Wednesday, December 30, 2009

diy updates: baby accessories

G has been busy getting the house ready for the babies arrival. You saw the cornices already...and we'll update other things when they're finished. But i wanted to take a second to update you on some baby accessories i've made over the past month.

since there are no newborns nearby, everything is being modeled by other friends! thanks to snuggles, whisker, and david the bear.

baby tutu

baby bear hat

baby tutu and baby bear hat (and another gumdrop pillow I just made)

baby winter hats

baby mary janes with real pearls!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

curvaceous pelmet boxes

Of all the projects we've done, this is one of the ones we're most proud of. When all is said and done, I think the babies room is going to be the dopest room in the house.

For a long time, I wanted to put up a cornice box - also called a pelmet box - above some of the windows in our condo. G and I had done some planning, and we mostly knew how to do it. The problem was that G said we don't have a jigsaw so we couldn't build a cornice with a shape that I like, it would have to just be a rectangle. It wasn't exactly what I hoped for, but G said it was the only way.

But because this was going to be the first cornice in our home, and it was going to be in the babies room, I never gave up hope we could find a way to have a shape. If it was for our bedroom instead, maybe I would have accepted the plain front, but for this room, I was motivated to figure it out.

Just a couple days before we were planning to start on building them, I found a tutorial online that said you could make a beautiful pelmet out of just foamcore! That makes it easy to carve any shape you want! Isn't that a great idea? It's inexpensive and you can choose any shape you want, which allowed us to splurge on the fabric.

When I told G this idea, he was a little hesitant. He didn't think it would be strong - and he also prefers using wood because he thinks it's more tough and manly. But he changed his mind when he realized how much I really wanted some kind of style other than a rectangle on it. Thats something great about me & G together: I tell him what I want, and he helps me make it happen. Without him, I don't feel I can finish any projects. Without me, he doesn't ever want to start any projects!

Here is a step by step tutorial. We didn't do it exactly the same way the Little Green Notebook did, but hers was a good place to start.

First, we designed the front of the box. I was looking for a style that wasn't too ornate, but was still pretty. I definitely wanted a little bit of curve, not just right angles. Here's G drawing the design on foamcore. He's wearing a Randy Moss jersey in support of him since everyone else is blaming him now!

Then we used a boxcutter to cut out the right shapes, and used duct tape to connect them pieces together. This is G looking proud of the job he did!

Instead of using all foamcore like the other site, we compromised and used wood on the back so it's sturdier. The wood keeps the front from bending and also is the piece that attached to the wall.

We then covered the front of each box with batting to make it puffy. After that, we wrapped it with this fabric. Initially, we were going to use an amy butler fabric for this project, but based on the design of the fabric and the style of the cornice, they weren't a good match, so we changed our mind last minute. We looked all over the place for the right fabric, and when we finally found this one, we were excited!

Here is G using a staple gun to upholster the cornice. Can you believe it's just made of foamcore?

This is what it looks like on the window. Isn't it pretty?

So what do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

tutorial: bootleg gumdrop pillow

i've been sweating this pillow for a long time, but i could never figure out how to make it. i surfed all over the internet for the bootleg version. i even borrowed amy butler's books from the library, but i couldn't find the right pattern for this pillow. just when i was about to give in and buy the pattern for the pillow...which only cost $11.99 anyway, i found a DIY tutorial for a "Moroccan pouf" online. i think it's kinda funny that it doesn't mention Amy Butler at all, when it's almost exactly her pattern, just a couple inches different in size.

When i saw it, it looked so similar to Amy Butler's pouf, that I asked G to reverse engineer and figure out how to change the free bootleg pattern to be more the right size of the amy butler version. that way it looks even more like the original one that i liked in the first place.

BTW, i did support amy butler herself by buying her fabric. a lot of the babys room is going to be done using her fabrics. but the reason i didn't want to buy the pattern is both me & G don't like paying money for ideas. Ideas should be free and we should share them freely!

Here is our process step by step.

First, cut out 8 pieces of fabric in this shape. The design we chose had some regular features, so we tried to make each piece identical. we could have been a little more random, but I wanted the uniform look.

Sew them together like this in pairs, also sew the diagonal edges together but not all the way to leave space to stuff it later. Then sew the pairs together until you have the outer casing of the pillow.


