Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Day 106-Anew

A New Year
A New Blog
Another Beginning...
In the beginning....
My brother, Win, was the very 1st person I sought to help me with the building of my palace. He bowed out after Xander was born but not before he handed me a set of drawings for the palace.

In the next beginning...

My brother saw how messy my blog has become through the eyes of my new Mac and decided to build me a new blog. Not just the design, which was by him but also the really time consuming debugging and error mining. Staring at my blog now, I remember vividly how I felt when I got that 1st set of drawings from him. The same excitement and thrill, pride. And love.

It is almost a tradition now. A gift from my brother, every new year, for my Maharaja's Palace. So here he is, dressed befittingly for the inauguration of my new blog, ladies and gentlement, my talented brother, Win with his gorgeous wife:

And in honour of my brother's artistry, please allow me to share with you The Maharaja's Palace artist-of-the year, Edwin Lord Weeks, a most celebrated American Orientalist . I have picked 96 pieces of his work . They are mainly of the everyday life in early 19th century India ( 1893-1895) with some on Morocco and Persia. I hope they inspire you as much as they did me. It will be a dream come true if one day, I am able to recreate some of his paintings in miniatures.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Day 105- X'mas Eve

Part 1

The rules for Rosanna's swap were simple: It's a circle swap ( Sabiha to me, me to Paola). Send out your gift by 8/12/09 in an unusual box and Sabiha did just that. Rather unusual for the reliable Singpost, I did not receive the gift a week after and then I got sick and didn't go to work (my mailing address is my office) the whole of this week.

Christmas eve came crashing early, thanks to my laptop who apparently also wanted a rest and though I had wanted to spend a quiet Xmas doing nothing but read in bed, the thought of not "connecting" was too scary. So I dressed up and drove my conked out laptop to the service center which was just next to my office. Yes, over here, some of us work normal hours on Xmas Eve!

The bad news is I will have to wait 1-2 months for a new graphics card which had died and until then, the laptop is useless. Badly needing some good news, I dropped by the office and true enough, on my in-tray were 2 parcels. One of them was Sabiha's gift.

Sabiha had asked me what I would like which I could use for my project. I told her since the Maharajah's Palace is to be set in late Victorian British India (19th-early 20th century), maybe something which a British family then would have in their house. And so the talented Sabiha deftly put together the most darling little scene in a tin Christmas box with Teddy.

I fiddled a little with the arrangements (which were fixed with blu-tac) and thought eventually when I am making a house for a British family living in India, their baby girl's room will have a little Sabiha-corner, celebrating Christmas 1911.

I already know what the baby's name is and there, you can see it scrawled in one of the Christmas cards.

And for that Christmas, the precocious little Sabiha would be gifted her 1st picture book, made specially readable by her namesake.

Until then, the box will sit in the corner of my craft table, reminding me everyday that I have a million exciting projects in the pipeline.

Thank you, Sabiha, for this wonderful gift in a most unusual box.

Rosanna's Swap Part 2
I must confess I was a little anxious over the gift that I was supposed to make for Paola. She has a food blog, no mini obsession like all of us and speaks no English. You won't believe the number of times I surfed her blog to try and find some inspiration.1 week before the due date to post, I finally sent an SOS email to Rosanna who knew Paola well.

Sweet darling Rosanna came to my rescue and suggested sending her some spices. That has to be one of the top tips for year 2009! Spices from The Maharajah's Palace! Of course! And since I don't cook and won't know the difference between curry powder and saffron, I enlisted the help of my good friend, Treewizard Chris, who once boasted that he makes to- die- for curries.

Off we went to Little India, bought the essential ingredients to make 3 different types of curries and then spent an hour at Chris' workshop repacking the ingredients into colourful chiffon sachets.

My "unusual" box is a mooncake box. The Chinese celebrates the Mooncake Festival or Mid Autumn Festival by having a feast of mooncakes and tea under a full moon with children carrying lanterns. There are many legends attached to this Festival but the one I like is the love story between Chang Er and her husband.

I haven't heard from Paola but I hope Rosanna can translate all the above to her.

Thanking you in advance, Rosanna.

