone at the clinic was sad.
When we walked home slowly with B-chan, everyone asks us where Kobe is, and why we are not walking him. We told them that Kobe is not with us anymore. Everyone was shocked and saddened. We retold the story for many weeks as we bump into neighbors asking why Kobe is not walking with B-chan.

I believe that that Kobe, who is mini in size, but big in personality, has captured the hearts of many people. We have kept some hair of Kobe's along with all his clothes and toys. I still feel very sad remembering today is the eighth month of his passing and there is no closure still. I still don't know why he has left and when this hole in my heart will be patched. One thing I know is that Kobe will be in my heart for always.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bridal Flowers

Bridal bouquets is a beautiful book I got at at a book sale. It is a collaboration between florist Jane Durbridge, writer Antonia Swinson and photographer Craig Fordham. The result is a rare peice of jewel that will grace your coffee table and one that you will relish to leaf through for years to come.
Jane is a celebrated florist who works with a lot of boutique hotels and has an impressive list of private clients. You could see why she is so sought after, while you are admiring the lovely and creative bouquets in the book.
Bridal bouquets is mainly organized into color themes. Jane brilliantly takes you through a journey of the palette, from white and cream to pink, purple, red, orange, green, yellow and blue. She would suggest flower themes to go along with the wedding style and choice of dress. The full dress calls for a grand bouquet and the sleek dress would be perfect with a simple and chic posy.
To complement the bride's bouquet, Jane would suggest flowers for the bride's head dress, as well as posies, garlands, baskets for the bridesmaids. You would marvel at the Jane's overall thoroughness.

I think that the defining moment of the book is Jane's sensitivity to the seasons. Jane is a fan of using seasonal flowers. Flowers in season being more abundant and therefore less pricey.
Jane then points out that spring flowers like lily of the valley and snow white pansies, best complements the soft light in spring. The color scheme of yellow with white and green suggests a summer meadow, with daffodils, marigolds and yellow roses. The spectrum of orange hue sweet peas from peach, apricot, tangerine, vermilion to burnt orange is suited for autumn. Bluish tint red roses and dark, regal purple tulips would stand out in the cool, thin light in winter.

Jane has touched on many aspects of designing a bouquet, from the colors to the texture, to the foliage and her use of sumptuous ribbons to bring out the best in the flowers. Besides being a guidebook for brides in choosing a bouquet, this book has managed to transcend the boundaries of being a wedding book. All in all, this is a book that every flower lover would love.
(Photo Barnes & Nobles)

An Odd Bag of Friends

We have a wonderful vet in the nieghborhood. One of his favorite quotes is "it takes a dog to adore you and a cat to ignore you." Whenever he say that I would think of Garfield and Oldie. The cat with a snide and a dog who perpectually drools.

I always thought I was a dog person, coz I have always had doggies. Well, that is until Ashley came along. I have never had a cat before. I was expecting an aloof cat, who believes that "cats rule and dogs drool". Ashley is the youngest. My cockatoo Dayee is the eldest, then the Pom Pom B-chan, then Kobe the Yorkie and Ashley the Scottish Fold.

People would marvel at my odd mix of kids. Don't dogs and cats hate each other and cats and birds are mortal enemies? Well, except the first curiosity of checking each other out, they get along very well, no biting and no attacking each other.

Still, Ashley being a cat, she likes to "hunt". She would strategize ambushes to scare the dogs, especially Kobe, when he was still here. Kobe passed on last November and we all miss him terrribly. Surprisingly, it was Ashley who waited for him at the door and stayed close to his dog house for months.

After researching on the individual characteristics of my kids, I discovered why they can get along so well. One article described the Scottish Folds as calm, placid cats that enjoy staying indoors. They are playful, highly affectionate and gentle. Scottish Folds are highly adaptable and they do well in noisy houses full of people, even with friendly dogs. Ok there you go....

Cockatoos are very vocal and Dayee is no exception. Dayee has assumed the alpha role in the house. She would always comment on the things I say to the other kids. When I come home, I would say "hello" to each of them and ask them if they have been good boys and good girls. Dayee would then comment with a coo or a yell, depending on her version.

This is a mad house and a zoo, but everyone is at ease and relaxed. I never have to worry about them mauling each other when I am out. I guess the next time my vet quips that "it takes a dog to adore you and a cat to ignore you", I could add that "it takes a bird to boss you".

If only Kobe were here, our home will be whole. We really miss the mini Yorkie who is tiny in size, but has a whole lot of personality. More on Kobe next time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Christmas saved

I met this fur ball on Christmas eve five years ago. It was a dreaded family gathering, dreaded because I always come out disappointed. This one was all the more miserable because it happened to be Christmas, where there should be love abundant.
Dinner was over, but the gathering was not. It was suffocating and I had to get some air, to get out. I strolled along fuming, wondering why I decided to go in the first place and now my Christmas is totally ruined.
Down the block was this little pet store. I stood outside the window looking in and felt my anger slowly seeping away. I started to wave and make funny faces to the puppies and they began to look my way. The shop lady invited me in and told me that the two pomeranians in the play pen are brothers. They are fur balls all right, cute and adorable as all puppies are.
My spirit lifted as I looked into their innocent faces, their bright eyes full of hope. I cuddled them and one of them cooed in my arms. The shop lady being shop lady, said "oh look how he's attached to you," and things along that line. I was smiling and nodding but not responding to her sales line. But then the puppy squirmed and I held him up to look if he was all right. Our eyes met and it was love at first sight...
This little puppy is warm and soft and lovable and I can feel that he loves me right back. I made my decision right then and there that I would bring him home. I got all the puppy care and food and brought my puppy back to the gathering. Oh, they were surprised, but I did not care. I have all the love and warmth in my arms. This little pup has transformed my lonely Christmas into the most magnificent holiday.
This is B-chan now, almost six years old and still the mischevious little pup, though a lot rounder and bigger. He was my joy on that miserable night, and still is the joy of my life. He is my Christmas present to myself, a special gift and because of him, I had a joyeux noel.
There is a saying that we should not look into the future nor dwell in the past, because the present is a gift...I am lucky, I got both.
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