Then start stuffing with whatever kind of stuffing you got. I used polyester fiberfil, although amy butler suggests using some natural stuffing that would cost $100 just for the filling!

It's a convenient time capsule too. We're going to let our kids open it when they turn 21. So we also put in a bottle of gin...

...a Bruce Lee DVD in honor of their dad's favorite guy...

...and a Justin Timberlake bobblehead given to me by Auntie kay.

Next, make a cover for that hole. It could be any shape, we chose something like an octagon.

We're going to make another one for the nursery.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Road Trip Down Memory Lane

Note from new contributor Grouchy G: Just because S hasn't updated here in a long time doesn't mean she hasn't had stuff to update about. As many of yall know, there have been plenty of life changes for us, so free time to spend on the internets has been hard to come by. So she invited me to be her co-conspirator on this here blog, so there is less pressure for frequent updating, but so that we can still try to keep family and friends up to date with what's going on, specifically, what projects we got in and out of our hands.

I have guest posted on this blog before, but now I'm a real partner on it! This is really what I wanted all along. So below, I present to you my first entry as an official Home Engineer. (Holla!)

On Saturday, I had a show at Amherst College. S and I met and became friends as students at UMass-Amherst, so we made the trip together and visited some of our old favorite places.

It was very meaningful actually. This was the 12th annual Voices for the Voiceless poetry concert, and I've been to about 7 of them. Maybe 8, maybe 6. I dunno, but a lot. It's one of my favorite shows to do every year because of the quality of poets and the attentive crowd. But usually, I drive right back to Boston after the show is over - but now that S came with me, we decided to take advantage of the school's offer for a hotel room and stay the night.

Moreover, old friend Shaggy Flores was there, and he was on point. Shaggy is a UMass grad also, who also met his wife in college. They brought their beautiful 5 year-old girl with them too. There are many parallels between myself and Shaggy. We both went to UMass, both moved to DC after graduation - we even were working about 3 blocks from each other. We both have masters degrees, and both are dope. We also both have our share of haters at our alma mater.

Also Bao was there, and he's one of my closest friends in the world. Bao & I have never done Voices together, although we've both appeared multiple times. And since he and his partner J just had their first child 6 weeks ago, it's wonderful to be able to spend time with him as we're getting ready to grow our family.

Also, two legends of Nuyorican poetry were there: Louis Reyes Rivera (amazing as always) and Americo Casiano (my first tiem meeting him) - both were phenomenal. I also got to meet Mwalim, who teaches spoken word and many other things at UMass-Dartmouth. Since I teach a simialr thing at UMass-Boston, we're like UMass brothers. I am definitely gonna hit him up for some knowledge about how to navigate that whole system.

But anyway, the rest of the weekend was focused on - what else? - food. So here we here we go:
Two slices each at Antonio's! Wow, it's been almost 10 years since we had this! Still just as good as we remembered. Maybe even better. Nom nom nom.

Amazing food from Santiago's Family Restaurant in Westfield. They catered the show. Ooooooooooooooh. Damn the pork belly is my JOINT. Even though I try to be pretty health conscious, the Chinese in me makes me unable to resist pork belly and extra oil in everything. Their food was seriously bomb tho. Full plate an hour after two slices at Antonio's.

S did leave the show a little early to catch up with our old friend from college Malis. And to see her beautiful family. Malis moved to Amherst for college, then never left! it was great to see her. After the show, we got calzones from DP Dough. We ate them so fast we forgot to take pictures.

Next morning we hit the Korean Restaurant on Route 9 in Hadley. We wondered if it would be as good now that we're older and get good pretty good Korean food near our home, or can get bomb Korean food every time we're in NYC or LA.

Nope, it was just as good we remembered. Mmmmmm.

Cider Donuts from Atkins Farm.

Yes I will have another.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

what a monstrosity!

From the time we first moved in, I've always known that I wanted a chandelier in the dining room. I was little embarrassed about liking such over the top (tacky) opulence that was why I was wavering. It took me almost 3 years to finally decide on it. All the blogs I saw on line and all the home decor magazines didn't like big crystal chandeliers.they even made fun of it. Finally I decided that I'm not going to care what the trend is. I’ve always wanted a I’m going to get it!

