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2020 – The Year That Was

30 Dec

Well, another year has come and gone, almost. With another day left for 2022, it’s time to reflect on the year that was.

I have seen on the web that touted 2022 as ‘2020 Too’ and not 2022. Get it? A repeat of the year that upended everything. To a certain extent, it was true. But I think the good things that happened far outweighed the unpleasant, at least for me.

The highlight of the year for us was M2’s graduation, and we had the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland, to attend the Commencement Ceremony. During that time, travelers no longer needed to be quarantined upon arrival, so that was good. It added extra days to our plans, and we added London to the itinerary to stretch the holiday.

The downside of such a long holiday was the weather! It was cold to the core, and at times, the numbness from being in the cold made the experience unpleasant. But we took it in stride, and it was indeed a wonderful time.

2022 was somewhat of a year of new beginnings for us. Regrettably, we gave up our office space and officially worked from home. However, it was a good decision and a blessing in disguise. We no longer have to stress over traveling to/from home/office and have more time and flexibility. And as far as work is concerned, well, there have been ups and downs, but we prevailed. Let’s hope the new year will be better.

2022 was also a year of medical concerns. With Covid cases on the uptrend, people I know were positive at an alarming rate. It was only a matter of time before I contracted it. True enough, I tested positive in June and had the most miserable week of my life battling it. I was in no mood to share my episode then and, as time passed, forgot about my ordeal. However, in the aftermath, I notice I frequently experience brain fog and memory loss! Yikes. And I lost distance when golfing. Double yikes!

Sometimes I say it was the booster jab that compromised my health. But then again, I should say the booster jab saved me from complications or worst. So I should be thankful in this sense. My golfing distance has since returned, but my brain fog is still there. Perhaps this is purely due to age instead? I have to monitor further on this.

The year also saw a decline in my miniature crafting. Weirdly, I have so much time, yet no time at all. We played golf often and ate out more, yet no progress for my miniatures. DIY project #25 has stopped for the longest time! Maybe 2023 will see a revival of my interest? We will find out.

So what do I envision for the new year? Well, nothing too extreme, better health would be good, after all, I am a year older. In short, let there be peace, harmony, and good health. Here’s wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year!

Nine Years and Counting!

13 Jun

I had a notification from WordPress this morning – congratulating me on the ninth anniversary of my blog site! Wow. For nine years, I have had this going. Wow again. I am speechless that I have kept it going for so long.

But this would not have happened if it wasn’t for all you readers supporting me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Keep reading, and of course, I will keep writing.

A Fairy Tale Setting

6 May

It looked like a scene from a fairy tale fable. It was not too late when we came back from dinner earlier this week. The frog was sitting so upright and rigid in front of the tree. Three mushrooms were growing next to the tree trunk, making the scene more fabled. I think the street light played a role in the dreamy scenario.

My feeble attempts with my iPhone XR

The frog did not even flinch when hubby crouched so close to it to take its picture. He managed to capture a few spectacular shots with his Samsung phone. I did not go as close as I was afraid the frog would jump. My photos taken with my iPhone XR pale in comparison to his attempt.

Hubby’s shots with his Samsung phone
Night and day difference for the three mushrooms

Once in a while, it is okay to appreciate a frog if they could sit there quietly, and create a surreal fairy tale scene, instead of being in the garden choir ensemble.

Days of My MCO Life, Part 2

13 Apr

The bread that I baked last week was an out-of-the-blue decision. I called it the accidental bread. I was set to bake a cake in the beginning, the instant cake-from-the-box easy peasy one of course. Then I decided why not bake bread too? Since we have all the time in the world.

Also I wanted to give the Kenwood Rapid Bake bread maker another chance but the bread maker tripped the electricity in the house again. This reaffirmed that it’s a machine problem and wasn’t a user problem the last time when I used the machine.

So Plan B had to be kicked in because we had an unbaked bread in hand.

