Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcoming the New Year

Happy 2009, originally uploaded by desireux.

Hello 2009!

I'm welcoming the new year with many great memories from 2008. Thank you very much for all the love and support during the past year.

Cheers, and here's wishing you a great year ahead!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Colors for Christmas, originally uploaded by desireux.

Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings and Happy Holidays to all of you. I hope you have a lovely time where ever you are.

I will be in New York for Christmas, really excited, its my first time visiting the Big Apple!

Btw, those cookies are delicious! They are from this Martha Stewart recipe. This batch of cookies were for Nick, who kindly requested them for his students. So sweet of him!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Decisions, decisions, decisions ...

Sneak Preview ... , originally uploaded by desireux.

Hmmm.... I don't know if I should keep the top two love birds, or just go with the bottom ones. I love how the top ones look suspended in the air, especially with their wings outspread but I'm worried it looks too busy.

And... I don't know if I should keep this design in red or stay with my usual white 180 degree cards. I really like how bold it looks with black, but on the other hand white looks clean and bright.

Thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Roast Chicken & Avocado Black Peppercorn Ranch Naan

Yummy, yummy. There's always extra when I have a whole roast chicken, and this is one of my favorite ways to savor the leftovers. I cut the meat into smallish bits, including the skin (for that sinful bit of goodness). I then layer it on to naan (a type of flat bread), followed by a generous helping of avocados (because I LOVE them), Black Peppercorn Ranch dressing, a sprinkling of crushed peppercorns and sliced cheese. Put it under the broiler till the cheese starts to bubble.

The best thing is that this "recipe" is so flexible ... you can substitute the bread using pizza dough, pita bread, tortillas, you get the idea. If ranch dressing is not your cup of tea, I'm sure your favorite dressing will taste just as good.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Flowers in my hair

i dreamt of flowers in my hair, originally uploaded by desireux.

Last night I dreamt of flowers in my hair. It was sweet, someone came up to me, gently tucked a stalk of tiny flowers in my hair, and walked away.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Show me your tree ...

Show me your Christmas trees :) I love looking at photos of Christmas trees so if you have already set yours up for the year do leave a link in the comments section and I'll hop over to visit.

Anyway, for my Christmas tree pop-up card this year, I decided to go with a more traditional theme of red, gold and green. I like how vibrant it looks and in the coming year, i'm going to try to incorporate more color into my pop-ups. So instead of having 99% of my pop-ups cut on a white background, you might be seeing more color!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's up!

It's up!, originally uploaded by desireux.

I just set up my Christmas tree. Love the red sparkly lights and shiny baubles. And my little handmade polymer clay ornaments. I'm thinking of making some more ornaments this year, maybe with felt. Laura aka Lupin, has some lovely tutorials for felt ornaments on her blog, like this one to make a Christmas Pudding. She also has the loveliest felt ornaments in her Etsy store so head over if you would like some lovelies for your tree this year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stevy Snowman goes to Hawaii

Stevy Snowman goes to Hawaii, originally uploaded by desireux.

Another fun project :)

Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, December 1, 2008

A fir branch, a beaver and snowflakes

A fir branch and a beaver, originally uploaded by desireux.

Once in a while I will receive a request for a card that just makes me smile. My latest one involved a beaver, a fir branch and snowflakes. It was a fun project :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I was about to head to bed last night when I just had to check the front page of Etsy. It was a beautiful front page, all sunny and yellow in contrast to the snow outside (yes, we had our first heavy snowfall, yay!), but one item stood out and made me go "Wow!". I clicked on the photo and it led me to one of the most amazing shops I've stumbled upon on Etsy.

In her store SprattersandJayne, yarn artist Rachael has the the biggest cowls I've seen! I love how she photographs them, they look so warm and cozy, perfect for the coming winter months. Even better still, they are adorned with the HUGE wooden buttons that are oh-so-adorable.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to you

Trimmings, originally uploaded by desireux.

This year will be a quiet Thanksgiving for me. November just flew by, it has been a very busy time of the year for both science and art projects. So yes, tonight I'm looking forward to a quiet dinner at my favorite chinese buffet and then a movie.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Teeny-Weeny ones

One lonely heart, originally uploaded by desireux.

