Friday, August 3, 2012

Old jeans, new use

Found some old jeans the other day. Probably had them when I was 25. They have been in the drawer for ages, didn't think I would be able to fit in them any time in the future...

It's a nice pair of Diesel jeans. Pity to throw them away. So I cut them up and made two nice pillow covers out of them. Added a bit of a fun twist to them - with two pairs of Chinese knots.

No! No! No!

In the latest edition of Elle Mat & Vin (Nr 6 2012), there is an artikel about organizing crayfish party in Chinese style - with Chinese inspired recipes and decorations. Quite a fun idea indeed, except for one small detail.

On the table, they use a kind of paper with Chinese text for putting spring rolls (page 42) - certainly thinking this is better than regular household tissue paper. If you are wondering where to find them, well, I can tell you - they can be found in Chinese/Asian grocery stores, but I wouldn't recommend you use them for table decoration or decorations of any sort. There are different purposes with these "Chinese papers". Some for praying and some for dead people. So if you were indeed inspired by the article and would like to impress your Chinese guests with a "kinesisk kräftskiva" (Chinese crayfish party), I would suggest you leave out the paper.

My second "No" is to Lulu Carter quick fix för badrummet (episode 15 Spring 2012), where she suggests to put shampoo/shower gel in a ceramic bottle. If you plan to do just that, please be aware when you have soap or shampoo in your hand, it may be difficult to open the bottle. The bottle is also slippery to hold. If you want to have a nice looking bottle, find one with a pump. It's easier but not risk-free.

The last "No" is to the same episode (I think it's the same) where Lulu decorates the bathroom with a Buddha. Frankly speaking, a little decency and respect for other religion please! One can have Buddha in a garden or a living area (tv room or dining room) but not in a bathroom or toilet PLEASE! We don't find statues of Jesus or Virgin Mary in bathrooms, do we?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Outdoor dining ware, shall be fun and funky

Longing for the summer warmth so we can dine outside in the garden, or just sit there and listen to the birds singing.

Socially responsible melamineware

Nowadays, there are a wide variety of dining ware for outdoor use in different materials. RICE, for example, has some of the most exquisite melamine bowls, plates, and cups in vibrant colors. Great for outdoor use during the summer. The story goes, Charlotte from Denmark started RICE with her friend, Hans who was (perhaps still is) in Thailand. They started by selling some of the melamine wares made in Thailand and today you can find their products across the globe.
Melamine dining ware from RICE in vibrant colors. Great for the summer!

My personal favorites are the ones with floral print  or the playful hen print.

Bamboo Bowl 25x10 cm, Fluorised Pink
Bamboo bowl, fluorised pink 25 x 10cm
by Mayor
Bamboo Bowl 15x8 cm, Turkis
Bamboo bowl, Turkis, 15x8cm

Bamboo, environmentally friendlier material?

Though I love the colors and prints, and their commitment to social responsibility, melamine to me feels a bit "plastic-y". For those of you that feel the same, there is the option of bamboo material, from Mayol for example, also Danish (why are the Danes so good in home design and decor?). It's getting more popular with bamboo materials, not only for dining ware but also for fabric. Some claim bamboo is more environmentally friendly. Honestly speaking, after been working for more than 6 years in environment and social responsibility, I don't know why bamboo would be environmentally friendlier than sustainably logged wood for example. Something I need to investigate later.   

Vintage or not, enamelware should be the next big thing 

My absolute personal favorite, something I would love to have in my garden would be vintage enamel mugs, bowls, tray, as I remember from my childhood. It used to be so common (at least in Asia). My grandmother had them; great for every day use and it's no fuss if the mug is a bit dented or chipped. They used to come with floral print in bright colors. There are also enamel kettles and basin. An idea would be to use them for washing hands after eating shrimps or crayfish. 

Found this online, at a vintage store in Singapore, By My Old School.

For those of you that don't quite share my nostalgic association, I have also found these very chic, funky enamel mugs, using the 1939 British "Keep calm and carry on" poster campaign and some with a twist. Whichever your favorite is, there is NO reasons for paper plates and disposable plastic cups.
Image 1
Image 1Image 1
Or more funky ones from

Friday, June 1, 2012

Peony, for good fortune

Visited Guldsmedsgårdens plantskola, a peony nursery, last weekend. A lovely little place to visit if you are interested in peonies. They have a wide variety of peonies that can be ordered online, ranging from a couple of hundreds kronor to more than a thousand, for Itoh Hybrid assortment.
Peonies have a very privileged place in the Chinese culture and significant meaning in feng shui art. It's often depicted in many calligraphy paintings, textile prints, porcelains, and if you fancy antiquity, a pair of 10.1cm in diameter famille rose peony bowls were auctioned off for more than $2.8 million at the Christie's.