Rosanna's Gift
The 2nd parcel was from Rosanna, thoughtful and sweet as usual, she sent me a beautiful card depicting Genoa during my British India era-1850. She gave me too, the cutest finger puppets and this gorgeous issue of Art & Decoration (how did she know I love ID magazines from Italy?)

with a little bit of India


the mini version...

readable of course.

Thank you again, Rosanna.

I am so , so fortunate because apart from all these wonderful gifts, there were also something from Helene, Mari and Bendik but I want to do a special post on their presents. Then there's a card from Katie with mini pictures of the real ones she took....not to mention presents from family and friends.

I spent the rest of Christmas Eve buying a Macbook (love love love my Mac) with the help from my brother and a dear friend so I can make this post. We then watched two movies in a row, Sherlock Holmes and Avatar (I love both movies so much. In fact, I watched Avatar again on Christmas Day with Andrew, this time, the 3D version ).

I came home in the wee hours, logged onto my new laptop and then sent my Xmas Greetings to my blog friends. Many of you made me smile with your Xmas posts.

T'was a perfect end to an already perfect Xmas Eve.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Day 104-Dale's Royal Beddings

There is a Chinese saying that goes something like "Big illness is unfortunate but little illness is fortunate" because you are pampered and you get to stay in bed. I have been in bed since Sunday and today is already Wednesday. It's small illnesses. A flu that would not go away, caught it since before I left for Bangkok on the 12th. And hives. Big, angry, red, itchy hives that are finally fading after 3 days. I just read on Wiki that hives sometimes accompany cold. 1st time I got them with a cold.

Anyway, with all these small illnesses, all I did was stay in bed, watch TV, sleep. Very, very fortunate although I could not keep awake thanks to the antihistamines that caused drowsiness.

I am feeling much better today and thought this an opportune moment to introduce a set of beautiful beddings (plural because although it is only one, it is reversible so it's like having two!!) I had won from Dale's Dream Dip. I actually won a US$20 voucher to Dale's Etsy Shop. It's a beautiful shop with many wonderful hand crafted miniatures, all made by Dale. I was however unable to find anything Indian enough and dear sweet Dale went through her collection of exotic cloth and came up with 2 pieces of blue and red paisley silky cloth which she made into the front and back of 1 bedding, 1 bolster and 2 pillows. Her parcel arrived on the day I returned from Bangkok, the 16th and I can now swear by her great craftsmanship. The bedding was sewn on all 4 sides and I could not tell which end was handsewn and which were machined. So Dale, if you need a reference, I am it!

If I have these royal cloth for beddings and pillows, I betcha I won't be getting any hives! Thank you, Dale, thank you very much!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Day 103-The First Year

Birthday Cake- 2009
Gift from FaiZ & MarJ
for my birthday many moons back

On 8th December 2009, "Dollhouse Diaries" celebrates its 1st anniversary. I have such great plans for this day. Alas, my ambitions exceed both my will and my strength/s..again.

I was reading through some early entries in this journal and reflecting on how far I have come.In some respect, it felt like I have not moved an inch. This was what I wrote on Day 1

"TODAY is the start of my journey to an ambitious endeavour. I am going to create my Maharajah's palace. This was a decision I made last night.I don't have a name for my dollhouse yet but I guess we shall call it Maharajah Palace for now...."

1 year on, apart from the addition of the word "My", the project still has no name. Or roof or walls or floors. Time for some reflection.

More gifts from Faiz & MarJ

Join me? There's food of course, an anniversary buffet to entice you to stay awhile and hopefully endure a rather boring slideshow of my 1st year in the land of the dollhouses.

Dec 2008: After meeting one of Sumaiya's Indian dolls, I decided that I was going to build an Indian palace. I came up with the "Architectural Philosophy" and engaged my bro as the palace architect. He quit in the same month after delivering a 99% completed palace plan and Xander. All is not lost as SuZ did a perfect rendering of a 100% finished palace which I have been using ever since to advertise wares from the Palace. Jai Kumar,my 1st doll and the palace artisan. was born.

Jan 2009: The 1st set of dancing girls arrived, Sumaiya made Prince Raj Singh and I made my 1st ever mini, a set of goblets that could not stand and a book of love. The blog received its 1st award and I went to India for the 1st time hoping to find a builder for my palace and to visit some real ones for research.