My latest project involves cutting out tons of teeny-weeny letters. I always smile when I see LittlePut of Etsy's description of her location: Paper Coated in Portland. I feel you, LittlePut! With this project, I find the letters on my clothes, on the floor, in my sheets, and boy, do they have the ability to wander from room to room!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

When two become one

When two become one, originally uploaded by desireux.

I was making more of Red Nosed Rudolph when I noticed how cute they were before I glued them together.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Transient Beauty

Transient Beauty, originally uploaded by desireux.

The beauty of autumnal colors is often short lived. One day, everything around you is a warm gold, but it takes no more than a gusty afternoon and all you have left are naked branches. I was glad I walked a little slower to lunch on Tuesday.

The weather in Urbana-Champaign was lovely a few days ago. Even though it was November, I could wear my shorts out. It felt like I was in California! Even though I was feeling rather tired this week, the perfect weather and gorgeous colors were enough to make me smile. Today however was a day of thunderstorms. All the pretty colors were on the floor in muddy puddles. Soon the trees will be bare and cold, but winter has its own beauty, and it's approaching fast.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Snow Crystals in November

Pure and Peaceful, originally uploaded by desireux.

I finally made my snowflakes pop-up card :) This design took me quite some time, from the snowflake illustration to joining the snowflakes to make the intricate "network" of snowflakes at the top of the arch and finally putting the piece together.

One of the challenges of making pop-up cards is that one has to always think of the cutting step or the assembly step while proceeding with the illustration. The illustration has to look good as a cut-out, meaning that one has to think of it in terms of negative and positive spaces.

After the card is made, another challenge would be the photography of the card. I find these 180 degree cards easier to photograph because they are clearly three dimensional. However, for the 90 degree cards, the cards need to be at an angle where you can see the "pop up". This is an aspect which is important too, because I want my pop-ups to not only look good in person but in photographs too. This is why I even envision the photo taking process at the designing stage of the pop-up.

I have my Snow Crystals pop-up card on Etsy now, together with the rest of my 2009 Holiday Collection which I will post of more in days to come. Meanwhile, hope November goes well for all of you!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Summary of Little Pleasures: Soap, Football, Happy Owners & A Flattened Turkey

I received DennisAnderson's Jasmine Soap Bar (that pretty pink soap in the first photo) a few weeks ago. It has been sitting on the little table beside my bed, its scent just tempting me to use it! Finally, this weekend I felt like pampering myself, so I opened it up even though my present bar of soap was still about three quarters of the way through. The oatmeal side was just the right roughness and I had such a lovely time scrubbing away.

On Saturday, I was at the Homecoming Game. Although the Fighting Illini lost to the Gophers, the atmosphere was so full of energy! The last few minutes kept me on my feet, cheering on top of my lungs.. hoping for just one more touchdown from the Illinois side. It didn't happen though :) Even so, I had a nice time. It's just a great feeling seeing so many people wearing orange, uniting to support their team.

Another little pleasure is the feedback I've been receiving for the Halloween Pop-Ups. Their new owners are pleased with them and it always makes me smile to hear that.

On Sunday, I was browsing through Treasuries on Etsy and came across this amazing shop. I've seen Polymer Clay used in many creative ways, but this one made me go wow! Robin, from NothingLikeIt makes coasters, and these are no ordinary coasters. They are clever, cute and colorful! The toasters are 'flattened' critters and they have the funniest sayings on them. One of my favorites would have to be the flattened turkey in the photo which says "Eat More Ham!" :P

Friday, October 10, 2008

Go Illini

I finally managed to get a ticket for the Illini vs Minnesota tomorrow morning. It's our Homecoming game, and it's going to be very exciting in Memorial Stadium.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Mummy

The Mummy, originally uploaded by desireux.

I have a friend who LOVES the Mummy. Probably should give her this card for Halloween :)

The Mummy takes longer to make compared to most of my pop-ups because he needs to be wrapped! I use double sided tape on white paper, cut them into strips, and slowly bundle up this mummy. Initially I wanted to make the whole card into a 'tomb' shape, but after a few prototypes of various sizes, it still looked much better as a rectangle.

Today I went to a career cafe where alumni from different scientific fields outside academia meet with graduate students and post docs for a round table type discussion. My first session was with a scientist working in a start up and it was very enlightening talking to him. Although I'm a few years away from graduation, I'm starting to go to different career events or fairs to get an idea of what lies outside the 'grad school' world. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their experiences in the industry and the different paths they took to get there. Some are really passionate about their jobs and talk about the satisfaction being directly involved in bringing a product to the market. I can relate to that and love that feeling, having a product that will directly impact the customer- be it designing a card that will make someone very happy or working on a drug that will improve someone's quality of life.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Meow!, originally uploaded by desireux.