Photo by the Christie's

Often praised for its compassion and nobility, the flower earned a very high status in the Chinese history and culture, so much so that it is sometimes known as the "King of flowers". The flower also carry special meanings in other cultures, and not the least to mention, the symbol for the 12th wedding anniversary.

For fortune and good luck, place an object with peonies like a flower pot at home, or simply a bouquet of fresh peonies, paired with orchid.
Photo by Bonnie Yap

Friday, May 18, 2012

Colors and warmth are what we need

Spring is here (though not the warmth), it's time to rid the dull, grey wintry cold by introducing some colors and vibrance in our homes. I felt in love with Josef Frank's colorful and joyful design. Born Austrian, Josef Frank later migrated to Sweden and became the chief designer at Svenskt Tenn. He was considered one of the most prominent designers in the history of Swedish design, and yet his design is quite unusual for the more commonly known sleek and well-defined Scandinavian style. Perhaps that was why I like it so much.
Josef Frank Teheran White matched with plain red linen fabric for colors and vibrance. To add the Oriental touch, I added red Chinese button knots to the other pillow cases.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Idea for "mors dag" present?

Mors dag (Mother's Day in Sweden) falls on the 27 May this year - a different date than the more commonly celebrated elsewhere - first Sunday in May.

For my mother-in-law, it will be a gift from Happy Gift. Question is, will it be something for herself or something for the home (which she likes as well)? A Bodylicious with frangipani and grapefruit body smoothie, body souffle and soap; or a bottle of chamomile diffuser in a luxurious glass bottle, by True Grace?

A pampering Bodylicious kit;

Or the luxurious Chamomille diffuser for home

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where the fusion officially begins

My “fusion” perhaps officially began at our weddings with “double happiness”. I couldn’t bear the thought of "fusing" the two traditions – Chinese and Swedish - and have one wedding. Two contradictory traditions, two families and friends half the world apart, two mothers (my mother and mother-in-law)….  so two weddings it is! Of course, it wouldn’t be a 100% authentic Swedish or Chinese either, as the other half is not. So we introduced subtly each other’s cultural elements in the ceremonies.

Wedding stationeries: wedding programme in red (Chinese wedding or good luck color) and embossed “double happiness”. The same theme in the invitation cards to our Swedish guests and placement cards for the reception.

Although the character “double happiness” is most commonly used for weddings, it is not uncommon to find home decor with the same character such as porcelain vases, cabinets, and pillow cases. Today, “double happiness” is not something that is exclusively for Chinese homes or for weddings, but is also commonly used in Feng shui practice for Love or Happiness. 
A pair of Chinese urns bought at a local auction

Photo album wrapped in Chinese fabric - a nice present idea

East meets west

It’s fascinating and interesting how our everyday life is so commonly influenced by the different cultures other than our own. After been living in Sweden for more than ten years, some part of me have become more Swedish than an average Svensson; while the other part of me cling on to the traditions and cultures I was raised in for the first 20 years of my life, as it is my identity – a mix of Chinese traditions, infused with Malaysian culture.

Now and again I come across Swedish home designs applying feng shui (closest pronunciation I could find online to the word, which literally means, wind water) practice; and I am captivated by how Asians (or the world) are entranced by perhaps the most exported Swedish home designs you can find – IKEA.

My blog will be dedicated to the best of both world – Western (Swedish) and Oriental (Chinese, Malaysian/South East Asia), and my passion for home design, but who knows I might throw in some recipes, travels,or write a few words about what I believe would be Swedes’ second most favorite flower – orchid (almost everyone gives orchids when they are invited to home-cook meals in Sweden). First being tulips, of course - ONE MILLION tulips are sold in Sweden a day! It is the highest per capita, more than the largest exporting country – the Netherlands itself!

Speaking of tulips – lovely tulips blooming in the garden, and I couldn’t help it but cut a few and put them in the house. They last much longer than the ones you buy in the stores.