HOME DECOR: Long narrow living room decor ideas

I feel like I'm forever decorating and redecorating my living room.  The size and the placement of the fireplace give us very little room to work with.  I'm constantly dreaming of winning a home makeover contest.  OR wishing that Candace Olson from Divine Design would choose our home and help me redecorate this space.  It needs color, life, more stuff...I just don't know what though !  My husband play moving furniture all the time and we always ended up with something similar to what we have before.  There's very little room to switch things up in a small long space !  Until I come up with something decent, I won't be posting any picture ! 

I hope to at least semi finish this living space before I head back to work in 2014 !  Lots of time but it's not much when most of my time are spent with my 2 princesses.  I've been looking at these pictures below for inspiration.  If you have a cool or functional layout of your living room please do share.  I'm always on the look out for design ideas and suggestions.

The last 2 pictures are of the same room.  I really like how it look.  Very well lay out and thing just come together but also stand out on their own.  So pleasant to look at don't you think ?

facebook, brag book, misunderstandings, overreactions, no one is safe !

An excerp from Ms. Daum, LA Times:
'Empowerboasting,' 'humblebragging' — the near-constant boasting in Facebook posts isn't really about putting out good vibes to our friends; it's advertising our insecurity.

The most common and insidious form of social-network bragging is the "humblebrag." These are boasts that are loosely disguised as self-deprecation — "Spilled coffee inside my Maserati. What a dope!"

There are many more genres. For instance, the chest thumping-masquerading-as-self-esteem I call the "empowerboast." "Feeling so good about myself today. Realizing that I am beautiful and wise and deserved to be loved."

Some are so common, they're trite: the mom brag, the meal preparation brag, the posting-of-hot-photos-of-yourself brag.

Maybe, but here's what I think is really going on. We're a culture that can't distinguish positive thinking from hubris. We tell ourselves we're not bragging, just putting out good vibes. We're not putting the spotlight on ourselves, but rather spreading the light around so that others, too, will flourish in the glow.

Except that's crap. These aren't good vibes. They are advertisements for our insecurity. Posting a brag, humble or otherwise, and then waiting for people to respond is the equivalent of having a conversation in which all you do is wait for your turn to speak. That is to say, there's nothing to learn from it but we all do it at least occasionally.

This article was written for me.  I laugh out loud because it's so true.  Hey, don't judge, we've all been there and done it on FB !  Would it be harsh to say we're a bit delusional if we think we didn't  ? :-P

While we can't help ourselves from humble bragging (because sometime we're happy/proud and have to share ! & I do found pleasure in reading about others accomplishments & others traveling pic), we can, however, help minimize misunderstandings and overreactions when we update our status or when we read the newsfeed or snoop on other's timeline.  

It happened to the best of us.  When that one status update, that one simple line of text get so twisted, it has taken on a life of it's own.  What the kale happened ?  

We all been there !  where we were misunderstood, or we overreacted & misunderstood someone.  Where we annoyed someone or someone annoyed us.  It's too easy to jump into conclusion, to take it personal, when all we got is text to work with.  Plain, emotionless, tasteless, and impersonal text, that we can bend it any way we want.  We seasoned it with our own tone, emotion, expression, and unintentionally, we impose our feeling upon it.

I can type an average of 80+ words per minute !!!  Impressive right ?  I am one of those who are quick to share but never review what I just typed.  I don't dwell too deep on what I wrote.  And there lies my problem.  I am misunderstood all the time :-/ Oh FB ! your "What's on your mind" line, like a friend's caring words, cause me to overly excited to share my thoughts, only to discover upon reading again, that my good intention didn't come through.  Why did you fail to express my sarcastic tone and witty harmless personality ?  why oh why !

Facebook is what you make it !  Try not to take it personal because many of times, it's never about you.  Don't trust all you see and read :-)  Not everyone is perfect or lead perfect lives (although we all try to make it look like that on FB).  If you are hurt, call them up in person.  Don't have their #, you're not real friends, then in that case, get over it.  Try to play nice ! Don't judge ! because many of us don't know each other's history, background, obstacles, difficulties, and insecurities.  Come on, let's be real :-)  if we're lucky, 1% of our fb "friends" actually know us personally !  so let's think over before we type, think twice three times before we make a comment, and filter out what's good and what's trash.