This kitty has been getting some attention over the weekend. Some lovely Etsians, curlyfrysc , AzureGrackle and recycledideas have featured An Encounter with a Cat in their treasuries.

This card is constructed based on my basic arch for 180 degree pop-up cards, but is different in that the tree branches in each arch is not identical to the other. This gives the overlapping branches more depth, making it even more interesting visually. One of the new owners of my pop-up cards mentioned that she enjoyed playing with the shadows cast by by the cuts and it really made me happy to hear that. When I am making the cards or taking photographs of them, my illumination is a pretty strong halogen lamp and I too enjoy looking at the interplay of light and shadow.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Four adorable Owls

I made a batch of cards to include with the pop-up cards when they go to their new owners. They were very fun to make, and I think look much cuter than my previous black and white ones printed at Office Max. I found four hand stamps, each of an adorable owl and another that says "thank you". These go on one side, and on the other side, I have my info also stamped on. A few months ago, I saw a tutorial on The Storque on how to make business cards. It's here if you want to take a look. They used a customizable stamp and that was the first time I've heard of it. So, last weekend, I went to Staples and managed to find something similar. I'm very happy with it- not only is it customizable (you can change the letters many times), but it looks kind of "rustic", which matches my owls =)

I'm planning to do my own mini tutorial for these pink cards, so stay tuned!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcoming Fall

Welcoming Fall, originally uploaded by desireux.

The weather forecast predicts that we will finally have "fall-like" temperatures in the coming week. Now, whether that is true or not is another story, but in between pop-ups and lab, I've managed to squeeze in a little bit of knitting. Having been more than a year since I picked up my needles, it took a few experimental casting-ons before I got the hang of it and could knit almost through feeling. My scarf (oh it is a lovely blue that will go really well with my maroon cardigan) is already about a foot and a half long, so hopefully sometime next week I can wear it =)

The pop-up card on the right is also in preparation for the cooler months ahead . It is an improved version of my Falling Leaves card designed last year. This one is waaay cooler- there's the cutest little blue bird perched on the fence. The cover is a warmer brown, makes the autumnal colors really pop!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mr. Owl was on Explore!

Mr. Owl's Haunted Castle, originally uploaded by desireux.

Mr. Owl was really thrilled to be on Flickr's Explore. I was just as thrilled. Of all my Halloween Pop-Ups he's my favorite!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing, originally uploaded by desireux.

I received this in the mail, a really thoughtful thank you card. I read the message and it made me all warm and fuzzy inside *big smile*.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Experiment 10-31: The Results

The EyeBall Experiment, originally uploaded by desireux.

After the teaser, here are the results of my experiment. My hypothesis held its ground, the eyeballs really do float in Pink Potion #5 =)

Initially I wanted to make an "eyeball" martini ... replacing the classic olive with an oh so juicy eyeball. But I've been toying with the idea of pop-up cards with colorful potions in various test tubes and beakers, so I thought why not incorporate it into a Halloween theme. After all, a crazy scientist with his potent chemicals, not to mention eyeballs! always makes a good horror show :P

This is also my first pop-up card where I've incorporated some hand-drawn elements onto the card itself. The red veins on the eyeballs are done with a red sharpie. I'm quite pleased with how they make the eyeballs a little bit more spooky.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Experiment 10-31

A study of eyeball densitiy, originally uploaded by desireux.

Experiment 10-31.

Hypothesis: Eyeballs will float in Potion #5 (CH2COOH-PO4) and sink in Potion #876 (NH4-ClCH3).

Method: Harvest fresh eyeballs from your organism of choice. Prepare potions with extreme caution. Gently drop eyeballs into potions.

Results: Stay tuned!

[ No eyeballs were harmed in the making of "Experiment 10-31". Please do not attempt to make Potions #5 and #876 ]

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thank You!

Thank You!, originally uploaded by desireux.

A big, warm thank you to TalliB and OldWaysForTheseDays for including i Love U in their beautiful treasuries.

Talli's Coffee and Berry color scheme gives such a energetic vibe (not to mention all that caffeine!), while I feel all warm and fuzzy looking at OldWay's No White After Labor Day.

