Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The conversion of a coffee drinker

From all that I've been reading about this new health wonder known as Rooibos Tea, I'm thinking that it would do my body good to be drinking it. But the funny things is as soon as I know that it is good for me I automatically think that it should taste like vomit warmed over.
This can probably be attributed to my upbringing. As a Chinese girl living in an examination-oriented Asian city, my mother would cook me some traditional Chinese brew or other soup from the Sinseh down the street (traditional Chinese herbalist) that would be good for me. Make me strong and help me concentrate on my studies. And, inevitably taste like gunky, murky, bitter sludge. The dried sea-horses bobbing up & down the brew didn't help make it more appetising.

So now as I read about all the health benefits of Rooibos (pronounces ROY-bus) tea, my taste buds,uncannily, start to taste sea-horse.

But working part-time in a tea shop soon dissolved my unreasonable preconception that rooibos would taste disgusting. Because in this same tea shop, I found that rooibos could be blended with Moroccan mint & rose petals, with mango, with vanilla, berries, almond & macadamians and, the top of my list, with creme caramel. Yummy & good for you. What could be better?

Apparently, rooibos tea contains no colours, additives or preservatives, making it a natural beverage. It also has no caffeine (because it is not from the official Tea plant, Camellia sinensis), which makes it great for kids and as a late night substitute for tea.
And according to studies conducted in South Africa and Japan, Rooibos has been shown to aid in health problems such as insomnia, irritability, headaches, nervous tension, and hypertension.

From an article on

" Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis ) has anti-carcinogenic and antimutagenic effects. Rooibos tea is used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. Consumption of rooibos tea may relief fever, asthma, insomnia, colic in infants and skin disorders. Rooibos extracts are used in ointments against eczema. In South Africa it is very common to give rooibos tea to babies who suffer from stomach cramps (colic).

Rooibos is the only known source of the phytochemical aspalathin. In vitro and animal studies have indicated that quercetin and luteolin help to prevent cardiovascular disease, some cancers and stroke. Rutin has been associated with the maintenance of blood vessels walls."

Like I said, yummy & good for you....what could better?

Friday, 22 June 2007

The Fat Flower Bag

I know. It's not exactly the most poetic name for a bag. But it fits, it's fun and it's plum luscious. Yummy!

Hit by the muse of It's-so-totally-fab,-I-just-gotta-make-it, I stayed up the wee hours of last night to get Fat Flower finished (now try saying that quickly). With the company of Minke the terror cat, the girl managed to transform the reversible upholstery grade Chenille into the cutest little bag.

The idea for Fat Flower actually came from an ad in Sunset Magazine for some flooring system. There was the floor and, perched delectably above it, was this gorgeous mustard leather handbag. Inspiration, truly, can be found just about anywhere.

Fat Flower is a lighter cheerful take on that classy leather version.Call me biased, but I just love florals. So I'm making 2 for sale on Etsy and keeping 2 for meself. Sometimes I'm not too sure on the profitability of a business model where you keep one of everything you sell.
But, life is short, and it's a good feeling to like the things you make.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Low Tech Fun

As some of you may know I have an eco blog called Paper * People * Planet run separately from this one.

It's been a tad too finicky to do both so I'm slowly consolidating them both with the last post from Paper * People * Planet here for your reading pleasure.

In the future all my eco & paper posts will be found here.


" One of the stumbling blocks for those of you wanting to recycle your paper trash is the inconvenience or the expense of getting a mould & deckle. You either have to buy a kit which would set you back by at least US$20 or make your own kit with 2 identical sized wooden frames from an art shop or framers, then staple gunning the mesh to one of them to make your mould.
Well, while I was still waiting for my box of leftover-in-Singapore stuff together with
my Green Bananas Paper Maker that my wonderful sis is shipping to me, I thought I'd try out a simple contraption.

Having read about it on a leaflet at the local library, I figured I'd give it a try seeing that most of what I needed was either in the house or can be got at the neighbourhood hardware store. The leaflet teaches you how to make basic paper without using the traditional mould & deckle. All it takes is some stiff metal wire, as the support and finer plastic mesh (the same ones for screen doors) as a sieve.

