Thursday, 30 June 2011

Storytelling Sunday - A traveller's tale

Many years ago, I used to travel for business. I worked for a software house that provided computer programs used by commodity traders. Whilst most of these traders choose to carry out their businesses in Europe, one intrepid coffee trader did it right where the action is, in Costa Rica. I was asked to come out to install the program and run through some training.

A colleague who was in-between trips, M, kindly offered to sort out my travel. "Ah, that's cheap!", he said before it transpired that the San Jose being discussed with the travel agent wasn't the same as San Jose that I want to travel to, in Costa Rica. First warning sign though I didn't see it then.

Being Malaysian and still toting a Malaysian passport, the next essential step was to check for visa requirements."Oh no, she doesn't need a visa", he was told.

So with my tickets and bag packed, off I went to Heathrow for a flight to Miami.

Nothing to report from that comfortable flight until we hit Miami. A hurricane was also hitting Miami! Oh no, my connecting flight was in a couple of hours. We were left circling in the air for what felt like a long time before finally touching down to a completely chaotic airport. Miami airport isn't the most wonderful place at the best of time. If my incoming flight is delayed, then the outgoing could still be here so I rushed to the transit desk.

Alas, the flight to San Jose has left. "Don't worry Madam, we will put you up in hotel. Wait there and a bus will pick you up. I have booked you on tomorrow's morning flight at 10.05." I was relieved to have been found a room, considering all the delays, a room can't be that easy to come by.

Nothing to report from there either. I went to sleep, got picked up in the morning, duly checked in for the American flight to San Jose and we were off. I remember vividly the blue of the sea of the Bahamas and thinking, OMG, Cuba IS that shape in real life and how sparsely populated the Carribean islands were compared to the Florida Keys.

Easy flight... till the arrival at San Jose. Naturally, I had to join the longest queue at immigration, queued for what felt like hours only to be told, "You don't have visa". "But I don't need a visa", I protested. "Come with me", he said. Ahh, at last, we were making progress. He marched me straight back to the departure lounge for the flight I came in. Just like that.

I asked the airline employee what's going to happen. I was told that they will take me back to Miami, I can get my visa there and then I can come back. Oh no, I was nearly in tears. I asked if I could phone the people I've come to see just to let them know. In the days before mobile phone, I was kindly provided with a phone. I phoned S and he said, "Don't worry, wait, I'll sort it out". The flight left without me, my passport was removed from me and when I was reunited with the said passport, there was a very nice Costa Rican stamp in it ( the postage kind ) and just like that, I had a visa and was let into the country. It turned out S had connection and contacted a minister for help. ( ps : I also get another stamp on the way out )

Now, I have fond memories of Costa Rica but I am not sure I will ever go back. Right to now, I still double and triple check my visa before I travel. We are going to New York soon. My 10 year B1/B2 visa expires next year and yet the visa is in an expired passport. Googling it, apparently I am still good to travel but until they let me through the immigration gate, I will worry. Though not enough to stop me travelling, obviously.

So that's my story. Hope you can join Sian and tell your own story.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

He loves Mandarin

H started going to Mandarin club in September 2010. This involves staying after school until 5.30pm. Initially, I encouraged H to go because this coincides with J's Thursday afternoon activity. Now, coming to end of the school year, I am pleased H's enthusiasm for the club and the language has not diminish. During the year, I always have plenty to look forward to at pickup. H being H, the quality of reporting is excellent! Added to that, a "Tiger, tiger" sang in Mandarin to the tune of Frère Jacques and H's own poem, an "Ode to Miss H" ( Miss H being the Mandarin teacher ).

The school wants to encourage the pupil to take up more languages. This years Year 7 embarked on something labelled International Studios on their time table. This involves a rotation of Arabic, Russian, Portuguese and Japanese. H has enjoyed the brief taster but out of the languages, he loves Mandarin most.

The idea for this layout started with a Chinese newspaper that I picked up in a local shopping centre. The newspaper has been sitting in my scrap room for a while. I wasn't too sure how to incorporate it into my layout until I saw Suzanne's class on ATDML cyber crop. I photo copied a section of newspaper and used it in place of the "type" patterned paper that Suzanne used. I also omitted the stitching and elected for "dots with a pen" instead.

I have used an old collection from Crate Paper called Little Sprout so that's another kit broken into. I am slowly working through my paper stash that has been sitting idle this last year. I find that Crate Papers always work for me...I love Crate Paper. What about you ? What's your fail safe paper line ?

Friday, 17 June 2011

Inspired by a colour combination

I saw this on PunkyScraps. I love the yellow against the blue and decided to use that on my layout.