Talli creates funky winter accessories so if you are looking to stand out from the crowd this cold season, do check out her Etsy store. OldWaysFor TheseDays has a love for vintage and it shows in her store filled with very pretty "rescued" vintage pieces.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back in the Store ...

, originally uploaded by desireux.

If you are looking for a special Eid ul-Fitr card for your family and friends this year, look no further. Just stop by Pop-Ups by tracychong , as they are once again making their annual appearance in the store. Featuring a pop-up mosque against a rich, plum background, this card is sure to impress!

Monday, September 1, 2008

All that glitters

All that glitters, originally uploaded by desireux.

It's been a wonderfully productive weekend so far. I love three day weekends.

I woke up Saturday morning, feeling very happy that I could wake up without the alarm clock for two more days. Went to lab, and saw results that gave me hope. Finally, the long hours and multiple trouble shooting steps of the past few weeks are paying off. It was then off to a potluck BBQ with great food, old friends, new acquaintances and a short, fun game of frisbee. And great sunny weather!

I came home and continued working on a set of gold and wine pop-up wedding invitations. The color combination looks really classy, the bride-to-be has great taste! I'm in the finishing stages of this custom order and things are going great. Can't wait to see the rows of finished cards. I always get a thrill out of lining up the cards and admiring them before shipping them out =)

Before sleeping last night, I was in a semi-lucid state and ideas for my Halloween line of pop-up cards just kept coming. I love it when that happens. So today, I spent some time with the music playing in the background, lying on my bed, sketching them out. I can't wait to see them take a three dimensional form!

And yay, I can wake up late tomorrow ... life is good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I've taken the plunge!

To try handmade soaps. If I have to choose one handmade goodie on Etsy which I find so fascinating, it would be soap. Since I joined Etsy, I've admired from my computer screen the huge array of beautiful soaps. These talented soapers not only make gorgeous looking soap, but their pictures and descriptions almost make you want to eat them! You might be thinking .. eat them? No way... But with names like Coconut Mochi and Raspberry Walnut Panna Cotta (photo on the right), how can you resist?

Anyway, I just took my first handmade soap bath with my Tropical Style Hawaiian Black Sea Salt (photo on the left) from an Etsy seller, Savor. It was fun, I smell great and I'm loving it!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Off to the Windy City

LOVE, originally uploaded by desireux.

I'll be playing tour guide in Chicago. Will be back hopefully with more photos and inspiration.

Meanwhile, have a good weekend with your loved ones, or spending time doing something you love!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I didn't reach the top ...

I didn't reach the top ... , originally uploaded by desireux.

Tonight I went for a preview of the newly renovated ARC- Activities and Recreation center at my university. I've been waiting for nearly two years for this, but it's all worth it. Now I can swim outdoors (well, at least for one month plus) and go rock climbing. Aside from all the fancy strength and conditioning equipment, the climbing wall is a great new addition. It spans 4 stories- 34 feet, and they have proper shoes, harnesses, and helmets. When I tried it, they were staff belayers, but I don't know how it will be when it actually opens. I hope they continue to have them so that I don't have to go with a partner to climb. Anyway, it was not an easy climb and I didn't manage to reach the top. I reached a point where my feet and hands could not both reach the climbing holds and my arms didn't have enough strength to hoist myself up. But, I will go back and reach the top one day!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Little encounters during the day [or night]

Zebra car?, originally uploaded by desireux.

My cell phone died last week, and I love my new one! It has a camera and bluetooth, which means that I can upload my photos very easily. My usual camera is a clunky-Olympus and it really isn't practical to carry with me everyday. For a short while I had a Canon Sd1000 which I loved. It was small and sleek but most importantly fit in my handbag. I carried it around taking photos of little bits and pieces of my life. Oh how I missed it when I gave it back to my brother.

So now I'm really enjoying my phone's camera, even though its only 1.3 mp. I used to think that having a good, fancy camera was extremely important, but not anymore. Yes, it is for taking photos of my pop-up cards or more "serious" photography, but to have a camera which you can just whip out and not miss out on those precious little moments [like a three-wheeled zebra car] is just as important.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Glued to the TV

Statue of a lady, originally uploaded by desireux.