When I update my status, they are simply what they are, no hidden agenda, not disguising as anything, not trying to imply anything.  I am not skilled in the art of secretly attacking anyone.  If you know me, you know me as a person who doesn't like to cause harm to anyone, or make mockery of anyone, or make anyone feel crappy.  And I'm sorry if I've made you feel less than the great person you are, whoever you may be.   If what I rant hit close to home, be assure that it's just pure coincidence.  It's not about you.  Don't make it about you.  Please and thank you. 

If you're on FB, you have to accept the fact that well, anything can be taken as anything.  Everyone gets mislabelled sometime.  Everyone gets perceived as something they're not in one way or another.  FBers will never fully get you !  You will brag !  You will be misunderstood !  That's just the way of online social media !!!  You either sign up for all of it or opt out :)

Old dresser makeover with wallpaper

I was quite excited to commence on this long overdue project.  However it started to rain this morning.  Totally bummed out but by noon Mr. Sun came for a visit so I quickly gather up my stuff and start working on it.

We went to HomeDepot yesterday to pick up the wallpaper since we were close by.  There aren't a lot of options available so I opt for a black and white (either that or brick or rock prints :-(

I was really hoping the wallpaper would be something like wall decal, peel and paste but uh, there's no such thing there.  I looked and looked and all they have is 2 types of wallpaper.  The pre-pasted wallpaper are the one you have to submerge the whole strip in water, soak it then paste it up on the surface you're covering.  If you leave to short or too long in the water, it will affect how the glue stick to the wall.  Since it's my first time doing this, I wanted to go for a sure thing so I went for paste-the-wall wallpaper (meaning, you paste the wall with glue then paste the wallpaper on it).  Sound easy enough right ? 

Now come the part of preparing the dresser for pasting.  My old Ikea dresser is laminated with melamine so I can't paste the wall paper directly on it.  The glue needs something to grip on.  I needed something like primer but I went for wall sizing instead (my reason for it is that I feel it might be less fume, less toxic). 

*if you're planning to just temporary cover your dresser or wall, it's best to wall size it first so when you decide the remove the wall paper, it doesn't damage the paint or wood underneath. 

I brought the Dynamic Wall Size and Pro Clear Adhesive and the brand of the wallpaper is Superfresco EASY, Vogue, Black and White.


Here are the before and after photos.  The whole project takes less than 1 hour to do, prep and paste.  I think I might can even finish it faster if my little daughter didn't offer to help :-)   In between the prep and glue, there's about 6 hours of wait time for the wall size to dry before I can paste.  I'm quite happy with the result.  Just wish HomeDepot has better wall paper print options that's all.  I was hoping for some cool sunny yellow print or an aqua/teal damask but none were found.  For now, this dresser will suffice to store Lovebug's diapers and onesies :-)



FURNITURE REFINISH IDEA: Dressing up dresser with wallpaper

I have some old Ikea dressers that are in great condition minus some scratches and sticker residues that were bestowed upon them by my lovely daughter Bee. Buying new dressers are not feasible at the present moment as my toddler and baby surely will destroy them before they get to see the light of day. So how to make something old new again ? how to make something unbearable to lovely again ? I thought hard and came up with "wall decal", but I much prefer having some patterns so a light bulb came on, I thought "why not wallpaper?". Unlike the golden era, nowaday wallpaper come pre pasted, or peel & paste, and all can easily be removed if you changed your mind. Though I came up with the idea on my own, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one honored with such epiphany, I'm sure a host of others out there are already doing it. I googled wallpaper dressers and like I predicted, it's been done and quite popular in fact. 

Here are some beautiful pieces I found. I shall mull over floral or shapes over the next 24 hours and will commence with project "dresser makeover" this weekend !!!  Wish me good luck !

this cute blue piece is great for dresser with handles

I wanted to get this color print for my ikea dressers but not sure how it will look without handle...

love the solid and print swap

this one is beautiful !  love the detailing on it and the color

over-the-top bright and happy !  so fun to look at.  It's a conversation piece for sure.

something about this piece is so serene.  Note the little handle details.

too cute !  Can't find similar wallpaper design anywhere.

this one is painted on with a stencil.  I really like the look of this one.  Imagine a gray color damask print....