Feb 2009: I made more books, started cross stitching and inherited the 4 Victorian dollhouses. I also spent 4 hours "arranging roses in a vase" and had to invent a story so I could blog about it . This was to be my 1st ever palace story. Feb was also the month I met Mercedes and I dedicated a flower post to her. We decided to do a swap after that post. I believe this swap shot Mercedes to instant fame. She became the hottest swapper in Blogland.

March 2009: "Grew" a tree, built a temple, populate exponentially with the addition of 30 over dolls and desperately seeking stories. The 4 main characters of the palace, Maya, Tara, Jai and Raj arrived. By the way, these are the 4 characters from the movie "Kama Sutra, A Tale of Love" by Mira Nair. Sumaiya introduced me to Kiva Atkinson and I ordered my 1st gourmet chepatis from Kiva's Kitchen.Made an Indian side table for Mercedes' perfume bottles and the Evil Maharajah was born. Started plans for how to convert the 4 Victorian houses into Indian lodgings.

April 2009: Animals for the palace! And the 1st post to receive more than 10 comments (11) excluding my own! Rolla's and Sylvia's 1st appearance and the start of naming my dolls after my friends. Taiwan and my 1st miniature museum (100 over pictures and 8 posts!) Indian desserts from Kiva's Kitchen

May 2009: Received Taenia's gift and started to write longer stories. This was the start of 2 part stories. Finally finished my 1st carpet (one of my most disastrous work). I built my 1st chairs. Sissy, the snakecharmer's pet arrived. Created Sans! Hookahs and for the 1st time, my work actually caught someone's fancy! This was one of my proudest moments and the beginning of a lifelong friendship with the Addams Family. My tent- a work in progress until today.

June 2009: Learnt to weave baskets for more flowers (the start of my flower stall?). Discovered Lego, a possible palace tomb, thanks to Helene who also loves big scenes. Electrified for the 1st time and loving it! My 1st collaboration with a 9 year old, making origami Indian mobiles to raving reviews!

July 2009: A month of gifts from Helene, Jayne and Rosanna. A trip to Thailand and the discovery of excellent "market miniatures". The gifts, Thailand and a comment from Eva form the genesis of " The Bazaar", an ongoing project created to celebrate my friends' artistry. My 1st tutorial on "How to repair to a broken doll" which I know for a fact nobody followed.

August 2009: A month of preparations for the opening of "Tallulah", a flower stall and "Ro and Rolla", a gypsy store offering music, dancing, craft and fortune telling. Gave my dolls mehndi and tattoos, built tables and royal fan, cushions and topiaries.

Sept 2009: Thailand again and found an artisan who make fruits. The beginning of mini fatigue.

Oct 2009: 1st Lottery win in blogland and Jai acquired a constant companion! Mini fatigue continues.

November 2009: With the help of many concerned blog friends who emailed me to check on how I am, I returned with a vengence! Kali, the destroyer appeared and completely demolished my fatigue. A makeover for the cats, the beginning of another stall , completing Fresh Fruits and Fine Foods, stitching again, co-host a party for my mini relatives and the most satisfying achievement of all, creating my craft room. And as luck would have it, I won another lottery, something really beautiful from the talented Dale.

December 2009: Love letters from Katie inspiring the writing of 2 love stories , one of them is this post.

What a year this has been and how my life has changed. I used to wish I started this hobby earlier in life. On reflection however, I am glad I did it when I did it on the 8/12/2008. As fate would have it, that's how and when I meet you guys and I don't want to risk any time machine warp such that I may have missed meeting any of you (97 of you actually thought this blog interesting enough!). It is clear that for me, your love and warmth is what drives me to create.

And so, a humongous Thank You to all my friends, without whom, the past 1 year would have been very uneventful and not worth blogging.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Day 102- Love Letters Bearing Gifts

2 Envelopes (1.9cm by 9cm) sitting on an upside down pot

Maya and Jai have been apart for almost seven months now. Remember RoSanNa's pillows? Well, that was the last time they saw each other.

(Gift Bags in Vintage Papers by Katrina)

Being states apart (Jai in Chandni Chowk Delhi, Maya in Rajasthan), they write each other everyday. Occasionally, their letters bear gifts. Presents that were painstakingly planned, then lovingly made and finally, carefully wrapped and sent off. So thoughtful were their gifts for each other that they usually bring with them tear jerking moments or screams of delight.