Rather than wasting the dough because the trip occurred when the bread maker went into the baking mode, we managed to salvage it. With some modification – adding more flour to the unusual watery mixture (don’t ask me how it became like that), we let the dough sit for a bit.

Then into the conventional oven it went. The final outcome turned out pretty good despite its appearance! A pat on the shoulder for the both of us.

Tastes better than it looks

Do I look forward to baking my next loaf of bread in the oven? I’m not too sure, we shall see.

Besides these self-discoveries and time-consuming activities, I caught up with my reading, finishing several titles and I started watching a Netflix series, something I never did previously. It’s certainly interesting times with the days of my MCO life.

Days of My MCO Life

7 Apr

We are now a week into Phase Two of the MCO. What this means is that the rules are stricter and anyone caught going beyond 10km from their home will be arrested if they don’t have a valid reason. Well, I don’t have to worry as I have not ventured out even to the front lawn of the house.

Being confined to the house for so long during this MCO, I found myself doing things that I’ve never done so much before within a certain time frame.

Like cooking. And constantly at it, twice each day, trying out all sorts of recipes sourced from the internet. It’s the most logical thing to do and besides, I have all the time in the world for the preparations.

Then there’s the carving. I’ve carved so many Whales in March and these would all make lovely gifts for my friends when I see them.

All these carved during the MCO

There’s also another homely thing that I found myself doing every now and then. Baking! Although it’s the instant out-of-the-box, it’s a good variation from the cooking routine. Twice I baked and once I even baked a loaf of bread! Surprise… surprise…

The second cake – Lemon Cake with poppyseeds of course!

Looking Back at 2019

31 Dec

Well well… it looks like another year has gone by again. Time to file the memories away to recall later fondly and another set of annual resolutions to make. Or break. But the end of 2019 is much more than another year gone by, it’s the end of a decade!

Looking back, I’ve had my fair share of good memories and heartaches with many things happening in the year. After all, there’s 365 days. What stood out most for me can be summed up to these.

Both girls are all grown up, with one having graduated and continuing on with grad school in the US and the other just starting college in Ireland. Proud parent moments. Then there’s me reaching the milestone big five birthday. Happy me occasion.

My carving hobby resulted in a mixed growth in Gigglesville’s population this year. There were only 13 new Citizens to reach 194 (I couldn’t push myself to reach 200), the Whales grew to 48, with 30 new ones while the Gnomes had only two new giant ones to make three dozen as of 2019. It could be better.

But with this carving activity, there was a price to pay: my aggravated injuries. My golf game suffered as a consequence and for the first time, I find myself not giving the sport any priority anymore. I lost the will to excel when injuries persisted. Hopefully this mindset can change to a more positive one come 2020.

Besides the sports injury, my endometriosis pain was well, a pain to deal with this year. More acute than ever, I was at the mercy of a monthly recurrence, it was dreadful. So I started the 16/8 intermittent fasting diet to manage the painful backache and cramp attacks. With a controlled diet and a list of food to avoid, losing a fair bit of weight along the way was a booster and motivation too besides minimizing the agony. It helped.

Not everything was rosy and good though. My iPad Mini has been wonky and unreliable with each passing day, my MacBook Air had to be resuscitated but nothing compared to losing our beloved English bulldog, Rooney aka official pet number one to old age and sickness. It was the saddest day of our lives and suddenly, the house was emptier than ever and our lives changed.

Looking back, if I were to put 2019 into perspective of a phrase, ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ aptly summarizes the year for me. Now as I ponder what to expect for the new year and new decade, I hope it will be one that focuses on ‘the good, the better and the best’. No resolutions needed though.

To everyone, here’s wishing you an awesome 2020 ahead, Happy New Year and Goodbye 2019!

Contrasting First Years

29 Nov

When M1 went off to university four years ago, we had periodic pictorial updates on the classes she took. As she was a Food Science major, obviously it was food-related and the pictures were experiments that were conducted in the lab for her classes. From the preparation to the end result, we had interesting pictures of how to make Camembert cheese and smoked salmon.