My little Lovebug is growing so fast.  She's already outgrown most of her 3 month clothes (she just turned 3 month) and can fit into some of the 6-9 month clothes that Bee passed down to her.  She hates laying down so we have to props her up on pillows, into a sitting position, so she can look around, exploring the room.  It's fun watching her trying to focus and seeing things.  She loves to smile and it simply lights up the room.   The thought of her and Bee put a smile on my face.  Gosh, I love my kids so much ! 

highlight of the day:  Bee's Strong Start class releases some of the butterflies that just recently hatched.  I was reminded of how beautiful God dressed these butterflies.


easy peasy whole wheat waffle recipe

Bee and I make waffle or pancake every Saturday.  It's our mommy and daughter tradition.  However, with me staying at home now, we not only make it on Saturday, but we also make waffle every other day !  I love the smell of fresh baked flour in the morning.  It's comforting for some reason.  And the waffle, it's so yummy !  Crispy on the outside, airy, soft and a bit chewy on the inside.  Perfect.

Here's the recipe I got from a mommy friend Dee. (I tried many waffle recipes before and hers is the best, imo):


1 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder (this is different from baking soda :-)
2 tablespoon of sugar (less or more depending on your sweet tooth)

1 3/4 cup of milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup of cooking oil or butter (I use coconut oil)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

*If you like light and airy waffle, first separate the egg white from the yolk.  Blend the egg whites with a hand blender until stiff peaks formed (about 3-4 min).

Mix all dry ingredients together, then mix in the oil, eggs (egg yolks if separated), then the pour in the milk & vanilla extract.  (If you beat the egg whites separately, fold it in at the end and whisk until blended)

Heat your waffle maker as per instructions.  Pour in 2 spoons of batter and cook until golden.  Serve hot.

This recipe yields about 8 waffles for us.  You might get more or less depending on your waffle machine's depth and dimension.

**You can double the recipe and freeze the extras.

highlight of the day:  Bee and I went out to check on our little garden.  The peas spouted and they are growing !!!  We can't wait to eat them.  We also counted the figs on our fig tree :)

small fig tree

Planted the peas under our clematis plant > not a good idea because the clematis dropped so many petals down on them each day !  Our clematis produced over abundant of soft pink flowers this year.

pink clematis

West Elm Crush

In between diaper changing, feeding and burping a baby; and in between playing, entertaining, chasing, cooking and threatening a toddler to eat; I managed to fit in few minutes to shop!!!  I love online shopping !  I shop online for everything from baby clothes to organic nut butter spread to quinoa to cosmetics to fabric...Only after when a day or two go by that I remembered the thing about online shopping that I detest >>>  processing and shipping time !  Aigooo (like the woman in the Korean drama often says), why does it have to take so long.  But yet, it doesn't discourage me to stop.  I feel it helps keep me connected to the outside world (because I'm home most days) :-)  I think :-D

I have my phases.  Some week I spent those snippets of time buying kids stuff,  then next week it'll be on hubby's clothes, then the next, health food, and recently, on home décor.  West Elm is my current crush.  I haven't been to the actual brick and mortar store yet, since it's debut in Vancouver in 2012.  I have just been admiring their stuff online.  Their prices are good, not expensive like it's mother ship, Pottery Barn.  Now that Lovebug is a bit bigger, I'm hoping to make a visit there soon.  If I could, I would craigslisted (I believe I just made up that word) most of my furniture and pick up new pieces from there.  My husband, always the voice of reason, reminded me that anything nice we buy now will be destroyed by our little kids !!!  *sigh*...Maybe I'll just work on "renovating" our walls, AFTER I buy a new dining table and a new console table :-)

Hubby and I have different décor taste.  He's into minimalist, clean line, classic color.  I found them boring with a capital B !  I'm the colorful one in our relationship.  My only problem is that I like too many things :-P  I like country style with a modern twist, mid-century, industrial chic, retro, eclectic...because I can't settle on one, our house is currently being styled by my Mister.  Although we've got many compliments on our home, I still think it needs a new make over.  I must say, my staying at home days in and out has a bit to do with me wanting change.  One can get bored with seeing the same things, same layout everyday.  An affordable way to switch things up is to re-arranging the furniture, which we just did the other day.  I like it but I'm aiming to get a few new things.  I know, I'm not making money staying at home and yet am spending more.  But we've been doing well at saving, we should spend just a bit right ?  Right.

