Thursday, 27 October 2011

Project ABC: E is for Elephant

The Princess loves elephants.  It started when we went elephant riding in Thailand, and she got to hug and kiss an elephant.  It was reinforced when we went elephant riding in Nepal and she got to feed an elephant.
 For this exercise the Princess and I took all her elephants outside into the garden for a play date. 

 The red and stripey Ugandan Elephants were swinging from the tree branches 

while the Thai Silk Elephant was looking down from the bougainvillea,

and Grandma's hand knitted Mother and Baby elephants where hiding in the pot plants.

Only to come back for a hug from the Princess.

The Pink Rubber Elephant were hiding in the grasses,

only to be discovered by the Green Plastic Elephant!

The wooden Sri Lankan Elephants were hard at work in the woodpile, pushing logs as they were trained to do.

While the black Sri Lankan Elephant, was to grand to do any work and just struck a pose on the pedestal.

And best of all, the pink Princess Elephant was dancing around the garden, keeping everyone entertained.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Project ABC: D is for Dress

Although I love doing needlework, I don't really make clothes, so this "D is for Dress" challenge prompted me to make, well, a dress.  

This dress has been in my cupboard for ages.  I bought it years ago at the Owino Market in Kampala when we still lived in Uganda. It is one of those dresses where you like the dress, you just don't like yourself in the dress, so it just stayed in my cupboard without being worn.

Now, after a few hours of cutting and sewing it looks like this:

Perfect for the princess:

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Craftland's Breast Cancer Support Sewathon

 I took part in the Breast Cancer Awareness Sew-a-Thon, organized by Craft Land this weekend.

As part of Breast Cancer awareness month this October, Craft Land, the local sewing-quilting-embroidery-yarn-shop-and-community, organized a 24-hour sew-a-thon where volunteers made support cushions and bags for women undergoing mastectomies and breast cancer surgery. 

 It will form part of a care-pack, put together by Well Woman Clinic which will be handed out to the women after surgery.

Women from all different backgrounds and nationalities took part, and it was a great honor to be surrounded by these wonderful women. 

Thank you to Riana, Jennifer and the rest of the staff at Craft Land who organized this event.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Project ABC: C is for Chocolate

I was contemplating doing something non-food related, like building or painting with chocolate, but in the end food prevailed.  
Chocolate is for eating, after all!
And I had to do something within the time frame for a change...

And I had to make the family happy for a change...

So I made chocolate mousse a la Jamie Oliver

Now everybody is happy!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Project ABC: B is for Bicycle

When I first wrote my list of words, the image which came to mind when I decided on Bicycle as my B-word, was something completely different from what I have now done.  I was thinking along the lines of using actual bicycle parts like a wheel rim or a gear sprocket to make something.  But seeing that I didn't have any bicycle parts lying around, and to go out looking for it would just take too much time, I changed my mind, as we women tend to do.

My brand new bicycle arrived this week, so I decided to personalize it a bit.  At first I planned something much more colourful, but when the bike arrived it was so beautifully white that I couldn't bring myself to detract from it's white awesomeness.

I decided on filet-crochet as a medium, firstly because I haven't tried it yet and secondly because it goes relatively fast.   

The words on the crochet piece says 'Ansie Dansie'. 
It is a nick name I acquired many years ago while on a camping holiday in Namibia with a group of friends. I don't see these friends very often as we live far apart these days, but it always bring back good memories when I talk to them and they call me that. 
 I hope this bicycle will bring back that same feeling of youthfulness and energy which I associate with the name and the memory.

Dubai in Pictures 19

How do you know the Dubai desert summer is almost over?


Yes, summer has no clouds.  Not one. Not for months.  The sky is a pale, depressing beige colour.  No blue. When the season starts to change, small single clouds appear in the morning and then disappear again in the afternoon.  Until one morning the sky looks like this.  Blue and with clouds.  Rain is still at least two months off, but we can dream...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Dubai in Pictures 18

This is a common sight in suburban Dubai.  An independent Garden Service Provider travelling from house to house (or villa as it is known here), maintaining the gardens.

They carry everything they need on their bicycles, or pull it along side them while they ride.  You can see the rake, secateurs and other tools sticking out behind him.  The smaller items and sometimes even plants are carried in a basket or a bag on the front of the bike.  The lawnmower is usually shared between a couple of gardeners. 

Dubai in Pictures 17

My children have swim squad practice twice a week, before school in the mornings.  We left the house just after 6 o' clock this morning, still half asleep and with a cup of coffee in hand.

On my way back to the house after drop-off I used my phone to take this picture of the sun rising behind the Jebel Ali Satellite Station. 
Actually seeing the sun rising in the morning changes one's day from mediocre to 'Wow, it's great to be alive!'.

When was the last time you saw the sun rising?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Project ABC: A is for Arab

The first item done!  It took more than 3 hours though...

Here are a few pics of the project in progress:

As I mentioned earlier, the geometrical patterns used in traditional Arab decorations really appeal to me.  I tried to combine these designs with the traditional Arab dress, which I also really appeal to me.

I didn't plan it that way but the process of layering the fabrics, decorating it, and then slowly peeling away the layers to reveal the traditional fabric underneath, reminded me of the Arabian way of dress.  Putting on layers to protect the culture, but at the same time using the layers to reveal the culture.

As I hoped, the process of making this has started a thought process which will lead to other interesting things... 

