Archive | Things to make and do RSS feed for this section

When life gives you airline pillows…

4 Apr

…keep them and make yourself some throw cushions!

Back in December Mister Noodle and I undertook an unexpectedly epic journey to make it home to England to spend Christmas with our families and friends. After a four-day journey from Singapore that took in a street market in Frankfurt and a 2am taxi journey across London we had little to show for our European detour other than a rather sorry lilac blanket and two cushions, snaffled from our Malaysian Airlines flight. The moment we knew that our ‘only ten minutes from Heathrow’ flight was actually heading to Frankfurt, Mister Noodle swung into Ray Mears survival mode and started stuffing pillows, blankets, you name it into our luggage in preparation for sleeping on an airport floor. Thankfully Malaysian Airlines came up trumps with a hotel and the pillows were superfluous to requirements. However, after spending 3 days without our luggage but with our free pillows we became rather attached to the spoils of the MH004 flight (never the sign of a good journey when the flight number is indelibly marked on your brain).

These little pillows have sat, unloved and uncovered in our apartment ever since our return to Singapore in January. However, a sudden spurt of ‘we must make the apartment looked inhabited’ before the exciting arrival of some of our nearest and dearest, means that the pillows lie neglected no longer. With the help of some fabric from Spotlight, a sewing machine from the supermarket, and a blissful Sunday morning spent sewing and listening to the iPod, I now have one-of-a-kind throw cushions. Ta da!

Cushions from Malaysia, bear from Vietnam, fabric from Singapore

The home improvements didn’t stop there. There are another 3 larger cushions including the one below (for which I indulged Mister Noodle’s love of Japanese Anime). I have decided this cushion should become a barometer for my mood. Wistful anime lady – it’s safe to enter the apartment.

Who's that lady?

Godzilla-like monster – stay well clear!

The internationally recognised symbol for Noodle on the rampage.

 Mister Noodle, for reference, today we are on wistful anime lady so it’s safe to come home!

Sharing the (Poodle Noodle) love

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

An early morning Valentine’s greeting winged its way across the ether from a certain Poodle Noodle today. Never one to shy away from the limelight he felt the most fitting thing he could send was a picture of himself. Just how he managed to set the self timer whilst in this pose I shall never know! I expect he feels a need to take a break before the doormat is deluged with all those cards from lovelorn Suffolk lady westies.

There has been lots I have been loving about this week in Singapore too.

Rediscovering yoga classes after a six month break has been particularly good. I have spent the last few months looking for a class to join but have been put off by the exorbitant fees charged at a lot of the gyms/yoga centres in town. Whilst working in London I was lucky enough to be able to attend a lunchtime class at work that cost not much more than $15 a class. Here it seems the going rate, unless you want to commit to a year’s worth, is about double that and I fear that my wallet isn’t as flexible as my limbs (will hopefully be).

However, at the end of last week I made the most wonderful discovery: Singapore Community Centres. Run by the People’s Association, the centres offer a range of courses, activities and facilities for the local community. My local centre offers courses ranging from ‘the art of sushi and Japanese cuisine’ to line dancing. I have opted for the elementary Hatha yoga course and at $60 for 10 weeks I am not complaining (although I am a little bit in pain after my first class yesterday). Through Mister Noodle’s work and various other  sources, we had several induction/introductions to living in Singapore yet nobody mentioned the community centres. It is such a shame as if I had only discovered them six months ago I would be tying myself in unimaginable acrobatic knots by now!

Getting crafty


The "before I cast my magical sewing spell" shot...


Having discovered the fantastic design*sponge and spool blogs over this weekend I have embarked on a little crafty project. More to follow on this one later as the results are likely to turn into gifts. Suffice to say I am very pleased with my first efforts and it has also given me an excuse to spend a good hour and a half wandering the fabric and button aisles at Spotlight.

Backing a winner

Friday night took us to the Turf Club, the home of horseracing in Singapore. I won’t pretend my weekends in England used to be filled with horseracing and gambling. The odd trip to Newmarket for birthdays/stag dos was about as far as it went for Mister Noodle and me. However, when in Singapore and it is pelting with rain what else do you do but go and watch horses run about on grass? Luckily the weather cleared up in time for the racing and we made our way up to Kranji. The course is only 11 years old and much larger than I had imagined. In another case of managing your expectations I hadn’t really been expecting too much from it but was very pleasantly surprised. We opted to pay $20 to go to @hibiscus which is a lounge with bar, restaurant and your own screens for watching the race. Mainly filled with other expats it was a good introduction to the racing but our party of six agreed that next time we would pay a bit less and go closer to the action in the grandstand.

