Saturday, June 11, 2016

Up in the clouds... My Sparkly Pink Pair of Kasut Manek

I took a trip down to Malacca last weekend. Having finished off my beading work, it was time to transform it into a pair of shoes.

My friend told me about a Singapore shoemaker. But said also that he was very busy, and as such could take some time to finish the shoes.  Impatient me, I could not wait.  And since we had this trip to Malacca lined up, I decided that I'd see if there was a shoemaker who could rush my order.  

Truth be told, I actually arranged my trip to Malacca partly also because I needed some push to finish off my shoes.  Well, it worked, didn't it?

The first shop we went to, sadly could not do it in time.  This meant that they would have to post it back to Singapore.  Not an option for someone who has spent six years beading her precious shoes and doesn't want to risk the shoes going astray.

Fortunately the next shop we found could do it in 48 hours, albeit at an express rate.  And the best part - it was in front of our hotel!  And they had this vibrant pink leather to pull the shoe together.   And the next day when we walked past the shop we saw the shoes in the process of being made.  It was an exciting moment!  

I was so pleased to pick them up the next day.  Don't they look absolutely gorgeous!

For reference, the shop is Wah Aik and it is along Heeren Street, aka Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Done at last! My 6-year beading odyssey

It is with great pride and happiness that I announce the completion of my kasut manek, or Nonya beaded shoes.  I started these off originally in early 2010, thinking that it would take me maybe a year to complete.  Little did I realise ...  ... I overestimated the amount of work available and the time I had to spend on this project.

Be it as it may, let me share the last sequence of photos recording the completion of this massive task.

The pattern I used was the "cloud forest" pattern.  The clouds are supposed to be in different colours but I decided to keep them all in pink, to go with my clothes (and one of my kebayas.

The full sequence of photos documenting my progress on the shoes can be found in this Flickr album.

The next step, of course, is to actually find a shoemaker to transform this into a pair of sparkly shoes!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Celebrating Easter

Whilst everyone in Singapore is enjoying a lazy long weekend, observant Catholics, on the other hand, spend a lot of it in church. Starting with Maundy Thursday, what with the washing of the feet and the holy hour (I skipped it this year), then the Good Friday service (2 hours long) and Easter Vigil (3.5 hours) on Saturday night.  Then we have a big Easter lunch on Easter Sunday to celebrate.  What with cooking and eating (and sleeping off the lunch), that's the whole weekend gone.  And this year, I decided to further eat into my weekend by making Hot Cross Buns on Saturday afternoon (they took me 4.5 hours, including the time for proving and baking, and tidying up).

Hot Cross Buns have always been associated with Easter, what with the symbolism of the cross, the spices in the bun and the bread, to be broken and shared.  But its first mention, according to the BBC no less, was in 1733 in that famous old ditty, "One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns". Clearly the buns had staying power as they are still around today.

I made my buns from a Paul Hollywood recipe, from his book "How to Bake".  You can however find a similar recipe hereTo be honest, I had tried making them last year but they were not very pretty and looked more like rock buns.  Fortunately, appearances were deceptive as certainly the buns were fluffy and soft on the inside.  My buns still weren't that pretty this year (I decided against the apricot jam glaze) but the cross is nice and clear.  What I like about it - the inclusion of the apple - its tart flavour contrasts with the sweetness of the bun and the dried fruit peel and sultanas.  

I managed to finish the buns just in time for a quick shower and a hurried dinner before rushing to Easter Vigil.  Need to go early, to get a good seat and before the church is plunged into darkness.  

Indeed, it is a special moment, the hush (at least it would be a hush if people weren't still coming into the darkened church and others weren't talking) in the church, just before the start of the Vigil.  Outside, the great fire is being lit, and from the fire, the Pascal candle is lit before being brought into the church.  And from this one candle, all our little candles are lit.  It's really such a beautiful moment, when all the church is slowly coming alight, and each of us contributes to it.  Then, we have the glory of the Exultet (beautifully sung by our MEP priest).

Here at Holy Family, also celebrate the baptism of adults entering the church.  And we get another round of candle lighting as the newly baptised too get their own candles.  It's a joyous moment, alleluia.

P.S.  Yes, I'm late with this post.  Easter Sunday was on 27th March 2016, some two weeks ago.  I've been busy!  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

St Joseph's Church - the Portuguese Mission at Victoria Street

St Joseph's Church
St Joseph's Church at Victoria Street has played a rather unique role in the history of the Catholic Church in Singapore.  For many years, it was known as the "Portuguese Mission", where the Portuguese missionaries (headquartered then in Macau) had their base.  It served the "Portuguese" community - or the Eurasians of Portuguese origin in Singapore.  My friend and her family, for example, used to go there every Sunday for mass.  Not me and mine, though.  Being more of Scots origin, we did not have this tradition and so, as good Katong-ites, we went to Holy Family.

This being the season of Lent, Catholics normally go for Confession and the various parishes in Singapore will hold Penitential services to facilitate individual confessions for those who seek it.  I managed to miss the two sessions in the two churches nearest my home.  So I checked up the dates for the other sessions and noticed that the St Joseph's session was rather conveniently timed.  So, I decided that it was about time I stopped being so parochial about going to my home parish and instead take a trip to Waterloo Street and go to one of Singapore's historical churches for a change.
The Roll of Missionaries

I'd been to the church most recently about a year previously, soon after the famed stained glass windows were restored, and spent a quiet hour there, praying and (ahem) taking photos.  The old high alter, the ornate carved lectern, the statues of the saints around the church, old wooden pews, the tiled floor, the high vaulted ceiling - it is truly a beautiful, historical church reminiscent of European Churches.  A plaque near the entrance lists all the priests who have served in this community church, starting from Fr Francisco Maia in 1825, just 6 years after Sir Stamford Raffles founded modern Singapore.

But the windows were truly breath-taking, with their beautiful jewel colours, the workmanship and artistry which just shone through, inspired a feeling of awe within me.  

But when I went there for the Penitential service, it was night and so there was no light streaming through the stained glass, the statues of the saints were all shrouded in purple cloth.  I had therefore no distractions as I examined my conscience and prepared for Confession.

St Joseph's Church was completed in 1912, replacing an older building on the site.  It has been gazetted as a National Monument and as such, the National Library website has a most informative page  on it.  But to really experience the beauty, and rich history of this church, only a visit will serve.  

Baptism of Jesus

Stained Glass Window above the Altar

It's almost Easter!  So to all Catholics, may you have a holy Holy Week ahead!  Happy Easter!

(Note: St Joseph's church is the only one in Singapore which has a Latin Mass, every Sunday at 3pm. It's on my to-do list, so maybe another post is in the wings. :-) )

Monday, March 07, 2016

Almost there, after six years

I have been deliberately holding back this post, so that I could unveil in its full glory the one shoe I have finally completed!  After all, this is the sixth year I have been working on this one project.... .... If anything, I should get an award for perseverance ....

Of course it would have been wonderful if I could have unveiled two completed shoes, but unfortunately didn't quite make the time to finish it over the usually quite productive December period.  

Anyway, here are a few shots of the critical last stages of the left shoe:

One corner done

Sewing the last few beads on the other corner

And that's the whole shoe finished!

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