Girl Effect Blogging Campaign

It is like a thin thread woven into a piece of fabric – the way a certain issue keeps on reappearing in one’s life.  You never consciously look for it, but the next thing you know, there it is again...
This thing keeps on appearing in my life, always on the edge, never really intruding into my daily comings-and-goings, and oh so easy to ignore, to put it off as ‘not really my problem’ and ‘I’m too busy to get involved’.
It has crossed my path again yesterday, and all it asked from me is to write about it. Surely I can do that. It is what I do, after all.  So this is my small contribution:

Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world. Approximately one-quarter of these girls are not in school.
Adolescent girls are uniquely capable of raising the standard of living in the developing world.  It has been shown:  she will reinvest her income and knowledge back into her family and her community.  As an educated mother, an active citizen, an ambitious entrepreneur or prepared employee, a girl will break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
That is the Girl Effect.
Yet, despite her proven potential, she is more likely to be uneducated, a child bride, and exposed to HIV/AIDS.  Less than two cents of every international development dollar is directed at her.

A few years ago it came into my heart to visit Afghanistan.  I had just read the book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and I told my husband that if I ever get the chance to visit Afghanistan, I am going to grab it with both hands.  Not long afterwards a friend told me about an outreach programme inviting people to visit Afghanistan to witness their projects first hand. And off I went. I visited Kabul, travelled by road to Mazar I Sharif and further north to the border with Tajikistan. I saw schools being built, children being educated and women being trained in entrepreneurship. It was an eye opener. 

Since then everything about Central Asia caught my interest.  I read Greg Mortenson’s books Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools.  Through his organization Central Asia Institute (CAI), he has built many schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  He is passionate about providing education for all children but especially girls.  Here is an extract from his last book explaining how educating girls can transform a society:

Income growth:
Girls’ education leads to increased income for the girls themselves and for nations as a whole.  Increasing the share of women with a secondary education by 1 percent boosts annual per-capita income growth by 0.3 percent.  That’s significant, since per-capita income gains in developing countries seldom exceed 3 percent per year.  Educating girls also boosts farming productivity.  Educated farmers are more efficient and their farms are more productive, which leads to increase crop yields and declines in malnutrition.
Maternal and Children’s Health:
Educated women have smaller, healthier and better-educated families.  The better educated the women in society, the lower the fertility rate. A 2000 study in Brazil found that literate women had an average of 2.5 children while illiterate women had and average of six children.  The better educated the women, the lower the infant mortality rate.  “The mother’s education is often the single most important influence on children’s survival...Educated mothers learn how to keep their children healthy and how to use health services, improve nutrition and sanitation, and take advantage of their own increased earning capability.  Girls who stay in school also marry later, when they are better able to bear and care for children.” By increasing health-care knowledge and reducing the number of pregnancies, female education significantly reduces the risk of maternal mortality.  Educated women are more likely to insist on education for their own children, especially their daughters. Their children study as much as two hours more each day than children of illiterate mothers and stay in school longer.
Women Empowerment:
Educated girls and women are more likely to stand up for themselves and resist violence. “In poor areas where women are isolated within their communities, have little education and cannot earn much, girls are often regarded as an economic burden and women and girls sometimes suffer deliberate neglect or outright harm.”  Educated women channel more of their resources to the health and education of their children than men do.  Educated women are more likely to participate in political discussions, meetings and decision making.  Studies show that education promotes more representative, effective government.  As women are educated and approach parity with  men, research shows that “governments and other institutions function better and with less corruption.”  Girls who become literate tend to teach their mothers how to read and write, much more than do males.

Closer to home, in 2007, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched a fundraising campaign called Dubai Cares.  It is based on the belief that education is the most effective tool to break the cycle of poverty. Dubai Cares is an organization dedicated to improving children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries. Dubai Cares works in countries with chronic deficiencies in primary education where it implements development programs that target the underlying causes preventing children from accessing quality primary education.  Dubai Cares’ vision is a world in which all children can go to school.

Both these initiatives (CAI and Dubai Cares) were launched by men. Men with a vision for a better world.  A world where women count and are respected as equal members of society. It is ironic that both these initiatives were born in the part of the world where girls and women in general, are perceived as second rate citizens.  And where men are perceived as (and in many cases are) the oppressors.

I’ve known about the Girl Effect movement for a while now.  I ‘liked’ them on Facebook and get their updates on my wall every now and again.  I am inspired by these girls who fight the odds to improve their own lives and then go back to help those around them. And then I forget about it again and I carry on with my own busy life...

Yesterday I came across the blog of Tara Sophia Mohr called Wise Living. I don’t know how I got there – I’ve never read heard of her or read her blog before... She started a 2011 Girl Effect BloggingCampaign.  And there it was – an invitation to get involved.  And here I am – getting involved.  Please join me.  If you blog, join the blogging campaign.  If you have a Facebook profile, post about the Girl Effect on your wall.  Look at their website, they have great ideas for everybody to get involved, spread the word and help a girl. Or two.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Project ABC

I am starting a new project today.  It works like this:

I have chosen 26 random words, each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet and each one depicting a tangible object or idea. I will take each word and create something (anything) inspired by that word.  I can use any craft method I feel like but I am not allowed to work on it for more than 3 hours per idea/word. I will keep a notebook/sketchbook at hand to record my thought process and to brainstorm the idea.

The purpose of this exercise is to force myself to turn all these hundreds of ideas in my head into products.  I have great ideas (if I may say so myself) but they usually stay just that: ideas.  At the end of the month I hope to have objects/products instead of ideas.
If you have been reading this blog for a while you would know by now that planning and organizing is not my strong point.  Hopefully this will also help me to focus my mind and plan my days a bit better. We aim for results here :-)

The words I chose was just the first ones that came to mind which depicted something physical.  I avoided words which are not tangible like dream, hope, love, etc. The list looks like this:

Qasr (Arabic for Castle/Fort)