Some fabulous items I'm eyeing:


Thought of the day:  I enjoyed my Our Daily Bread today.  Here's an excerpt from it:

"As we go through life striving to find our way, situations may frustrate us and cause us to respond to others in an un-Christlike way. If so, we must ask God to give us the courage to apologize to those we have offended. Our worship, according to Jesus, depends on it (Matt. 5:23-24).

We honor God when we make reconciliation with others a priority. After we have been reconciled, we can then fully enjoy communion with our heavenly Father."

In the heat of the matter, I sometime let my pride take over and refuse to see my wrong.  Only when I'm calm and collected that I realized how thoughtless I've been.  The Lord put it in my heart that, no matter how much time passed, even if it looks & feels as though they're over it, I still need to apologize for the words I said.  I think when we do that, it's not only for the good of others, but also good for us.  To forgive ourselves so we too can move on. 

how to load instagram filters photoshop actions cs4

I like instagram filters but since I don't have an iphone (omg I know !) I decided to google for photoshop how tos !  Upon my search, I found that there are many people already did the leg work for this :-)  Some are better than others.  I like the one created by Daniel Box most as the photoshop filters are comparable to the instagram filters.

Go here to download the action file:  http://dbox.tumblr.com/post/5426249009/instagram-filters-as-photoshop-actions

Here're the steps to load the action file:

1.  Open and extract the action file you just downloaded
2.  Open Photoshop (I use Adobe Design Premium CS4)
3.  In Photoshop, press Alt+f9 OR locate Window on the top menu bar, click to open up a menu; then locate Actions and click to open it
4.  On the ACTIONS window, at the top right corner click on the little arrow pointing down

5.  In this drop down menu, locate Load Actions... and click to open

6.  Browse to the extracted folder of the photoshop action file that you downloaded, and click on the ATN file to load the actions.

7.  Once the actions are loaded, click on the little arrow on the left of the action file (#1) to expand the file. 

8.  Select the filter you want to use (#2) by single click on the filter name.

9.  Click on the play arrow at the bottom of the ACTIONS window (#3)

10.  Let the action run its course and your picture will be altered according to the filter you picked.

*** there's also border that you can play with.  Always remember to press play to see the final result.

Highlight of today:  Honeybee and I went to check on our little garden and it's doing very well !  all the seeds have spouted and we can see beautiful green leaves lined up in crooked rows (it's hard to plant them in straight lines :-)  Thank you Lord for the warm sun and rain to help these plants grow !!!

toddler doesn't like to eat !!!

I fed my daughter her lunch in the bathtub today.  Yup, right in the tub, while she's bathing.  I don't know what it is or where we went wrong, but for a few weeks now, Bee doesn't like to eat !  She would rather play than eat.  And if she's really hungry at dinner (seldom), she'll have a bowl of plain white/brown rice !  I was told it's just a phase and it will pass, but I'm exhausted, too impatience to wait for it to pass :-(  (you'll know why I'm so tired in the 3rd paragraph).

I've tried everything I know of, to encourage her to eat, and none worked successfully.  She'll have a bite or two then refuses to take another.  She'll sit at the table with us though, and watches us eat, asks about our food or just sings.  I've tried making all types of food, tried cutting food into various interesting shapes, ordered take outs, let her pick out what she wants to eat > and nothing worked !  there's no sign of interest from this girl :-(  she used to love to eat !!!  what happened ???

I'm all for the "they will eat when they're hungry.  They won't starve themselves".  But that doesn't work for my dear sweet Bee.  We would run around the house (I'm hoping by burning her energy she would get hungry and eat), and still she doesn't get hungry.  However, come night time, when we're all in bed snoozing away, I would feel a tiny hand touching my face, "mommy, hungry, milk?" is what she would say to me.  ARRRRrrrrgggghhhh, really baby ?  why now ?  mommy just got baby sister to sleep !  mommy just fall asleep !  oh man oh man oh man !!!  And since I can't just leave her in that state of hunger, I force myself up to get her milk and some crackers or make her an egg (because I know milk will only temporary hunker down her hunger for a short time, and soon she will be hungry again IF I don't give her something else to eat with the milk).  I would wait for her to finish then we go and brush her teeth again, before we both hit the hay.