I was watching the Olympics for the past 3 hours. Women's gymnastics and men's swimming was going on. I always get this fuzzy feeling when I see the look of determination when the athletes perform, their big smile when they've finished a routine ... the hugs, the encouragement. It's so touching to see that look in their eyes when they are on the podium and the national anthem is played. And Michael Phelps was just amazing to watch :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Not moon craters

Craters, originally uploaded by desireux.

I was at Pebble Beach a few weeks ago. The rocks there were beautiful, they had craters of all shapes and sizes carved into them. These craters were filled with naturally polished pebbles of all shades of grey and brown, hence the name Pebble Beach. When I first got there, it was so cold and windy that I didn't really take the time to look around me. Then, as I started taking photos, I began to notice how amazing the patterns were. Each one was different and made me go 'wow' over and over again. Little things like this remind me how important it is to slow down and really pay attention to what goes on around me.

This Pebble Beach is not the one at Carmel. It's a San Mateo County Beach located near Pescadero. To see more photos of the lovely rocks and pebbles, clicking on the photo will take you to my Flickr set.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back from a break

Take 2, originally uploaded by desireux.

It was a nice month. I took time off from lab and from making pop-up cards to spend time with family and friends. It was a much needed break filled with mini-adventures and memorable moments.

The photo was taken at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, located on the California coast 50 miles south of San Francisco. I was dangling my legs over a cliff looking down at the very blue sea. The wind was so strong and it was quite chilly! I was in my hoodie, hugging myself for warmth and quite surprised that it could get so cold in the middle of summer :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Love Poem

Updated: Loving You, originally uploaded by desireux.

If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love's sake only. Do not say,
'I love her for her smile--her look--her way
Of speaking gently,--for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed or change for thee--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry:
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I love reading these 'messages' inside bottle caps, fortune cookies, and labels. This love poem was inside the wrapper of a bar of yummy chilies & cherries dark chocolate. One very sweet present I received once was a bottle of 365 notes, one to open each day. It was so much fun to open and I would even bring some along with me if I had to be out of town so that i wouldn't miss a day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Elle the Baby Elephant

Elle the Baby Elephant, originally uploaded by desireux.

Hi everyone, meet Elle the baby elephant. She was born on a quiet night in June. Elle has the cutest little toe nails and loves splashing around in the bathtub. Elle loves to munch on sweet, young branches of sugarcane. She brings love and joy to anyone she meets :D

Monday, June 16, 2008

i Love U too

i Love U too, originally uploaded by desireux.

i Love U too is the 'girly' version of this Coffee and Cream colored one which made it to Flickr's Explore page sometime last week. I usually check my Flickr Stats each night before sleeping and I noticed a huge spike in traffic one day. After digging deeper, I found out the good news.

Anyway, as much as I like the Coffee and Cream one, I really love the color of this card. It's a Strawberry Pink and wrapped like a present with a Lime Green ribbon. When I was making this card, I was thinking how sweet it would be if a guy gave this card to a girl. I know I would be so touched, and I hope the lucky girl who receives this card feels that way too.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From the fortune cookie: Choices

Originally uploaded by desireux

"Life is a series of choices. Today yours are good ones."

Well, tonight I decided not to make any pop-up cards, but instead edit and upload some macro photos of flowers and dandelions I took on my way back from lab yesterday. They are available here. And now I'm going to relax and continue reading Seth Godin's latest book- Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing Out of Sync? for half an hour before I sleep. How nice :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Oh Cupcake!

Oh Cupcake!
Originally uploaded by desireux

It's full blown cupcake fever. It started with my Strawberry Cupcake Pop-Up card, then a friend told me about this new cupcake store in downtown Champaign, to a "date" to make cupcakes for lab next Thursday (I'm so excited!), and a request for a cupcake pop-up card for birthday invitations ... and finally my first treasury which of course is about cupcakes! Here's my treasury Oh Cupcake!.

So, for those of you who don't know, a treasury is a curated collection of items from Etsy sellers. You can select the featured items according to a theme, or just include your favorite items. Anyone with an Etsy account can curate a treasury as explained here. I've always heard stories about people trying really hard to snag a treasury because you have to wait till some treasuries expire and the number falls below 333, but today, I was just browsing through and saw that it was going to happen in about 5 minutes! So, I just left my window open and lo and behold I managed to get one. It was really quite fun choosing the cupcakes to be in my treasury and I would probably try to get another treasury in the future.


