Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Being positive

There is nothing in particular that I'd like to share with you... but I came to realise a very important point about life just recently...

The key to a happy life is really and truly having a positive attitude and mindset. I know it sounds very very cliche but I find that I often forget that too easily, and life becomes more and more bitter and miserable for no apparent reason.

So for the whole of this week, I promised myself to be positive, to think happy and smile all the time. This is what I have been consciously and purposely reminding myself of constantly and really, it did help brighten up my day and it makes you realise that when you're down, you bring others around you down as well and that is a very selfish attitude.

Today I was sourcing online for materials on fair trade and other global social issues so that I can produce some materials to be used on the exhibition board and I came across Book Aid International, a charitable organization who deliver donated books to Africa, support and collaborate with local organisations in Africa and make it possible for children in Africa to be able to enjoy reading and borrowing books. On their website, there are stories told by a few African children on how the books have changed and enriched their lives. These are stories that change your perspectives of life, take you 'out of your normal context' and make you appreciate your life and your surroundings. Simple things in life that we take for granted for, more often than not make so much difference to another human being on another part of the world.

When you read the facts and figures, it's unbelievable the kind of social and economical injustice that exist in our world. For example, something that I read not long ago read like this (a rough estimation but it gives you an idea).. For every cup of coffee that you pay for at a cafe, only 0.05% of the profit goes to the coffee grower... is that fair? How about banana growers in Ecuador who had to subject themselves to harmful substances used in the pesticides at all times which caused major problems like organ failures, impotency or even blindness? Or those poor children in the Ivory Coast who got sold into child slavery to work in cocoa plantations so that they can help produce cocoa beans used in chocolate that they have never had chance to taste all their lives?

Anyway, sorry for straying off the topic so much.

Like I said, it's nothing in particular I would like to share.. just some random thoughts and reflections...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The night I dressed up to be a punk girl.

We were invited to an 80s fancy dress birthday party months ago and at that time I knew I was working that night so I didn't even bother thinking about going because by the time I finished work at 10pm it would be too late to join the party in any form of fancy dress.

Next door to Steve is a fancy dress shop (how convenient) and being a typical man, he left it till Thursday before he decided to look for a 'cool and suitable' costume to rent. He got me into the shop with him so that I could help him decide between a Jedi master (that looked really cool) or a Top Gun pilot. Although the Jedi master outfit would have been cool and unusual with a 'light saber', in the end we decided that the Top Gun pilot jumpsuit would be a more sensible and practical choice. And there I was, standing amongst many many fancy dress costumes and my decision of not going was beginning to waver... and Steve urged me ... Oh go on, try something on, you can always ask to leave work an hour or two earlier and join us... it'll be fun.

It didn't take much persuasion before I started browsing the rack through various types of Madonna's outfits, and choices of random skirts and tops from the 80s. It's not fair that guys have so many choices but girls only have Madonna or other random unknown costumes. In the end, I settled on a punk dress purely because I could fit in it quite easily. And the lady who runs the shop gave me some ideas like wearing fish net stockings and other accessories to create the effect. And we really went all out and I got myself a pair of lacy fingerless gloves, a choker, some plastic rings to create fake facial piercing and even a can of red hair spray!!! Then it occurred to me that there is no way I'm going to finish work at 9pm, get ready in the locker room and be there to still enjoy the party. So I decided to get someone to do my shift on Saturday night. Not only have I spent money renting a costume, I was also going to lose money not working that night (I must be mad).

So anyway, we were busy during the day leading to the party in the evening because Steve was catering for the party so we started preparing the food before noon and got all the food ready and delivered by 5pm, and we raced home to get ready. Now this is the exciting bit, making my very Chinese-looking-self look punk (I know).

I changed into my dress, got my fish-net stockings on and I honestly did not look a bit punk and I was really disappointed. So I went over to my neighbour's house and decided to enlist her help. So she painted my nails neon orange, green and yellow. And then she crimped my hair to make it slightly puffy and the last bit was creating streaks of red on my hair with the hairspray and that did the trick !! And to finish it off, she applied some eyeshadow on me and some colour on my cheekbones and thank goodness I started to look slightly 'punk'.