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Fancy some cheese?

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Or perhaps smoked salmon?

Now with M2 having started her first year at college––she has completed her Foundation Studies with distinction––we are also getting updates on her classes. As she is a Design Communications major, similar to my degree but mine was called Visual Communications with an emphasis in Graphic Design, so obviously we are getting art and design-related pictures.

This being an assignment from her Illustration class. Dang… the details and patience! I am so glad she’s on the right path to nurture her creativity and shape her ability.

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A Cut Too Deep, Part 2

22 Nov

My MacGyver skills came in handy when it came to rescuing the Whale with the broken tail. Given a second chance to be completed and not abandoned, it would have a whole tail section transplant instead of an itty-bitty prosthetic!

This was what I did…

After evaluating the damage and the wood surface, an itty bitty prosthetic tail wouldn’t do because that part of the wood was too porous and it certainly won’t stick. It needed more to be permanent and a transplant was a better option to replace the whole section. A little bit more work but I felt better about this direction.

So I worked on another piece for the tail part. Luckily the Meranti piece that I chose wasn’t that hard and it was quite effortless to get the shape right quickly. But after aligning the pieces, my estimates were off! Haish… it didn’t look right and I ended up having to shave off a little bit more of the bottom part on the main body.

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Bottom pics: Before (L) and after (R) trimming the base to fit the new tail section

Eventually, with the tiniest nails I could find, the tail section was attached to the main body. I then added Elmer’s glue and stapled the section to secure it.

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How to add a tail to a whale, with nails, glue and staples

After the glue dried, I started puttying the piece to even out the nooks and crannies and the Whale was starting to look good. Phew! I decided to leave the staples in for peace of mind.

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A saved whale is a happy whale!

When I’m done applying gesso on it, you can’t tell that this fella had surgery in the first place. And once I decide what color it shall be, it will certainly look good when painted. I’m so glad I persevered on this to give it a second lease in life after that unfortunate cut that was too deep. A saved whale is a happy whale, and a happy me too!

A New Direction

8 Nov

After the bout of carving six Citizens not too long ago, I was ready for another big piece. Suddenly carving big pieces is the way to go! This latest attempt at another Ginormous Gnome is again a combination of three Meranti wood, making it the second piece with three glued pieces.

This time there’s no add-ons for depth, learning from the previous piece. Also I am unfazed by the height because I know what to do. And there certainly won’t be any hole in the cap because I sketched the Gnome to be smaller with plenty of room to shape.

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Let the carving begin!

These days I seem to prefer carving big pieces over little Gnomes as it does not aggravate the left wrist because I don’t need to have a dead grip with the left hand. If you must know, carving Citizens is not painful because it’s on soft balsa, not semi-hard Meranti wood.

But I still have to find the right balance with this new direction because at times, the right golf elbow can still be aggravated if I’m at it too long – the repetitive motion on the semi-hard Meranti.

Sometimes if I have a weekend game coming up, I’d carve less to prevent any recurrence of pain. However if the pain persist on game day, I have no choice but to pop painkillers and use Salonpas patches to subdue it.

Perhaps with the new lighter golf set making golf enjoyable again, I can find the middle ground to have satisfaction to enjoy both golf and carving simultaneously without giving up one or the other.

I’ll see how, until then onwards with the new piece!

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Slowly but surely it’s coming along!

A Delightful Discovery

8 Jul

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When I was young, I used to build hobby model aircrafts because my only sibling was into Tamiya models. I guess his interest rubbed off on me. There was one series that I particularly like which was the Hasegawa EggPlane series because they were very cute unlike those macho Tamiya aircrafts.

So it was with utter delight that I discovered an EggPlane at a hobby & craft shop in Corvallis during our recent trip to the US. I am definitely looking forward to assembling my egg-shaped plane soonest possible.