Originally uploaded by desireux

So what did I do for my birthday? I spent most of the night curled up in bed reading a present from a friend~ the book Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I went to watch the movie a few weeks ago and loved the story, especially the graphics, so I was very pleasantly surprised when she gave me the book this morning. What a thoughtful present! It was raining so I picked the book up and finished it in one sitting. It is a comic book, and through her strong, unique illustrations and dialogs, Satrapi tells her story about growing up in Iran during the years of upheaval. It is a very poignant story, and she portrays a whole range of emotions threaded out with just the right amount of raw humor, making this book one of the best books I've read in a long time. The book is available here and this is the here if you are interested.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Strawberry Frosted Cupcake

Strawberry Frosted Cupcake
Originally uploaded by desireux

Maybe my subconscious mind is telling me I miss the kitchen? I think the last dessert I baked was a cheesecake more than a year ago. Lately, I have been spending a little bit more time in the kitchen cooking dinners as opposed to eating out so maybe, just maybe.. I might bake something.

Anyway, this is my latest design. There's even a lemon creme one too! I'm thinking of "baking" some other flavors too depending on how well these are received. Rich chocolate, blueberry jam ... what would you like to have?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sometimes you need to slow down.

Originally uploaded by desireux

I seldom write about science, but this is special. I'm writing about the most annoying buffer to make: 5x Maleic Acid Buffer (MAB). Hopefully, these tips will spare some other graduate student some grief.

The thing about MAB buffer is that it starts of with a very low pH and you have to add sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to bring it up to around 7.5. This takes quite a lot of NaOH, but, once it reaches a certain point, the pH will increase very drastically. So yesterday, I was at around pH 7.0 and up to that point, adding about 5 pellets of NaOH would increase the pH by about 0.2. However, I found out the hard way that adding 5 pellets of NaOH to the solution when it was at 7.0 brought it up to 8.45!

This was not the first time though :) It has happened before, but MAB lasts quite long so each time I make it, I forget my "mistake" and repeat it. This time I made BIG BOLD notes beside my recipe. It will not happen again.

However, if this happens to you, fear not, just calculate the reagents needed for an extra 0.2 L and proceed with the pHing process as usual.

And here are some observations when I did mine:

The solution will be warm and cloudy. It will clear up at around pH 6.0. At this stage, the pH is still quite stable. From around 6.7, addition of 1 pellet of NaOH will bring the pH up 0.1.

At around pH 7.0, go VERY slowly, because the pH increases drastically at this point. It took just one pellet to go from 7.0 to 7.17 and another pellet to go to 7.4.

*Also, I've noticed that MAB can go bad easily if contaminated so I always aliquot it into a small bottle which I use from*

Monday, May 12, 2008

Thinking outside the box

Happy Father's Day
Originally uploaded by desireux

This design was quite a tricky one. It looks simple, just like the Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary ones but initially the little apostrophe gave me some trouble.

For my pop-ups, I like to have my cut outs well anchored so they do not "hang freely". In this case, if I did a normal [ 's ] like the rest of the fonts, the apostrophe would only be joined to the top and if you can imagine, it would be able to swing up and down because it is not connected to the bottom. This creates a problem especially when you close the card because it can get squashed.

So, I was thinking of different ways to remedy it.. which led to complex ideas like using string to connect it! Then someone made a casual comment about thinking outside the box, and the 'aha' moment came soon after that. The current design completely by passes the freely hanging apostrophe, and looks rather charming too! It's not too cute for a man, and retains the elegance of this design. Reminds me of the sweetheart candy too :)

This card is available at if you would like to get one for your dad this Father's Day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The day the ground shook

Dancing Butterflies
Originally uploaded by desireux

Yesterday, April 18th, was a very significant day for me. Not only did an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale hit the midwest, I passed my Qualifying Exams, and it was the first-year anniversary of

I was awaken in the middle of the night by the glass mirrors on my cupboards rattling rather violently. I then realized that the soft board walls were moving! My first thought was earthquake, but I was kind of dazed and just looked at the shaking and waiting for it to stop. It felt quite long in my semi-conscious state but after it stopped I went back to sleep. On one hand, it felt like an earthquake, but then I never knew that there could be earthquakes in the midwest! The next morning in lab my labmate asked me if I felt the earthquake and I thought "wow, it was real! ... my first earthquake!"

