Hooby Groovy is back from holiday! I've had a brilliant holiday in Malaysia with my family and childhood friends. This time around, we spent most of the trip in my hometown of Petaling Jaya, Selangor with a small 5 day trip to Penang to visit my sister and her new baby. It wasn't a highly exciting holiday, we didn't really do or discover anything new. But I was really happy to be with my family and friends and to revisit old haunts from my childhood. So without further ado, here's a few bits and pieces from my trip.
Our first taste of Chinese New Year was right here in Australia at the Melbourne Airport. I think the troupe was under some kind of directive that they couldn't be too loud though as the drum and cymbal players looked like they were trying their best to play as softly as they could, which made everything sound quite subdued and slow. Which meant instead of a Lion Dance, the lion was just sort of doing a casual stroll.
Chinese New Year: lion dances, red packets, firecrackers....and COOKIES! I love Chinese New Year cookies, that one in the jar in the middle of the front row was my absolute favourite this year. It was such an amazing peanut-y, melt in your mouth joy. Naughty joy but joy nonetheless!
Best fruit in the universe? Mangosteens! These weren't really in season but my dad managed to find some in the night market and bought some for me knowing these are my absolute favourites. So good! I may be deeply biased but tropical fruits are the bomb!
On the very last day before leaving Melbourne, I suddenly had this urge to make a small colouring book for my nieces. I drew about 4 pictures and added extra blank pages and bound it up as a 'colouring/sketch book'. One of my little nieces reciprocated by making this for me! :D Ee Ee is what my nieces and nephews call me. The word "Yi" (or however it's phonetically spelt) means aunt in Hokkien and is usually preceded by the order of said aunt. For example, my oldest sister is called Tua Yi meaning oldest aunty, my second sister is Ji Yi meaning second aunty. As the youngest in my family, I got Yi-Yi but my nieces and nephews seem to spell it with Ee Ee, I think it probably has something to do with my real name lol. Anyway, this little booklet contains several Dora the Explorer stickers followed by a blank page and my directions were that I would have to use the Dora stickers as reference and well 'copy and colour' them. :)
One of the fun things we did with my friends was Escape Dungeon. The concept is that you get to choose a scenario, we chose one called Trapped. And then we get locked into this 'dungeon' and we have to find clues and work through puzzles in order to escape. We had heaps of laughs and we did manage to escape YAY! The scenario was meant to have a 4/5 rating for horror, which it had none whatsoever, so that was a little disappointing. I think they could have tweaked a few things to make it scarier. Nonetheless it was a fun day out with my friends. I've known this lot since we were 11 years old and now 20 years later, they're still very much my best friends!
My new niece!! She was just born about 1 week before we arrived in Malaysia, so was not even 1 month old when we met her. She is super adorable! Fluffy cheeks and cute little gurgly sounds, ah I am one proud Ee Ee alright! She's pictured here with the bunny that we bought for her. I'm hoping that she will adopt her new bunny as her BFF so that there's always a part of us with her since we don't get to see her all that often.
While staying in Penang, one day we drove out and just as we were about to hit the nearest main road, we were greeted by a herd of cows casually strolling around. I have no idea where they came from! There are no farms or villages close by, this area is a pretty standard suburb district. They must be quite the city yuppie cows, as you can see in the background, they were visiting Starbucks. Apparently, they're quite common visitors to the grassy patch outside of Starbucks!
One Sunday afternoon was spent indoors painting pictures with one of my nieces. It was huge fun but I did learn that kids are really impatient! They kept telling me to hurry up. "Faster Ee Ee! Go faster!" And then at one point, I must have tested her patience too much because she decided that she would help me paint my picture. So I very quickly learnt not to get attached to any artworks that are being created with kids. :)
While in Penang, I made time to visit the Penang Buddhist Association to pay my respects to my grandparents. I haven't had the chance to go in the past few years so it felt good to be able to say "Hi" once again. :)
Back in PJ and on the very last full day we had in Malaysia, we visited the Farm in the City with my oldest sister and her family. It was basically a petting zoo and they had some pretty cool animals. Like these giant tortoises that we fed. When we were planning our visit, I thought that my niece and nephew would absolutely love the place. My nephew did but his sister did the funniest freak-outs! She was terrified of all the animals that were running free (which were most of them...) One of her very dramatic observation was that "This is like a zoo with no cages! I was NOT expecting this!" and her funniest freak-outs was when she saw a chicken running around. She screamed "Chicken!" and clung to my sister's legs. It may be mean to laugh at her fears but...funniest thing ever!