The layout is about H who is undergoing orthodontics treatment. He started with removeable braces which didn't work very well because he hardly wore them. After six months, our orthodontist decided that it wasn't working so we went the fixed brace route. Much to our relief as the my nagging to H was causing a lot of family rift. The removeable brace would have corrected H's jaw without having to have any teeth out but the fixed brace route meant he had 2 out to make some space. But I guess that was a small price to pay.

I have used some pretty Webster's papers for this layout, just because I wanted to. The only justification I have is, one of the papers has clocks down one side. Do you think H would mind ?

Play along to UKS Scrap Factor Week 9

I have decided to play along with UKS Scrap Factor this week. The challenge is to create unique texture on your page.

My garden is what you would call a cottage garden. There are a lot of plants ( or there will be one day!) jostling for space, there are a lot of colours and texture too...for me, the more clashes, strike that, I should say, the more contrast the better.

So taking the cue from my garden, I have gone for a lot of contrast and haphazard arrangement.

Firstly I created 3 circular focus points (3 to echo 3 photos) that will run through my journalling. I die cut some of those white grid thingy that also masquerade as non slip matting. I added individual Maya Road roses that I cut from a length of ribbon...2 textures, 2 colours!

Next, I cut out my title from that trusty, scrapbookers' supply, the pizza box. Maybe not very unique anymore now that scrapbooking supply companies produce alphas in corrugated card! I wanted the brown to echo the earth in the garden with flowers bursting forth in the form of some jewelled wires.

Lastly I sprinkled some clear beads and added drops of diamond glaze for some haphazard jewels effect...Monty Don and his Jewel Garden, eat your heart out.

You can see it better here.

But at the end of all that, it turns out I haven't used patterned papers at all! Do I qualify for next week's challenge, I wonder ?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I love wired flowers

Can you spot it in the layout above?

How about now ?

I have combined a burgundy wired flower with a spray of diamonte. My wired flower even has a tiny diamonte in the middle but I haven't been able to find anymore of this variety. Had to resort to these from ebay. I think John Lewis also do them. The diamonte spray did come from John Lewis, from the wedding supply section.

Remember my other Versailles LO ? This also sported some wired flowers around the Thickers title.

I love these tiny gems from unconventional source! What about you ? What have you spotted on the high street and lovingly used in your layout.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Zig-zagging down the Cam

We went punting at half term, from the Mill to Granchester Meadows. Not quite all the way to Granchester but half way there, pass the nudist swimmers! Nudist swimmers ? Have you seen them before ? If you are familiar with the river, on your way to Granchester, you will see 3 piers to your right. This is where they congregate. We saw a man with a towel around his waist patrolling on land and calling the swimmers out of the water when rowers and punters approach. We saw a man got out the water, completely starkers. And behind the hedge, I sneaked plenty more naked bottoms... LOL.

Anyway, back to the punting. This was our first time punting. We've been before but we did not do the hard work. It is definitely not as easy as it looks. It must be fun to work at Scudamore, to be able to watch the tourist bang left and right against the banks{, to secretly laugh}. We had a ticket for all day punting from GroupOn but we needed an early start because there is a limit to actual availability on the day. So we were there at 9! Ok, maybe more like 9.15 but we were the first to be off. Which was lucky because we can practised our technique without worrying about bumping against another punt. On the way back, we smartly punt to the Mill, thinking,"Oh my goodness, don't these people know how to punt!"

Friday, 10 June 2011

Blog hop at Punky Scraps

Nat invited me to the blog hop at Punky Scraps. The challenge is to create a LO using the sketch above ( I am sooo rooting for those flags! ). So here it is.

The photo is H on Christmas day looking very cute in paper hat. I made some paper hats using tissue paper and added them to some letters in the title. Even the bird was crying out for a hat. I did get out some paint but wasn't brave enough to let rip LOL.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A Workshop in Cambridge

I am doing a workshop in Cambridge. It is on 9th July, 2011 between 10-4 at Trumpington Pavillion. Please email me huzaifah_zainon at for more information and to book your place. Hope to see you there.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Fall in love with Paris all over again

Remember this layout ? The photo was taken over 20 years ago, on the first trip to Paris for me and A. Over the years, we have been to Paris many times, more often than not, as a side trip or stop over or something to do when not screaming on Space Mountain at Disneyland.
Last year we went back with the boys, destination Paris. FULL STOP. We had a blast doing some very touristy things; catching Mona Lisa ( and the Louvre) for the first time, going up the Eiffel Tower as always and posing on the Champs-Élysées. We also did lunch at the rooftop restaurant at Lafayette. And discovered Pierre Herme's macaroons. And visited, absolutely heaving Chateau de Versailles. Want to see some cheesy tourist photos ?