Then, it was time for me to sit for my Qualifying Exam, the first major milestone in my doctorate program. I was nervous, but at the same time a little excited too- to present my research after two years as a graduate student and after a month and a half of intense writing and reading up on literature. Exactly halfway through my presentation, the projector started shaking and my slide on the screen was moving quite badly. Instantly the discussion shifted away from my slide to "Earthquake!". My first thought was "Wow, who gets an earthquake during their quals??" (I later found out it was an aftershock measuring 4.2). It was kind of funny too because there were some "ground breaking, earth shattering research jokes" :D

Anyway, I passed my quals. I was quite happy after presenting and after the professors on my committee told me I had passed. My committee posed many questions, suggestions, ideas and comments, and overall, I felt that those two hours were very beneficial. It was a great learning experience and I'm sure the suggestions will help my progress. Although it was a rather stressful period preparing for the quals, I'm glad the department makes it a milestone which we have to pass. It made me think about my project very carefully, plan what I want to achieve in the future, and more importantly read the literature. Before I started my preparation, I didn't really see the direction or purpose of my research, and definitely did not read enough. Now, I have a clear idea of what I want to achieve and can picture my plan. I'm excited!

Moving on to the pop-up cards, it's been a year since I first registered Pop-Ups by tracychong on Etsy. It's one of the best things I have done. When I first started making the pop-up cards, I didn't know what lay ahead. Looking back at the past 12 months, I see lots of hardwork, sacrifice, frustration, but what stands out the most is the immense satisfaction of designing, creating, seeing results from numerous hours of discussion and planning as well as hearing happy stories from the new owners of the pop-ups. A big thank you to everyone for their support (and to someone for putting up with all the zillion bits of little paper), and especially to my business partner, I could not have done it without you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mother's Day Cards

Flower for Mom
Originally uploaded by desireux

Here are my pop-up cards for Mother's Day. As you can see, there are flowers, butterflies and ladybugs, all inspired by my latest obsession with potted plants in lab.

A short update on my plants: The gladiolus sprouts have become giant leaves! They are probably 3 feet tall now, and still in the pot on my indoor window ledge. If they grow any taller, I might have to transplant them outdoors. The tulips sprouts are just starting to become leaves. The sprouts are so fat they look like they are going to burst.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Coming soon: Mother's Day Pop-Up Cards

Coming soon: Mother's Day Pop-Up Cards
Originally uploaded by desireux

I'm very excited to reveal my new designs for Mother's Day. Can anyone guess what the theme would be? (Hint: What's my latest obsession?)

On April 1st, do visit to see them :)

Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gladiolus sprouts

Gladiolus sprouts

Here are my sprouting Gladiolus plants which I was so excited about. It's amazing how fast they grow. There are five sprouts now, I planted 8. Today my lab mate gave me an old indoor plant book which she got at the library. I think people are surprised at my sudden fascination with plants, but I really think they make the lab more cheerful and definitely more spring-y.

Here's my collection of potted plants in lab. Aren't they pretty?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Days

Make me smile
Originally uploaded by desireux

This weekend I bought two more plants to put in lab. A pot of blooming daffodils and a pot of lilies. The lilies were still buds, but that night one bud started to bloom.

Today I brought both plants into lab and I was so surprised to see my gladiolus (mentioned here) starting to sprout! I was so excited and smiling to myself. Luckily there was no one there *blush* :P

I'll bring my camera to lab tomorrow to take photos of the sprouts.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My budding Epiphyllum

My budding Epiphyllum
Originally uploaded by desireux

Here's my Epiphyllum with its baby leaves which I blogged about here.

It's spring break but I won't be going anywhere far this year. Instead I'll be in lab writing my proposal for my qualifying exams, trying to get it done by Tuesday. It's great to be able to spend the next week writing/reading peacefully and not rushing around campus.

I'll also be working on my Mother's Day collection of pop-up cards which I will unveil in April. I might show a sneak preview before then ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Originally uploaded by desireux

I am thankful for friends to laugh with.
I am thankful for lab mates who are a joy to work with.
I am thankful for the wonderful students I teach.
I am thankful for the very interesting class I'm taking.
I am thankful for the afternoon of warmth where I could go out in my cardigan and eat ice cream.
I am thankful for having to write my proposal and realizing the importance of reading past literature.
I am thankful for being able to create my pop-up cards.