Two very wise-looking prairie dogs peering into the future, also at the Farm in the City. :)
Sorry for the lack of photos, I didn't really take many photos this trip. Actually funny story, I brought my Fujifilm X100 camera with me, thinking I might take some nice photos. But didn't end up using it at all until the very last day, when I brought it along to the Farm in the City. I saw all these awesome animals and fired up my camera only to realise I'd completely forgotten to bring an SD card along with my camera! Doh!
Well, it's good to be back in Melbourne, though I am still a little struck by post-holiday blues. But I'm right back in the thick of things so can't wait to share what I've been working on with all of you! :)
Where did July disappear to?? I can't believe today's the last day of July already! It felt just like yesterday when I got back from my holiday in Malaysia but it's actually already been about a month and a half. Well, before I say bye-bye to July, here's my June in Pictures!
So June started off, well in the pool! We heralded in the month at Club Med and spent a few very lazy days lounging in the pool. Here's me chilling out with my sisters.
It was really nice being with my family in Club Med. We made sure to squeeze in a nice, fancy dinner the night before our time at Club Med was up.
We dropped by the Turtle Sanctuary on our way back to Kuala Lumpur. Turtles are just so awesome. I could watch them flapping their flippers through the water all day long, it was so calming to watch!
As I mentioned before, we also headed to Penang and spent a very, very hot day exploring Georgetown and its street art.
Alas, it was time to leave my family and hometownand get back to work! I jumped straight back into it and it's been non stop since!
I was definitely not pleased to return to Melbourne and discover how very, very cold winter had suddenly become! Am I just getting old and frail or has Melbourne been getting much colder in winter lately? And hotter in summer??
I got a new computer!! My old PC has been with me since 2005 so it was definitely time for an upgrade. I've been eyeing this 27in iMac for a long time now. It's so pretty! :)
I was commissioned to create a Domo-kun case! I love Domo-kun and was super excited to finally get a chance to work on him.
Phew, made this blog post in time by the skin of my teeth, just in time before July finishes! See you all in August! :)
May was wonderful, because it was holiday time! Winter started in Melbourne with a vengeance, so I wasn't at all sad to leave it behind for lovely sunny tropical Malaysia.
But before going on holiday, I had a few creations to complete, including a very fun Miffy MacBook case! Here's a sneak peek!
My holiday mascot, this is Ms Turtling (geddit? Turtle + Ee-Leng? :D Oh never mind... :p) Chosen for the laid-backness of turtles, turtles = beaches and oceans and I'm a very slow moving person. :)
I like to leave a drawing behind on the airplane. Unfortunately, on the flight back to Melbourne, I wasn't provided with a puke-bag to draw on. What if I got sick??
We hung out heaps with our niece and nephew and drank a whole lot of Bubble Tea.
I tried my hand a Chinese Brush Painting and of course chose a familiar subject. :) I don't think I was doing proper brush painting, more like water colouring with Chinese brush painting materials.
We visited the nearby Siamese Buddhist temple on the eve of Wesak Day.
We visited a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy to keep up with our training. More photos available at Fighting Butter Bee
A huge part of the holiday was a family trip to Club Med in Cherating where we spent 4 days lazing around the beach resort.
Yeap, May was infinitely lovely. :)
I recently got back from my annual trip to Malaysia to visit my family. It was a wonderful and happy trip and I wanted to share my holiday photos.
Our whole family went on a short holiday to Club Med in Cherating to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday. It was a few days of complete relaxation and just hanging around with my family.
Relaxing with my sisters in the pool overlooking the beautiful East Coast beach.
The Club Med staff came out in full force with cake, singing and clapping for my dad's birthday. My nieces and nephews rushed over in full force too at the sight of cake and candle. :p
There were many other non-human guests at Club Med, this friendly monkey was chilling around the corridors near our room.