It was such a night and there were other costumes like Banana man, the hulk, other punk boys and girls, miami vice.... it was fantastic. We danced and partied our way through classic songs from the 80s and we got home at almost 3am and I had to jump into the shower and washed my hair before going to bed so that I didn't stain the pillow case. I nearly fell asleep in the shower.

Overall it was a great night !!!

PS: I didn't have the fake piercing in the end because it was too painful on the nose and the ears :P and the rings refused to clip firmly onto my eyebrows !!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

This is it !!!

For the past few days I've been working really hard on the project... first because there are people out there waiting to see what's happening and this is definitely not the kind of project I can abandon.... second every minute I spent on it brought me closer to the finish line and I got more and more excited as I raced towards it.

So on Sunday night, I finally finished it but by then it was 2am so it would be crazy to start taking pictures and to blog about it.

Then I got home from work on Monday and Steve helped me take some pictures of it, with me posing left, right and center. Just when I was ready to blog about it after having picked a few good photos, the WIFI upstairs refuse to work !!!!! So I was in my dressing gown and couldn't be bothered to go downstairs to use the pc.

Tonight, here I am, ready with me photos and to proudly show you my finished product. Well, I don't really want to build up your expectations at this point. Now thinking about it, it's actually a bit embarrassing the way I'm fussing about it because really and truly, it's just a tiny and humble project which is a very practical thing that I am desperately in need of.

These three pictures show the project in its mid phase. As you can probably see, the third picture is showing you what it will turn out to be. And yess you guessed right, it was a pouch for my new laptop.

(click on the collage to see bigger images)

This collage is a collection of pictures showing the pouch from all angles. I hope you can see the doggy wooden buttons clearly. I really love those buttons and don't regret paying £1.85 each for them. I just love wooden buttons and think they're perfect for the pouch. I know it's just a simple rectangular pouch but when it comes to bags or pouches, I love simplicity and always stick to 'nothing too funky or funny'. Although it's a simple looking bag, it was quite a job trying to make the stitches look 'invisible' during the final stage and avoid making it look 'messy'.

So there you go, my home made laptop sleeve that is both practical and useful (I saved myself about 10 pounds as well) and I am extremely chuffed about it and cannot stop running my hand over the line pattern. :)

What do you think?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Progress so far...

I know, I know, Friday is supposed to be the grand finishing day but try as hard as I may, coming back from work each night at 10pm and toiling away, it's unlikely that it will happen Friday so I thought I'll reveal its current status, without giving away too much of what it's going to be. So you can see the progress from this poor quality pic which I snapped with my blackberry camera out of sheer laziness (I know, the modern human nature who can't be bothered with using a proper 7megapix digital cam sitting in the drawer and having to upload the pic on the pc). For those who have a thing for needle craft you can probably tell that the pattern has changed slightly from the last picture and it's now got a beautiful line texture to it (again I apologise for the poor quality) and I do not regret at all the first four times I had to re-do, un-do and re-do before I got it right.

And many have commented on the nice blend of colours. It's very soothing and I really really can't wait to finish this project and I promise to use a proper camera when taking pix of the finished product to show you guys!

Sorry Bea this one's a keeper. Perhaps if I have more yarn left after this project I'll make you something from it :) but you know me very well, don't hold your breath on it (at least I made you a scarf with flowers bah!!)

Can't wait to see you all again soon for the BIG finish day! Xx.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

Monday, 14 September 2009

What is it going to be?

As Bea and Steve can tell you, I am the queen of unfinished projects when it comes to knitting, crochet and cross stitch. Lately, I've picked up me needle and yarn again and started making something that was on my mind. Today I'm having an off day, having worked last Friday when it was supposed to be my off day, so am enjoying a great Monday with the TV remote and my project.

Since I've never finished most of my projects and am totally embarrassed by my lack of determination, I've refused to disclose to Steve or anyone else what the project is going to be. And I keep telling people, you'll see, you'll see (or not), haha.

So people, keep watching this space and you might be lucky enough to see the end of my project with a picture of my finished product!!