Don't know about you but I love my sleep.  Now with 2 kids, sleep is evermore so precious to me.  I need it to recharge myself, so that I can function and keep up with my 2 princesses.  So after a few nights of her waking me up (me = zombie the next day), I decided I have to take the "meany" route !  I can't think of a better & faster way to deal with this OTHER than, I have to force her to eat.  I have to do whatever it takes to get her to eat !  her belly needs to be filled in order sleep through the night.

I don't know what the long term effect is on kids with parents forcing them to eat (they might hate eating time even more ?) so I am trying my hardest not to force her, or try to make it bearable :-S  key word here is "trying" because, well, some day I loose my cool !  my patience wears thin !  It's frustrating sometime watching her lick the food then saunters away.  What's wrong with the food ?  It's not so bad !  It's not poison !  I want to pull my hair out when she's like that.  Aaarrrrggghhhh!

So far "distraction" kind of worked !  She usually finished about 75% of her food.  And if I know she didn't consume much food throughout the day, I then will have to do the unthinkable >>> I would threaten her !  yup !  I thought long and hard on what she likes most and go from there.  I really don't want to scare her, but more like I just want to coercion her into it !!!  I would tell her if she doesn't eat, she won't be strong, and if she's not strong we can't play game today.  If we're at a friend's house or out in public, and she rather play than eat, I would simply say "if you don't eat then we will have to go home, you need to be strong to play".  Bee pride herself on being strong and loves to play so this tactic works well.  However I try not to use it all the time.  I remember some "experts" said it's not good for them, long term effect on something - they didn't say !!!  and have no data to back up their opinion.  But really, I wonder how much harm can it do ?  My mom told me she threatened me all the time when I was a kid.  I don't remember any them.  I don't remember ever disliking food so I really don't think they impacted me.  But I'm no expert, maybe they have some other effect on me that I'm not aware of :-S  eekkk !

Right now, most days, meal time is a battlefield !  I dread going into it but glad I came out on the winning side most of the time.  Yay me !  and she's been sleeping through the night, most nights.  I think I'm getting better at coming up with different "distraction" strategy to get her to eat, to remove her attention on eating elsewhere > like watching cars, spying on our neighbour's cat, follow the ants, etc !!!  When I noticed that she's noticing the food in her mouth and starting to make faces (ready to spit out the food), I would quickly yell "Hey, oh my, look at that !!!" and point frantically at something, anything to distract her.  I look like a crazy woman O_O  I pray and hope this phase shall pass.  I know it will !  Just don't know when.  Every wild ride will come to an end.  Right ?

If you got a tactic to get your kid to eat, please do share.  Being a parent is all about trials and errors, sharing them, laughing at them and learning from other moms !

how to file, organize your emails using gmail label

If you're not using Gmail's Label, you're missing out !!!  With gmail, though it doesn't have a folder creation, you can use LABEL to act like a folder to file all your emails.   File/folder is the easiest way to sort and organize your emails, so that important ones doesn't get overlooked !  Once you created a label, you can then use filter to automatically send email containing certain key word(s) or from a specific email to their designated folder.  Here's how to do it.

1.  Log into your gmail account
2.  Locate the wheel-like looking icon, click to open up a drop down menu
3.  Select and click 'Settings'

4.  A new screen will open, locate the Labels tab and click on it
5.  Under the label tab menu, near the bottom left, click on 'Create new label'

6.  A pop up form will show up, give your label a name (think of label as your folder's name). 
* You can even nest a label under a label (like a folder inside another folder).  If you want to nest it, first you have to create the main label, when that's done, then create the label you want to nest under that main label.
7.  Now that you created the label, you need to create filter to tell the system to automatically file emails for you.  Click on the Filters tab at the very top.
8.  At the bottom right of the screen, locate and click on 'Create a new filter'

9.  A pop up window will come up.  Here you will fill in all the info. you want the system to check when an email arrived at your inbox.