We made sure to stop by the Turtle Sanctuary to see the beautiful turtles.
Besides Cherating, we also visited Penang for a few days. I didn't get to go to Penang when I was in Malaysia last year and I had been sorely missing Penang so it was great to be able to get my Penang itch scratched.
We explored Georgetown looking for the various street art installations that have been popping up around the old parts of town.
We ate a LOT! This is a Chicken Chop, my husband's favourite Malaysian dish. It was created by the Hainanese Chinese as a version of "Western Food" for when Penang was a British Colony. I love this dish too, but I prefer it with Black Pepper Sauce. :)
We visited Suffolk House, an old Colonial era mansion, where my nieces went wild posing for photos in the lovely garden.
We also spent some time at the Penang Batik Factory, trying out hands at painting some Batik scarves.
We managed to fit in a quick visit to the Botanical Gardens, where we were greeted with more monkeys. They may look cute, but the monkeys here are quite vicious. But it's alright as long as you aren't carrying any food or attempting to take food from them.
All in all, it was a lovely holiday to Malaysia. It flew by way too quickly, as all holidays have a tendency of doing, and there were a billion things that I had wanted to do but didn't get around to it. Never mind, there's always next year and every year beyond. I was just very happy that I got to spend heaps of time with my family and playing with my cute little nieces and nephews.
Our Family Portrait for 2013
April has been beautiful! Autumn finally kicked in and Melbourne is never more beautiful than in autumn. The ground is littered with orange, yellow and red leaves and because we get some crazy wind here, there's often beautiful spirals of leaves floating around in the sky. And so, here's what my April was all about:
After weeks of making sure to maintain my weight for the competition, it was time for a feast once it was over! This was the pork platter at one of my favourite Melbourne restaurants, Cookie.
April was quite a big month for bespoke creations and this one was a really cute and fun one. I'll post more photos of this bespoke My Melody case later.
It was a busy month but I made sure to set aside some relaxing doodling time.
I also forayed into the world of T-shirt design, here's my first trial at designing a T-shirt print. This design showcases some very stylised forms of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu choke attacks.
We spent a beautiful ANZAC Day by taking a nice long walk around the city and our walk took us to Fitzroy Gardens and the miniature Tudor Village in the center of the gardens.
I always try to route my driving to lead me past parks and gardens to enjoy the beautiful trees during autumn. :)
My brother-in-law and his partner were dog-sitting for a friend and I couldn't resist a chance to make a new friend with this super adorable, super friendly and super big dog! Giant dogs are the best! :)
How was your month of April?
Growing up, I had many ideas for my dream house. And I didn't just have one dream house, there were many. Mansions, cosy cottages, modern penthouse apartments, I had ideas for all the different types of houses I could have. My taste has changed over the years along with my ideas for a dream house. I used to hold luxurious marble floors and carpet on a pedestal, now I crave wooden floors or polished concrete. Windows with long heavy curtains have been replaced by floor to ceiling glass, with a good view of course.
There's one dream house that existed in my imagination when I was little and when I first set eyes on it in 2007, it was still very much my dream house. Well actually it surpassed my idea of a dream house. I got the chance to visit it again in 2011 and yep, still my dream house. This house isn't just any house though, it's actually a museum, specifically the Ghibli Museum
. The museum is a fine art museum dedicated to the works of Studio Ghibli, that magically amazing animation studio that has created some of the best animated movies ever like My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, etc.
The Ghibli Museum is located in Inokashira Park in Mitaka, a fairly quiet residential suburb in Tokyo. On an unrelated note, I just found out that Mitaka has a population of 176k in an area of 16.5 km sq while Melbourne City has a population of 90k in an area of 36 km sq. Half the population, double the area! This is comparing a quiet residential suburb of Tokyo with a dense metropolitan city in Australia!
Anyway, back to the museum. :) The Ghibli Museum was opened in 2001 and was designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli and director/writer of many famous Ghibli works such as My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away, my favourite Ghibli films. The magic of the Ghibli Museum isn't just in the exhibits on show though, I love it more for the actual building itself. It is the most wonderful whimsical, cosy, magical little cottage. There's little nooks and crannies and delightful little secrets just waiting to be explored. There's tiny spiral staircases, hidey holes, little tunnels through walls, and just so much charm packed into this delightful, bright and airy cottage.