Can you guess what it is??!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

On why I was being completely A.N.A.L.

I cannot believe that it is now 12 hours before the Conference... I stayed at the office till 7pm today and told myself, okay, this is the 120th time I'm going through that 'To do' list.... and I'm pretty sure I've got everything covered !!! Conference bag... CHECK..... Chair instructions... CHECK.... copy all presentation slides onto memory stick... CHECK.... abstract list... CHECK... delegate sign up sheet.... CHECK... name badges....CHECK... and the list goes on...

One precious lesson I learnt today is to learn to let go, trust other people and know how to delegate tasks out. For the past two days I've been using every spare time that I have to stuff leaflets, instructions, schedules, maps, pens, coffee sachets and other freebies into the Conference bag that we'll be giving out to the delegates. Now people who do not know me well, I am very very ANAL when it comes to things like that... all papers have to be in the correct order, put into the folder neatly with the folder carefully placed into the bag so as not to crumple the folder... yada yada yada... so trying to do all 64 has taken its toll on me and try as hard as I may, I was lagging behind by 3pm today and I had other things to do like printing out administration documents, putting up posters, arranging tables at the venue, emailing people.... earlier today my boss and my colleagues have kindly offered their hand but I turned them down politely, saying.. Oh I've got everything under control... (in actual fact, I don't trust other people to do this job as well as I do it *DUH*, Anal, I know... completely). And then comes the time to load everything up into the trolley ready for tomorrow, I was still stuffing the bags and I was still saying ... Oh I've got everything under control.....

By 5pm, I was still stuffing the bags and my boss finally decided that I should let my other colleague handle that task (and I begrudgingly had to turn away from that corner and carry on with other more pressing matters to tend to)... still I couldn't help myself but kept glancing over my shoulder to make sure that she was doing it right...

Then when all of that was done, it was loading time and still I said... Oh don't worry, I'll do it later.. and of course my boss won't have it... and she and another colleague started loading up the trolley and got that done in 5 minutes flat...

After I've got everything done and before I left the office at 7pm, I looked at all the contents neatly piled up in the trolley and thought to myself... thank god that's done.. otherwise I would have ended up spending the night at the office !!! Upon checking the bags, so yeahh some folders were dented a bit, some folders were sticking out of their bags a bit... so what?! At least they're done.

It is hard sometimes to let go and learn to delegate.. but it is also important to remember the word 'teamwork'. My colleague teased me and called me a 'one-man-band'. I think doing a good job is important, but letting others help you to do a good job is equally important.

I hope the Conference in the next two days will not only turn out as planned but also will be a roaring success and that by the end of it, everybody will go home feeling satisfied and more informed.

NOTE: 'Anal' is shortened from the expression 'anal retentive' which means uptight, uncompromising, compulsive and picky about doing things a certain way...

Monday, 7 September 2009

As promised !!

Finally I found out what the problem was with uploading pictures and thanks to Fely who tested the pages for me until I finally got it right. Here are some pictures as promised. Hope you can see them.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

What a week !!

So much has happened this week.

Since I got back into work on Tuesday it has been non-stop and that's understandable seeing that the Conference is only one week away. For the whole of last week, I've been slaving in front of the computer and staring at the screen so hard that my eyes turned red... but on Friday, after several hours of seemingly hard work, I paused and asked myself.... what have I actually done all day?? It was one of those days that makes you feel like you're rushing around like a blue-arsed fly but there is no concrete proof or result to equate all that hard work!! Not to mention that my current stress level is at an all time high because there are just so many things I haven't done... like preparing the Conference packs for all 60 delegates; doing name badges; devising a taxi order list; dinner guests list... and the list goes on !!! Helppppp !!!!!! And it didn't help that amongst all that stress, I had to deal with rude and arrogant swines who think too highly of themselves........ !!!