One such moment was tonight when Maya received a parcel and a long awaited letter from her beloved. She quickly settled in her favourite corner of the room and started reading. Soon, there were tears in her eye with yearning:

My darling Maya,

A million kisses from Chandni Chowk. I have missed you dearly. Have you missed me too? I dreamt of you again last night, sweet cake. I am afraid it is yet another naughty dream and I woke up shivering and screaming. In agony for missing you (at this point, Maya blushes). I shall not give you the details lest you blush. And you know how much I can't stand not being next to you when you blush. Ohhh, Mamamia, mwah mwah mwah.

I must thank you for your lovely gifts, mutton chops. One of them I am holding now in my hand as I write. The December issue of "Masala Glam" with my favourite actress, Katrina on the cover. Could it be you wanted her to keep me company? Dar-Dar, she may be Bollywood's most famous stand-in, but how can anyone take your place?

Speaking of fame, my curry puff, have you framed up the 2 pictures I gave you? Did you like the green and red frames? I bought them from a British lady who told me they are "Christmassy", whatever that means.

Back to this "girlie" magazine. (By the way, I have sent you a copy of Mahatma Gandhi's latest biography, the cover is in blue, your favourite colour) You know I hardly read these fluffy stuff, but I was at the barber's , so I read your Masala Glam from cover to cover. "8 Ways To Tell If She Really Loves You" by Roberta is particularly fascinating and I want you to take the test, Baby BuBu, by answering these questions:

What are the names you are called (should be easy for you, Cootie Koo)
What are you wearing now (ooooooh, do you want to know what I am wearing?..it is something very se
xy, ok ok, its my golden turban)
What did you do last night,
yesterday, today (hehe, you already know what I did last night...)
4. What are the 2 things you eat ( I don't really understand how what you eat equals how you love me. Maybe it is a trick question?)
Who did you wri
ng today? ( I think they mean "what")
What are the 2 things you will do today? (I know this one! Read my letter and then weep!)
7. What are your 3 favourite drinks (hmmm, another puzzling one but I have sent you some pitchers and a pot, so you can brew and boil whatever your heart desires)
8. What are your 3 wishes? (For me, I wish you were here or I was there..Argh! This is neither here nor there!)

Please do not let me wait too long for your reply. Yours longingly, Jai

Maya's reply:

Dear Jai, my Chapati, Peanut Head, Godzilla,

I am welling up again just writing your names. My heart is broken into pieces from your absence.

I am glad you have enjoyed Masala Glam but that was last year's issue and I have put it in your parcel to protect the scented candles I made you. I didn't know you like Katrina. What else haven't you told me, Pontek? Do you think she is pretty? O never mind, PooPoo, my imagination is getting the better of me. Have I told you I miss you?

I have decided to put your photo in the green frame instead of the pictures you sent which I have pinned up on the wall. I am returning you the red frame with my picture so now we have "couple" picture frames. How sweet is that? And you can throw away the silly magazine with Katrina on the cover.

You know the blue chest you sent the pot and pitchers in? I love it so much, it is now my favourite (and only) furniture in the room. But why the utensils? Do you think I should be stuck in the kitchen my whole life?

By the way, did you like the oriental cloth I sent? You didn't say anything in your last letter? I have begged, stole and borrowed to buy it. It's for your bed so don't put in on the floor (Oops!) or have you done that already?

Oh yes, and why are you wearing your golden turban? You men only dress up for weddings or funerals. Why so fancy all of a sudden?

You want to know what I am wringing? I am wringing my hands in exasperation for not knowing what's going on with you and I will wring your neck if you are messing with any of those gypsy girls you are drumming with.

I hope you know I am jealous only because I really love you.By the way, you did not say those 3 magic words in your last letter.