>From:  put in any email that you want the system to group together in a folder.
>To:  fill this section if you have a specific email address that you want the system to look for.
>Subject:  certain word in the subject line
>Has the words:  here you can put in any word you want to check for (ie. invoice, payment, mom, etc)
>Doesn't have:  words the email doesn't contain
>Has attachment:  email containing a file or not

***You don't have to fill it all out.  Like the pic. I posted, I only fill out the From textbox. 

10.  Once you're done with this form, click on 'Create filter with this search >>'

11.  Ignore any pop up message that said something about changes has not been saved.  Click OK to discard the changes.

12.  Another pop up window will open up, this is where you tell the system what to do with the emails when they matched your filter criteria.

Choose Skip the Inbox if you want the email to go directly to the folder.  If you want to manually file it then don't check this box.

Mart as read & Star it (a yellow star picture next to the email) is pretty self explanatory !

You should check the Apply the label: box, then click on Choose label... to select the label you just created.  This will make the system add the label name to all your incoming emails that matched the filter criteria you set up. 

Then you can Forward the email, Delete or Never send it Spam

While you're filling this out , the system is doing a scan in the background to see if any OLD emails in your inbox matches the filter you created.  If any email (conversations) matched, it will display the # of matching conversation (mine has 0 matching conversations).  If you want to apply the label to old email, then remember to check the Also apply filter to # matching conversations.

13.  Click on Create filter to complete it.

As you can see on the picture below, your "label" will show up under your Inbox.  I opened all my new email so I can't screen capture one to show you.  But say, if there's any new email, the label name will appear bold with the total # of new email it contained.  For example: hosting (3) < means there're 3 new emails in the hosting folder.

Hope this is easy to follow !  Once you created one you'll get the hang of it and will see how easy it is.  I shortened my list in the image above, but in reality, I have over 20 labels (folders ;-)   These helped me greatly in organizing important emails that I need to check right away over ones that can wait.  If you have any question shoot me an email or leave me a comment !  Happy labelling !

fun with kids : it's fun to role play !

Imaginary games are fun for both Honeybee and I !  It helps us break up the humdrums, routines of the day.  Bee is not too crazy about cartoons.  If we were to turn on the TV, she'ld plug in for maybe 1/2 of an hour and then would scream "play mommy ! go make tea !".  Playing pretend games get our brain cells going !  It challenges both Bee and I to be creative, to come up with new ideas.  I must say, as an adult, I found my imagination wheel a bit "rusty"!  But the more we role play, the more I tap into my creative side.  So if you find yourself like me, feel like your imagination well is almost dried out, the only way to tackle it is To Do It !  Play !  Practice role playing with you kids.  Listen to them, take their cues and go on from there.

By observation, I noticed kids loves to play house !!!  The kitchen is the most popular station at Bee's Strong Start (a school run program for kids under 5).   Every kids wants to be the chef or the cook, or the one who serves tea.  No one wants to take order or wait on table !!!  They sometime would argue over who does what, for what feels like eternity, and then play time is over !  Nothing was solved and it's time to clean up.  Funny bunch they are ! 

Bee loves her wooden play kitchen.  Needless to say, she too likes to be the chef.  It's one of our favorite pretend games.  She cooks up all types of food and most always serve tea with her meal.  Bee recently has expanded her kitchen into a restaurant and added a cash register.  Now the play room is a restaurant with a supermarket, where the food I bought will be cooked by the amazing chef Bee.  Lovebug and I are her faithful patrons.  There's rarely an ordinary dish ever leaves this kitchen.  Every dish is a surprise.  Ever had puppy milk tea ?  or waffle bell chime soup ?  my point exact !

The wood kitchen we bought for Bee is made by Little Tikes.  There's no battery generated sound, so Bee has to make up her own "beep beep" when pressing on the microwave.  Which is fine because it's all about pretend play right ?  She's quite attach to her cash register machine at the moment.  It is made by Just Like Home.  Bee loves the "ding" sound the cash till drawer produced !  I like that the screen on the register is solar powered (like a calculator).  It's great for learning number. 

Today we didn't play kitchen.  Honeybee wanted to be a doctor (another one of her favorite game).  I thought Lovebug neck is quite sturdy and strong enough for Bee to play check up with her.  After listening to Lovebug's head, giving her a shot and vitamin, Bee gave her a thumbs up for excellent health.  I'm glad to hear that report.  After playing doctor, we went and watch the ants in the yard, making up stories on where they're coming from and where they're heading !  It was a productive day completed with a 3 hour nap in between play.