Despite all that, it was a very very happy week for me because 1. I got Fuzzer (and having replaced the battery it is now running like newww) and 2. I'm blogging from a brand, spanking new Macbook that I've been craving for ages but knew I could never afford. During our holidays in Turkey, I have had some time to think about it and decided to follow Steve's advice (he knows how much I would love having a Mac), so as soon as I came home, I packed the Acer that I got on my birthday(poor thing) back into its original box, thank god I hadn't used it much, and took it back to the shop to be returned (thank god for refunding policy)... and that very afternoon, we placed an order for me Macbook with a really good deal and was told that I would receive it two days later (yippie). And that made Steve happy as well knowing that I would now thoroughly enjoy the birthday present that he got me (hooray).

So all in all, it was a happy week for me and am still learning my way through the Apple's operating system and the more I learn, the more impressed I am and am still waiting to 'uncover' more treasure !!!

By the way, the good deal which I got was the fact that the Macbook practically came with a free Ipod Touch (cost me £20); and there was an additional 14% off the Mac... and I got three year Apple Protection Cover for just £40 !!! Super duper good deal it was !!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

And so we got Fuzzer !!

Many many posts ago, I announced that I had passed my English driving test and that I was looking to get a secondhand car. But because we were going on holiday, the search wasn't that serious, wasn't intense and even Fely helped me search for a few, but none ever appealed to me. Before the holiday, we got the Parker's Price Guide (this is a handy guidebook that gives you an idea of how much a second hand car, which model, from which year should ideally sell for so that you don't end up paying too much for a piece of crap). And we found a few potentially good cars within my budget, mostly small and economical so that I don't burn a hole in my pocket filling it up.

Yesterday Steve picked me up after work and we vaguely remember that the auction is normally held on a Tuesday at 4pm, so we decided to 'pop down and have a look look, see see'. It wasn't crowded as usual I think due to the rain but there were still people there who looked like they go there on a regular basis, drinking coffee from their own mugs and I suspect these are people who buy really cheap and tacky looking cars at a ridiculously low price, do them up and sell them again, making loads of money in the process. In the auction, sometimes you get quite lucky and can get some really good deals but these days, small and economical cars are in high demand so it's not surprising that a convertible SAAB or a BMW can fetch less money than a tiny, humble Nissan Micra or Ford KA or Citroen Saxo.

I was eyeing a 7-year-old Nissan Micra, black, with a sunroof (cool, i thought), and with full service history, reasonably low mileage and no visible scratch or dent (that's as much as you can hope for in a second hand car in an auction). Because we have been doing some research online, we know that realistically, this will be well beyond my budget and that other people would outbid my budget of £1500 pounds in a matter of seconds.

Like in a fashion show, the cars are being driven one by one to the bidding area, for people to touch, view and bid for, and then they are driven away again, either sold or rejected (poor things). The bidding process is very very fast (about less than 3 minutes per vehicle) and the guy talks even faster. Took me a few cars to fully understand his lingo and to understand how the bidding goes. Before the Nissan Micra, it was a Perodua Kancil and I was so tempted to bid for it because I had driven one before and I know it's quite okay. But I didn't in the end coz I thought I wanted something different this time and it went for £300, haha.

So finally, in came the Nissan Micra and the bidding started and my heart started to thud thud thud. I told Steve £1500 and that's it. So the bidding started at £800 and went up very quickly till £1200 and then it slowed down and it was a battle between me and another lady. We were very close to getting it at £1300 and suddenly she decided to outbid that and then we were outbidding each other at every £25 and £50 pounds, and brought it up to £1400, and I gave Steve the signal to carry on and we outbid her with £1425, and then £1425 and then he announced again £1425....... silence from the lady..... £1425... and the car is SOLD !! (with a wooden hammer being knocked on the table for the effect) .... and at that moment it hit me.... I just bought a car !!!!! I BOUGHT A CAR !!! yiiiipppieeeeeeeee !!!

It was the colour I like (mind you, when I embarked on a search for a second hand car, I was prepared to take any colour as long as it is in a good condition), and it's well looked after and it was within my budget !! We couldn't believe it. So to cut long story short, an hour later, Fuzzer was home with us. Because part of the registration number has F52ZZR, I decided to name her Fuzzer, haha.

This weekend, we will clean Fuzzer inside and out and I will upload some pretty pictures of Fuzzer for all to see. :)