I get the love of ornate decorations from my mom. she watches a little too much thai movies! they all take place in a beautiful mansion!

When we got it in the mail, we were surprised that it weighed 60 lbs. G was nervous about hanging it from the ceiling. So before we put it up, he tied 60 lbs of weight plates to the ceiling. After a day, it didn’t fall out so we knew it was safe to put it up. Every little piece of the chandelier was separate. We thought it was going to come partly assembled but all the wires had to be attached and we have to be extra delicate because they're hand cut crystal.

When G connected all 18 lights he said what a MONSTROSITY!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Before my travel to the Pacifics, G and I embarked on a new project together. We hand painted Yuri Kochiyama in her younger days. If you don't know who Yuri is, she became a civil rights activist in the 60's. She and her husband Bill were in the internment camps in WWII, and later got active with the Harlem Parents Committee, and later Malcolm X died as she cradled his head. She is almost 90 years old and still active, writing letters to political prisoners.

She is the most prominent Asian American civil rights activist ever. The style of the painting is that we didn't use any brushes - it's all made by dipping our hands in paint and putting it on the canvas. We wanted to ask other friends to participate by putting their hands on the painting too because it's a tribute - in the same way her hands laid the foundation for our work, our hands can honor her contributions.

We were partly inspired by the work of modern american artist,Chuck Close, who recreated photos with paint, by concentrating on tiny pieces - one dot at a time. But instead of using fingertips, we used our whole hands.

But most of all, it means a lot to us because me & G met when we were at UMass. Chuck Close used to teach there. The Asian American center there is called the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center. I think most of us who put our hands on the painting, we learned who Yuri was when we were in college, when we developed our Asian American political identity. It all comes together, and this project was the perfect thing for us to do together!

With me & G as the lead artists, we've had contributions from: VyVy Trinh, Theresa Vu, Chengyang Lor, Mike Keo, Wameng Lor, Theresa Hwang, Sophea Khem, Eugene Shih, Chun Fai Chan, Chintra Pich, Lyna Sun, Christophe Lim, Pywat Tan, Mealear Tan, and Morodoc Tan.

On May 19, Yuri turns 88 years old: that's the day we bring this project to a close.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grown-Up Party #2

G and I started drinking wine after we got married. we thought that drinking wine would make us look's kind of like smoking for 13 year olds, but for married couples.

the first bottle of wine we bought was on our honeymoon. we had a yellowtail shiraz in maui...and we hated it! we thought it tasted so terrible, and we didn't know why yellowtail was a popular brand.

but last week we tried yellowtail shiraz again, and we liked it this time! imagine that! i guess we didn't develop a tongue for wine yet when we first got married, but over the past 3 years, we learned how to drink it.

so this past weekend, we held a winetasting party to honor my brother's birthday. it was called "Plonkasaurus Rex." Plonk is a term used to mean the cheapest wine you can find, so we encouraged all guests to bring a bottle of wine under $12 and we would rate them and find winners.

the categories were: best red, best white, best new world, best dressed, and ultimate champion. my cuz lyna won 4 of the 5 with the salice salentino. and chloe won for best white with her delceoro. congratulations to the winners!

also, it wouldn't be a tek production if there wasn't a lot of food! my cousins kunthea and sokea helped by rolling shrimp and pork summer rolls, and G made his famous junk food sliders (little baby hamburgers) and soleak and map helped assemble the mini fish and steak tacos. chintra made a fruit salad - eaten by my sister's kids before any other guests arrived! i also made a khmer beef dish called kaw-koh, stewed with anise, clove, paprika, and secret ingredients for several hours, and served with vienna bread.

also, dessert was brought by sabrina (lollipop cheesecake) and chloe (cheesecake cheesecake) - and a birthday sheet cake for my brother and my cousin. look at the ridiculous picture on the cake. i told the guy to make the guy's skin brownish yellow because he's asian, but he just used regular white people color and did this to his eyes! this doesn't look like my brother at all! when G picked up the cake, he called to tell me, but he was laughing too hard.

Check out this slideshow, taken by my favorite photographer-Eugene and his crew-delia, theresa, hsindy and victor.

look below for some more pictures: