Saturday, February 28, 2015

Who am I?

Apologies for the blog absence.  Life lately has taken a front seat over the blog these last couple of weeks (not that I put my life on the back burner normally, I'm just usually better able to balance).

We had one week off from school for Chinese New Year, which was a welcome break.  I needed to be home, to get to jobs that I never seem to have time for, to be a totally hands on mum and maybe take the kiddos out of their usual routine. It's been a mad rush these last three months to organize kiddo birthdays and I haven't had time for much else. Well...the kids got sick (me too, but not sick enough to stay home, just sick enough to be tired) so my idea of getting out of our routine went down the tubes. Part of the week off included the hubby being gone from 10am to 6pm each day for a PD workshop. They were also three of the four public holidays that Eva and Jojo were off. And, we were dogsitting.  So again, things were busy.

The last part of what's made life challenging lately is a horrible tragedy that has impacted our school community, predominately the high school.  Last week, a family of four (two had been students at our school) lost their lives in a horrific car accident.  The result of this tragedy left our kids, their parents and our teachers lost in grief.  Even as a teacher who never interacted with these kids in a classroom, I feel deeply sad about these circumstances and watching as those who did have the privilege of knowing them struggle to come to grips with this while trying to comfort them.  It's been an emotional week, to say the least.  I gave a lot of hugs and walked around on the verge of tears.

In any case, this accidental two week hiatus from my blog has left me feeling reflective.  Often these days when I meet people, I'm asked things like: how do you manage it all?  You work, have three kids, attend events, keep up with two blogs and do you do it? You're amazing! I'm hyper aware of the image I portray to my blog readers, on Facebook, and on my Instagram feed. I always want to make sure I'm relatable and genuine to those around me. To use my blog to support things I believe in like sustainable fashion or wear the things I've been gifted after collaborations because I really like them, etc.

I used to blog a lot more about parenting and life, but haven't done that much lately.  I used to have a rant here and there.  Not so much now.  Life hasn't changed, but I realize that my blog is much more public now than it used to be. Perhaps I'm just guarding these things because they're more personal, but that gives me pause to think. When did I start to feel like my personal life needed to be hidden?  I'm pretty open about things I think others can handle.  Heck, I remember a post in which I exposed the hilarities of breastfeeding my youngest which included a now-off limits photograph of my boob.

So, who am I now?  Have things really changed? I can only answer that simply; I'm still a Norbyah.

The truth is, I don't know how I manage. I actually don't think I do it all that well (no, I'm not fishing for compliments here, I'm being honest).  I'm flattered by the compliments I receive, but embarrassed that I've received them. Here's why; I think I could be better. I think I do too much. I think I let people down. I think I could be more patient with my children. I think I could be a better friend, sister, wife, mother, teacher, blogger, etc.

Deep down I think of all these things, but I don't necessarily let them eat away at me.  And here's why; I'm doing the best I can. I make mistakes. I lose my cool. I just don't share these things as often anymore, but maybe I should. I am human, after all. And, I have an incredible support network around me.  They're who make things possible.  They have an invisible, but integral role in helping me and this blog be the success that it is.

Okay, reflective thoughts finished.  Back to regular blogging...and life, soon.

**I've included images that show a few behind the scenes views of the real life of I'm a Norbyah, with just a few of the people I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

A shock of red

My original plan for this outfit was to wear my hot pink beanie to off set the neutrals of this look.  When the morning came, I couldn't find it.  It turns out I did a boy look and it was right on the top of my stool next to the vanity in my bedroom, but I didn't realize this until I got home later.

So, the hubby suggested I borrow his red beanie instead.  As it turns out, I like the red with this outfit better anyhow.  Funny how his suggestions make things better; he's got a keen eye, that one.

The rest of the outfit was totally inspired by the woman who I bought the blazer from on Etsy.  Her shop is called Noir Ohio Vintage.  I've mentioned her shop before in a few places, both on this blog in my post about Stevie Nicks and on my other blog on Style by Asia, Sisters in Vintage HK.  

The Etsy seller Maggie had styled this blazer with a striped top and high waisted black skinny jeans, and the look was perfection.  

I like color, though, so I made this look my own by adding the beanie.  In these winter months, I'm such a fan of beanies and all kinds of hats.  I think I've had my head covered with one or the other four out of five days this school week. You can check my Instagram feed for proof @imanorbyah.

 The red is kind of an auspicious color for next week, too.  We're mere minutes away from the start of our Chinese New Year week off.  I'll be pulling out a lot of red for next week.

Oh, and Valentine's Day, too.  But I'm not so much into that.  We'll celebrate it in our typical family Valentine's Day way (see here).

Have a look at @noirohio for more style inspiration, too.

Outfit deets: Vintage blazer - Noir Ohio on Etsy, Black skinny jeans with DIY distressed knees - Urban Outfitters, Cropped striped t-shirt (cropped shorter by me) - Cotton On, Skyline handbag - Louella Odie, Shoemint booties and the hubby's beanie.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Behind the Scenes: Louella Odie x WTF x The Duality

Sorry peeps, I got lost in the busyness of this weekend (a big school event and a little girl's birthday party) and didn't finish this post. 

Just before the Christmas break, I had the pleasure of working with a wonderful team of women to style some looks for a collaboration between Louella Odie and What the Frock.  Gorgeous bloggers, Natalie Dupe and Gabriella Zavatti from The Duality were the lovely models.

We'd had to postpone the shoot a few weeks because it had been rainy and misty (basically, Stanley was engulfed in a damp white cloud), but managed to squeeze it in on a chilly day in December.  I was glad we did because it was just at the start of the holiday season and we were all ready to head off for family time over the next month.  

The ladies were really good sports because it was freezing.  You can hardly tell by their gorgeous smiles and summery looks.

 These two looks, the polkadot wrap dress and Jungle Lily bag and the three quarter sleeve wrap dress and hat and Skyline bag, might possibly be my two favorite looks from the shoot. It's like the accessories and dresses were just made for each other and the look came together quite naturally.

I've really had fun with my recent styling adventures.  It's not so difficult when the items I'm working with are so amazing.  And, I really must give credit to my lovely friend and photographer Akiko who has such natural talent for seeing angles and going out on a ledge (quite literally) for a good picture.  I also like how we work together, from our planning to the actual day, to see the project through.  We'll be working together on some more shoots soon.

The lighting seen in the next two pictures also played an integral part in the success of our shoot.  We made a good call postponing the shoot for a better day and couldn't have asked for better weather.

These What the Frock dresses and the Louella Odie bags and clutches are all available now on their websites.  Do make sure to click over to check them out.  Louella Odie offers a 10% discount if you sign up for their mailing list and What the Frock offers free shipping worldwide.  There's no excuse not to, really.

And don't forget to see the actual look book on Louella Odie for yourself.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Style inspiration: Stevie Nicks

Not much to say, really, but I opened my email this morning and stumbled onto this picture of Stevie Nicks via Terms of Endearment.  I mean, wow, right? 

Lately, I've found myself drawn to classic bohemian looks from the seventies.  Carefree, flowy, and feminine.  Floppy hats, layers of lace and chiffon, boots.  I mean, total sex appeal.  I've tried my own version of it, even.  See? and there are more examples on my Instagram feed if you search #bootsandhat.

I don't ever want to pigeon hole myself into any one era when I wear vintage.  There is so much to love. Here are two Instagram accounts I follow faithfully, who I look to for this Stevie Nicks bohemian type of inspiration: @noirohio and @aavintedge

Check them out yourself!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Eco Chic Design Award Finalist Interview: Malaysia

The Eco Chic Design Award Grand Final was two weeks ago, already. What a whirlwind it was!  The night is still fresh in my mind. Such inspiration and creativity that I got to witness for myself, but I didn't get a chance yet to share the interview with Malaysian finalist Veronica Lee with you.  She's a Malaysian girl like me (can you feel that national pride?)  While she didn't walk away with any of the awards handed out that night, she did win the Ford Design Challenge in which she and Swedish finalist Amandah Andersson created a lovely outfit using recycled parts found in a car.  In three hours. Have a look at the creations, you'd never believe they were once car parts.

Tell us a little about yourself.  How has growing up in Malaysia/Singapore shaped who you are?
I’m 22 this year and I’m from Malaysia. Being in a country with lots of races and cultures is really nice because you tend to see and experience different types of colors of life.  I think that’s how I got creative; I imagine a lot of things. Malaysia is a really nice country.

How did you become interested in fashion and how did you get where you are today?
I love music a lot and since I was young, I’ve been thinking that music and fashion link well together.  And I really like fashion.  I read a lot of fashion magazines when I was young.   At first my parents didn’t really let me pursue fashion.  So I persuaded them and I showed them that I really wanted to do it, and started by making clothes for my Barbies. Then my dad realized that I am talented in this way, so he finally agreed.

What are some of your fashion influences? 
I am a very emotional person.  I love a collection that really has a story behind it.  I love how the story translates into a collection and I think it’s really meaningful that way.  I’m also a big fan of architecture and shapes, and I love clothes that are oversized and have a lot of shapes in them. 

When did you learn about sustainability in fashion and what have you learned as part of your journey to become a Finalist for the Eco Chic Design Awards?
I didn’t know much about sustainable fashion when I was still studying in Malaysia.  Only when I got to Singapore to do my degree did I get to know more, as we have classes and modules on sustainable fashion.  It’s really nice to see how every action we take is going to make a difference to the environment, to nature, to society.  As a fashion designer, if we could reduce or reuse waste, it would be making a lot of difference in the world.

Describe the inspiration behind the collection you are developing for the Grand Final? What sustainable techniques have you used?
For my The EcoChic Design Award 2014/15 collection, I’ve been using lots of fabric waste from previous collections.  It’s really interesting to see how that waste, something that seems so insignificant, can be turned into something that can be worn on the runway.  I think that’s really nice. 

I tried to limit myself.  My favourite piece is the grey look, where I don’t have any cut lines on it.  It’s really interesting to see how I can put a piece of 4 metre fabric on a mannequin and just drape and it can become something very new, something I’ve never seen before.   So that’s why it’s really exciting.

With this collection for The EcoChic Design Award 2014/15, I got my inspiration from the ancient empresses of China.  And I contrast that with the clothing women wear in the modern day.  So if you look closely at my collection, you’ll find the details of ancient China, like empress clothes, very flowing and feminine.   But I also included modern details and styles in it so it looks more contemporary.

Zero-waste draping is one of the major techniques I used, as well as reconstruction of second hand garments and up-cycling.

* * * * *

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your answers with me, Veronica.  I'm excited about how you'll be able to share some of what you've learned about sustainable fashion design with our fellow Malaysians.

A quick update: 

Singapore Finalist, Laurensia Salim (who I interviewed here on my blog) was awarded a special prize by John Hardy on the evening of the Grand Final. She will be going on an educational trip to John Hardy's design and production facilities in Bali where she will learn more about sustainability in their design, production and business practices (they are the leading sustainable jewellery brand).

Good things are in store for both these Southeast Asian designers, I know it!

Friday, January 30, 2015

How does your garden grow?

Mine's a rooftop garden.  But it's a garden nonetheless.

In those pots behind me grow pineapples, basil, spring onions, lemongrass, tomatoes, aloe vera, and other herbs.  Have you ever eaten a pineapple straight off the plant?  It's the sweetest pineapple I've ever tasted.  

Our rooftop garden isn't as lush and green as I imagine Karl Lagerfeld envisioned for his SS/15 Haute Couture Spring Garden collection for Chanel, but my outfit isn't exactly Haute Couture now, is it.

I normally don't get style inspiration from the runway.  My looks are less sophisticated, less high fashion.   But something about these looks (see more here) caught my eye.  There's something very wearable about them.  

There's whimsy.  There's vintage appeal.  They wore beanies! I think I'd wear nearly everything that he sent down the runway.  If I had the funds, of course.

So here's my I'm a Norbyah version.  More me.  Way less expensive.

And here's my silly runway walk.  Bear with me, alright?

I considered trying to edit the tiredness out of my face, but I left it in.  Work has been busy this week, students are finishing research papers.

And my mouth is still too severe.  At least I'm looking into the camera, right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Inspired to knit

Lately, I've found myself looking at knitting patterns again.  And I keep seeing images that make me think, I could make that. Like this knitted turban headband on Caylee of If You Seek Style.

It's been quite a while since I've knitted, but I think I've got the bug again.  I've always loved knitting because it's so relaxing. My mum taught me and lately she's been teaching my little ones, too.  I feel like it connects me to a past that is fading.  Handicrafts just aren't as prevalent as they once were.

My favorite dress by Kevin Germanier

Or are they?

Crocheted doilies on Danish finalist's designs.

At the Eco Chic Design Award Grand Final last week, a couple of the finalists used knitting techniques to weave together the most unlikely materials.  The Danish finalist Kristine Marie Hanson, stitched together old doilies.  The winner, Kevin Germanier from the UK, used some knitting techniques to weave together industrial materials.  The results for both were amazing.

So, I decided that over my Chinese New Year break, I'll make my own DIY knitted turban headband.  I found this pattern which looks easy, and it shouldn't take me long.  Now I just need to get through the next three weeks so I can get started.

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