Lastly, I just want to tell you that all my 3 wishes have to do with you but I can't tell you what they are or they won't come true. Write me soon! Yours faithfully (emphasis added), Maya

Post Script: Sometime back, I have made a range of silver hookahs which I named after Katrina because she had inspired my creation with a comment she made. In gratitude, I have sent her one of these hookahs.
Since then, I believe poor Katrina or Katie as she is more popularly known, has been ridden with a guilt she should not feel, for not sending me something back. She has emailed me numerous time apologising and explaining that she just could not think of something that would suit my palace.
Yesterday, I received all 22 of her surprises. Like advent calendar gifts, one for each day counting down to Christmas. Every piece is painstakingly planned, lovingly made and then carefully wrapped. All of them, suitable for my palace.

Katie, I love them all and I am overwhelmed and very thankful. I hope you have enjoyed the story because this one is truly inspired by what you have done for me.

And for anyone out there curious about what I am wearing , it is .....


It is my wish that you are wearing one too.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Day 99-101-My Craft Room

Invite to Party designed by SuZ.
Theme of the party was a fusion of Fashion (Girls) and Spies (boys).
Tasha picked "fashion" as her ambition is to be a fashion designer, like SuZ. Mummy picked "Spies" for the boys and little Nathaniel.

As some of you may know from my post on Day 97, Day 99 was The Birthday Party. This day had a direct impact on my mini making, because thanks to a chain of events, today , after almost 1 year since I started this hobby, I celebrate the birth of My Craft Room!

The chain of events started with Shir, my youngest sister, asking me for help to organise a party for Tasha's 9th birthday. (Cindy, this is for you!)

Since I am incapable of organising any party in 1/2 measure, our plans became more and more elaborate with each passing day and the guest list grew and grew. Before I know it, it became a party for all Shir's 3 kids so that the other 2 will not demand for something similar when it comes to their turn.

There was to be a 2 hour long treasure hunt with 9 clues that rhyme (!!), a fashion show on a runway and a game of police and thieves, all in line with the theme. On top of that, my dining room was to become this:

and my hall was to become the runway for the catwalk. (Please do not be fooled by the title "Super Models" because as you can see, the girls are not exactly high fashion material. The catwalk was actually more to showcase my vintage bags. I gave them matching gaudy scarves, tattoos (leftover "mehndi" from my Banjaran Girls), some glitter and nail polish and they were parading my bags like old hens (sic). Yes, poor Tasha was quite offended when one of the uncles asked her "Aunty, you going to the market?"

Now in order for all that to happen, I had to move my "bazaar" to the guest room. Let me tell you, this is one room where we junked all the misfits, not quite a space to show off anything. So I had to doll it up for the party.

One of the things I did was to lug out this table base from my store room. I found this base at the dump about 500 metres from my house when I went running one morning about 6 months ago. I dragged (literally) it home (yes, people rescue strays, I do junk) because I thought it would make a great base for my craft table. All that dragging had caused the legs to be wobblier than it was. I also found out quite belatedly that it was quite an awkward shape after the 100 kg Queen Anne sat on it. After being asked a few "Are you sure?" before Neo, my man helped me move the Queen Anne, I did not want to tell him "I guessed I wasn't so sure after all despite having said "yes yes yes " rather impatiently".

Here are the pictures of the guest room on Party Day:

I knew then that the guest room would be transformed to My Craft Room. And so began 3 days of intense cajoling, compiling and constructing. There were 8 boards (Ikea last Friday), 8 stainless steel mounting strips (Builders Mart, last Saturday) and after reminding FaiZ twice today, and irritating the hell out of him, S$100 bucks worth of AA brackets (today at 7.10pm).

The cajoling was the hardest but I managed to persuade Neo and FaiZ to put up the mounting strips on Sunday.

At 9.15pm tonight, 2 hours after the brackets arrived, this is My Craft Room now:

Back Wall

New Bazaar

Books on India

Side Wall
Temple and Tree

Front Wall

"Indian Girl"/ Rolling Pin Mirror

Books on Minis

By the way, the party's not over. For those of you who have read one of my earliest post, you would have known that the littlest addition to my family was born on Boxing Day 2008.

This is Xander when he first arrived at my house for his cousin's party:

This one was taken just before he went home, after being badly bitten by mosquitoes.

Not surprisingly, his parents have decided that my home is not suitable for infants. No more birthday parties here, especially for the littlest one as you can see from the invites his dad had designed:

Oops, guess I have blanked out the venue for obvious reasons. Trust me, the venue's not here.
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