You tightly wrap the plastic mesh around the metal wire and then duct tape (fantastically waterproof stuff) the edges to hold both in place.

And bob's your uncle, you're all set!

For my first batch of paper, I harvested from the carpet of cherry blossoms in the garden to add as inclusions into my paper. And I used magazine pages to be blended for the paper pulp.

Blended a handful of shredded paper and added it to the vat. After 2 blender-full of pulp, I sprinkled in the previously dried cherry blossoms, and gave the mixture a good stir. Now was the moment of truth.

Would it work or wouldn't it?

Pulling the first sheet was tenuous. There was no deckle to hold the pulp mixture on the mould while the water drained. Liquid was flowing all over the place. The first sheet was uneven but complete. Phew! Pulling subsequent sheets got easier as I began to get a feel of the Meckle (a name I affectionately call this hybrid of Deckle & Mould).

Couching the paper was a cinch. And the meckle lifted without a problem and, without any serious tearing of the wet paper. Hurrah!!!

When I completed my post of papers, it was out to the balcony for something heavy to squeeze the water from the wet paper. And since I didn't feel like standing on the post throughout the night (yes, I'd put on weight since coming to Canada), the paving stone would have to do. And it worked quite well too. Nothing like using things around the house to complete a project.

The paper dried to a an off-white with brown inclusions. Not the most Scarlett O'Hara of papers but it had a salt-of-the-earth rocky quality about it.

I've made envelopes with it and together with yesterday's batch of basically white paper with Lover's Rose Elixir Tea paper I made yesterday, I've put together a neato notepaper & envelope wallet set. It goes on Etsy tomorrow. Yippee for low tech!!!

Friday, 15 June 2007

When Cousins Come to Stay

The good thing when family comes to visit is not just familiar faces bringing stories from home, and this trip in particular, cousin Diana schlepping in 4 kg of kopi Cap Karpal Tanker (ooohhhh yummie), but that I actually get a chance to visit the sights of Vancouver again.

After living here almost 3 years, I've gotten cynical about this city and have been gradually only concentrating on it's negatives. Like, the crazy road system, with it's wonky inbuilt frustrations every km or so and bleeding heart liberals insisting that hard earned tax-payers money is used to provide safe injection sites for the continuing of illegal drug addiction instead of finding a way to help them kick the habit. Coming from a smoothly run and fairly drug free Singapore, little things like this really began to grate.

So having the cousins visit compelled me to look for places of beauty & fun in and around Vancouver. Places that celebrated the energy & specialness of this city that butted between the foot of the Coastal Mountain range and the Straits of Georgia. And, once I relaxed my prejuidices and looked, these places weren't too difficult to find.

The Van Dusen Gardens for one is my favourite. It 's in Vancouver West and has large grounds divided into plants from different regions, lakes laced with pretty Japanese maples, a funky hedge maze and gorgeous temperate gardens. The garden is in the middle of the city yet, when you sit on the benches by the small lake,under the dappled shade of the willows, you hardly notice the city.

The trip up to Burnaby Mountain help give the girls a view of the city. From mountain to river, from the deep fjiords to the open ocean. Also there were the funky totems donated to the city of Vancouver by a sister city in Japan.

The problem with being a tour guide is that although you can control the itineiry, you can't really control the weather. So, for most of the time the cousins were here, we had the wet & grey Vancouver is fairly famous for. Still, that didn't stop us tough & intrepid sight-seers who picked the wettest day for a hike up Lynn Canyon somewhere in between some of the North Shore Mountains.
The suspension bridge alone was well worth the visit, and that's not counting the spectacular waterfall you get to see while standing in the middle of the bridge. The 20 minute hike to Rice Lake was, however, a disappointment (for me at least). BC hydro was working on a big water treatment plant there and the trail led past it.

Still, by the time we got to the smallish deserted lake, the sky had dried up , at least for a bit, and the view of the lake that unfolded before us was quite magical.

Not too bad for a city of over two million, to be able to feel like you are alone in the wilderness by taking juts a 20 minute hike.