"Look. This is called a horse. You bet on it"

Mister Noodle had more success in the gambling stakes than I did and won enough to make the night out free. Maybe I need to change my tactic of choosing:  given the amount of information they give you in the brochure on weight, form, trainer etc. maybe choosing by horse name and jersey pattern isn’t the most informed way to go! I think we will definitely be back and I am particularly keen to go for the Singapore Airlines International Cup with its $3,000,000 prize fund. I am hoping this will be the one for the best Ascot-style people spotting. In which case, the next  craft project will have to be something like this:

Yes, a rather tenuous link, but I couldn’t end a Valentine’s Day post with a picture of a horse’s behind could I? X

Shopping with Uncle Ho (and why I’ll never own an ao dai)

10 Dec

Reproduction propaganda posters bought on Dhong Khoi road

Mister Noodle and I both like shopping and faced with a new urban place to explore we both tend to hit the shops. Saigon was no exception so, eschewing all the other information you can find in much better written blogs and guidebooks, here is a quick rundown of where we went and what we bought…ardent consumerists that we are.

What we got

Like a bad parent I am going to talk about my favourite first – Mr Pham-Van-Tu. This beautiful, handmade bear was discovered in Nagu, a little shop tucked away in the arcade of the Hotel Continental. He is made of silver and ivory striped silk, has fully functioning joints and was throwing himself at customers for a mere 20USD.

A very cultured bear indeed

He seems to be quite at home in Singapore and has even been catching up on the works of the Hotel Continental’s other famous resident, Graham Greene. Mr Pham’s name derives from a little side character in The Quiet American who ‘never…dressed carelessly, [or] said the wrong word.’ Just the sort of name for such a well turned out, respectable little bear.

 No introduction required for our next purchase (or prizes for guessing who chose it)…  

Our very own Uncle Ho courtesy of Saigon Kitsch

I have to say that up against the striped splendour of my bear, Uncle Ho is looking a little lacklustre. However, I have been informed that a style makeover is in the offing with Mister Noodle planning some prop art decoupage. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes! Along with Dogma, Saigon Kitsch is part of a funky two storey shophouse located on Nguyen Van Thu. Both levels are filled with quirky gifts, posters and clothing that have more than a hint of 1960s Vietnam about them.

Zen Monkey, Tara & Kys Gallery

Saigon is also a good bet for interesting art work – the authenticity and originality of some of it has to be taken with more than a little pinch of salt but I figure that if you like it, those sorts of things really don’t matter. Vietnam has very strict laws governing the export of antiques from the country so the chances are that if propaganda posters are your thing, you’ll be bringing back repro ones anyway. As well as the posters above, we also brought back a couple of prints from Tara & Kys Gallery situated at 101 Dong Khoi Street. The shop is worth a visit for its architecture alone. Going up the wooden staircase to the first floor showroom you have a real sense of what the shophouses would have once been like. If houses could speak, I am sure that this one would have more than a few stories to tell.     

What we would have liked to have got were dong, time and a western woman’s proportions no object…

1. Mai Lam military jacket. Mister Noodle would have plumped for one of the beautifully embroidered military jackets at Mai Lam’s at the Hotel Continental. Frustratingly I couldn’t get hold of an image to put on the blog but believe me they are exquisite, which probably explains the 1,200USD price tag. Mai Lam’s is also an interesting place to go just for a bit of window shopping – the garments are draped and hung across old-school wooden furniture and set against a very evocative backdrop of chandeliers and scooters.

2. A bit of bespoke. Saigon is famed for its tailors who can run up a suit in less than 24 hours. We didn’t get our act together this time to put their sewing skills to the test but it’s definitely on our list for our next visit. Since getting back to Singapore I have been given a good tip for a tailors near to the Sheraton Hotel so we’ll make sure we get suited and booted when we are next in town.

3. Oh dear, ao dai. Finally, the ao dai…

I fear that the closest I will ever get to owning an ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese dress, is the one depicted in the print we bought, above. There are many, many elegant women sporting gorgeous silk ao dai in Saigon and I know that I would do nothing for the outfit’s image were I to don one. My Suffolk-girl proportions are just not designed for the slim fitting dress/trouser combination and will have to be consigned, forever, to the list of items I would love to wear but just don’t suit me. Depressingly, with age, this list seems to be increasing and currently includes: converse trainers, cropped trousers, boyfriend fit jeans, hats of any description, and red dresses*.

With the exception of the absent ao dai, we gave Saigon a pretty good run for its money, and have some souvenirs I know we will treasure…along with at least one I hope won’t ever see the light of day outside this apartment. Eager to dispense with the dong at the airport, Mister Noodle purchased a replica Vietnamese army hat. Does it suit him and will he ever use it? Let’s just say it probably belongs on the same list as my ao dai.

*That last one has been off the list ever since the age of seven when my mum told me I looked like a skinned rabbit in a Tammy Girl dress. In hindsight, considering the weird, clingy mohair material, I guess see she was probably right.

Poodle Noodle makes his debut…

28 Nov
Poodle Noodle makes a wish

Every so often Mister Noodle has to make way for the ‘other’ man in my life – Poodle Noodle*, my beloved but rather wayward west highland terrier.

Being of hearty Scottish highland stock Poodle Noodle wasn’t really designed for tropical climes so he lives the life of Riley with my mum and dad back in Suffolk. Since I have moved out to Singapore PN has become rather internet savvy and has set up his own Facebook page and is quite adept at sending me email updates about what is going on back home. I was just settling into bed when his latest missive came winging its way across the information superhighway. It would appear that in my absence PN has taken it upon himself to assist my mum with one of our family’s pre-Christmas traditions – the making of the Christmas Pudding.

This usually takes place in late November and is a two-day affair. Day one is spent preparing the pudding mix, as per photo above. Before being packed into pudding bowls the mix is stirred by each member of the family and wishes have to be made. I don’t know what PN has wished for as it is between him, the wooden spoon and the mixing bowl, but I would imagine it involves either a year’s supply of tummy rubbing or being given one day’s free run at the postman. Day two of the pudding making is given over to steaming  – this takes most of the day and steams up the kitchen like a turkish bath. In actual fact it’s quite similar to the atmosphere in Singapore just after a heavy thunderstorm. After this the pudding is packed away in swathes of tin foil and brown paper until Christmas Day. Judging by the photograph below, PN is ready to be packed away until Christmas Day as well!

Phew - that's that for another year

And what have I been up to whilst PN has worked his paws to the bone in my absence? Discovering the Real Food cafe at Central, the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, and a  shared taste for arts, crafts and ginger beer with fellow blogger Notabilia; watching a school production that was so good I forgot it was a school production; discovering the delights of sipping lychee martinis at altitude at the New Asia Bar on the 71st floor of the Swissotel; and finding  an open air bar that will be screening Planes, Trains and Automobiles next Tuesday night – perfect for Mister Noodle and I to begin our three-week countdown to Christmas holidays. Just as long as our journey back to the UK doesn’t end up being as epic as it is in the film…

For a great Christmas Pudding –  Delia Smith’s Christmas

For a great pre-Christmas film – Movie Nights Screenings at Picotin

*In the interest of protecting his social standing in Suffolk, Poodle Noodle is, of course, an alias.

Singapore Noodle’s mascot, maybe?

19 Nov
Noodle The Elephant Amigurumi Pattern

Noodle The Elephant - Amigurumi Pattern from Etsy

I am in something of a crafty mood at the moment. Most of last year was spent making wedding things… save the dates, invitations, menu cards, orders of service, table plans, more bunting than an Archers village fete, you name it I had a go at it. After a four-month break from the craft knife and sewing machine I have itchy hands and crave a little needle on thread action. In search of inspiration I headed to the mother of all craft sites Etsy and what should appear on the very first page but Noodle the Elephant. My Mister Noodle is very anti-crochet as I discovered several weeks ago when I suggested that I could crochet some storage boxes out of garden twine (a la Kirstie Allsopp). I know, it doesn’t sound so appealing, but perhaps a crocheted elephant likeness will win him round. Or maybe not. I have a sneaking suspicion that if my crocheting is anything like my knitting it will just end up looking like one big plate of Singapore noodles. Ho hum.