You can get to the museum by walking for about 15 minutes from Mitaka Station (which is only about a 20 minute train ride from Shinjuku Station). There's also a bus you can take from the train station to the museum but I highly recommend the walk because it's a nice opportunity to see the quiet neighbourhood, and you can never get lost because Totoro will guide you along:
There's one of these signs every 200m along the road until you reach the museum
Guests aren't allowed to take any photos within the building, which is a great idea actually. Here's the closest thing I have to a photo of the inside of the house: A photo of a photo in my museum guide book:
But outdoors, we could go nuts with photos. There's so many little treasures to be found everywhere and it's all in the little fine details that make this museum so very charming!
Why can't all manhole covers look like this?
There's an old school water pump in the courtyard for everyone to play with
Imagine entering the magical world of Kiki's Delivery Service just by stepping through a little iron gate in your backyard.
I'd be doing dishes and washing my hands all day long if I had Jiji taps in my home!
We're being spied on!
View of the museum from the rooftop
The Giant Robot Soldier on the rooftop stands guard over the museum
It really is GIANT!
A bit more about the indoor parts of the museum, there is a huge Catbus on the top floor of the museum. Unfortunately, it's only for kids to play with, no adults allowed. :'(. I could only watch as all the kids climbed in and out and on top of the soft, fluffy Catbus, picking up sootballs on the way. I weighed up the pros and cons of running in past the museum guide on duty and jumping into the Catbus but decided I really didn't want to be thrown out of the Ghibli Museum and not allowed back in ever.
Another really special thing that I loved was the theatre. You can watch a short Ghibli film in the theatre that is exclusive to the museum and can't be viewed anywhere else. The short film is always changing so as we visited the museum in 2007 and 2011, we got to watch 2 different short films. And typical Ghibli, both were charming and cute and for that few minutes, dissolved all grown up cares in the world.
I don't have too many photos of all the lovely charming things in the museum, but I found a blog post
by a fellow handmade designer if you want to see more photos of the museum.
If you get the chance to visit Tokyo, I'd definitely recommend the Ghibli Museum
as a must-see. And if you're travelling from overseas, make sure to book your tickets to the museum before you travel to Japan. Save a good chunk of your day for this museum, you can easily spend hours on end here exploring and discovering all the lovely treasures this museum has to offer.
When I grow up and build my own house, it's going to be just like this! :)
March was HOT! And not in a good way. Endless days of sweltering heat and feeling like I might just melt in my non-air-conditioned workshop.
But there were some fun outdoor days too, like going fishing at Maribyrnong River. We didn't catch anything (not even sure if its a river that's suitable for fishing!) but there were pretty starfishes to look at in the shallower parts of the river.
And we also got a last-minute summer picnic in on a terrifyingly hot 40 deg C day at Fitzroy Gardens. It was nice under the big, shady trees and it was a very lazy picnic of just lying on the mats eating various yummy Asian snacks.
It wasn't all fishing and picnics though. March was a very raccoon-y month!
Some of the raccoons got a trip to Sydney alongside various other Hooby Groovy cases to be sold at one of Monster Threads' stores.
I got my first ever video review from the fabulous polagram for this bespoke Kaonashi iPhone case that I created for her.
I started a new book, one of the great classical Chinese novels, Journey to the West which is the story of the Monkey King or Monkey God. I'm slowly chipping away at it, I love all the Monkey King stories. :)
I decided to start a personal blog titled "Fighting Like a Butter Bee" to journal my life in martial arts and I created a Butter Bee avatar for my blog. I also started up a new Instagram account under the name @fightingbutterbee for the martial arts part of my life.
March ended with Easter weekend. This year, we were conscious of maintaining our weight for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition (more news on that in next month's In Pictures post) and so it wasn't as chocolatey or hot cross bun-y as I would have liked. So I decided to overload on bunnies instead! :)
Next month, I shall try my best to get these In Pictures posts out as soon as the month ends, rather than half way through the next month lol!