Tag: Crafts

The Birth of My Creativity

The Birth of My Creativity

Last year I showed my Mom the Needlepoint Christmas Stocking I made for her  showing two penguins hugging each other with her name ‘Pauline’ on it.  I explained that she was the bigger penguin on top and I was the smaller penguin below.  Then I gave her the crocheted Popcorn Corner-to Corner Blanket I also made to keep her warm.  She started crying, saying they were beautiful;  Then added sadly that she didn’t teach me how to do any of those things.  But I corrected her right way!!  “Mom,” I reminded her, “You taught me how to sew, knit and crochet when I was only ten years old!!”  Then I added, “If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the things I do today.”  My Mom not only gave birth to me, but she gave birth to my creativity.

I would watch my Mom all the time while was she made my sister and I all of our dresses for school.  At the time I didn’t mind that my sister and I were dressed alike because I was proud that my Mom made them.  None of my classmates had dresses like we had.  Besides, the dresses Mom bought were made of nylon and I just hated those ‘sticky icky’ things.  They itched and made me scratch like crazy, but Mom told us we looked cute in them.  Who cares about cute, when you itch all the time??  So, it was no wonder when one day we had to go to a party and Mom dressed us in those icky dresses.  I rebelled (true Leo that I am) and said I wanted to take it off and wear one of Mom-made dresses.  Mom tried to reason with me, telling me that the dress on was more ‘dressed-up’ than the one I picked out.  But I wouldn’t accept (again true Leo) and kept trying to take it off, stating (also stubborn Leo I am) I wouldn’t leave until they let me change.  Well, my parents decided to leave the house anyway (which was actually a trick to scare me and just went around the block).  That didn’t stop me from wanting to take off the dress, but I still couldn’t unbutton it.  I few across the street to my friend’s house to ask her to unbutton me, knowing I could watch my house from there.  Meanwhile, my parents had returned only to find the house open and I was nowhere to be seen!  When After my friend finished, I went home.  My parents were not happy with me, but I defended myself and said I could see the house and I HAD to take this icky dress off!!  Well, the lesson was really on my parents and they admitted to each other that I adamant about it, so they let me change into the dress I chose by my Mom. 

It was no surprise that I hounded my Mom to let me sew like her.  So at the age of ten, she bought the fabric and pattern and taught me how to make a simple sleeveless blouse.  It was plain by normal standards, but it was my first project.  And to this day, I have made hundreds of different clothing from tops and jackets to dresses and pants – which does not include the hundreds of Barbie clothes I made.  Mom coached me on all of the things after that first blouse.  But Mom started it all. 

I went on to sew for not only myself, but relatives and friends too.  I think the hardest items I had to sew were the different bridesmaid dresses for several weddings I was commission to do unpaid.  Nothing like having to sew five or more dresses for different-sized bridesmaids especially when those dresses that had to be corrected for size and then hemmed.  It wasn’t so bad for those girls that lived locally, but usually for those that lived far away and only arrived a few days before the wedding, I had to stay up late several nights to complete the dresses on time.  I think the worst case was when I made a bridesmaid dress for a girl that was as busty in front as she was in the back!  Took me a while to figure out that rather than to try to adjust the pattern, the solution was to make the front the same as the back and thank goodness it fit!!  No surprise that this caused my retirement from the seamstress business for good.

Knitting and crocheting gives me real relaxation, another thing I can thank my Mom for.  And now that I have time to do those things during the medical treatments I take, I have made a bunch of blankets, baskets, scarfs and beanies.  No, it not for only the ‘elderly’ to do, but for those who are creative and like to make things and give them away.  It is an item that for those that receive them remember for a long time.  Once I crocheted a blanket for a friend that supposed to be a gift to her grandson.  Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think she gave it as a gift…she kept it for herself!!

My Mom also sacrificed a lot for my sister and I to be in the arts.  She made sure we took dance and piano lessons, chopping vegetables at my Uncle’s Chinese Restaurant at night.  It was hard and grueling work, but Mom did it for us.  I started dancing as a Sugar Plum Fairy in the Christmas Show at the age of five.  No, don’t think anyone in the class knew what we were doing, we kept bumping into each other.  But we were sure cute, if I do say so myself.  I advanced all the way in ballet to toe shoes, modern and tap.  That gave me the training to allow me to hit the dance floor with a vengeance!!  Love dancing.  I still love playing piano to this day.  Nothing like house-sitting for a friend that had a house with a street that surrounded the whole house.  I played to all hours of the night and bothered no one!!

When the scrapbooking craze came out, I went along right with them.  I even became a Creative Memories Demonstrator to get the supplies at wholesale.  Since I had hundreds of photos, it was easy for me to organize and eventually make complete scrapbooks into Memory Books to relive the events and trips of my life.  A blog article on Easy Scrapbooking with appear in the lineup.

The last addition to my crafting has been card making. Hallmark has been nice, but it gets expensive and my relatives and friends truly value my handmade cards using stamps from Stampin’ Up! Invoke Arts and the different vendors at the Stamp Conventions held three times a year (or at least I think that do). Going to card-making workshops, and craft fairs has been rewarding, and yes, expensive too, but well worth it. More in depth on this in another article.

So, you can see my Mom was a great contributor to my life in many ways.  And yes, Mom, you did teach me a lot for which I am eternally grateful, and I will always love and miss you.

Let Me Introduce Myself

Let Me Introduce Myself

Hi!  I’m Melanie Lee and this is my Lifestyle Blog:  Melanie’s Pandamonium.  You may ask, Why Melanie’s Pandamonium??  Well, it all started when I shared stories that happened in my life with new friends and acquaintances, and I would get, “You should write a book.”  Book??  Sure.  I could not imagine doing that until my friend Michael, a published books and poetry writer, told me several times that I really should write a book.  But the difference was that he also told me why I should—I had an entertaining way of telling stories and that he felt readers would enjoy reading them.  So I began to think about it, but knowing my limitations, I knew sitting down to write a manuscript wouldn’t happen even if my life depended on it.  I may be Chinese…but Amy Tan I am not.

I was speaking to Walter, another friend, a website business expert and blogs as well.  When I jokingly mentioned about me writing an autobiography, he was serious when he said I should.  But he suggested that I start a blog and not write chapters but blog articles.  With a blog, I didn’t have to write the whole book at once and could vary the blogs articles as I wished.  By George, I think he got it!!

So, here I am, naming my blog, Melanie’s Pandamonium, which is a play on the word “pandemonium.”  Not that my life is chaos, (at times it has been), but like I said, wide and varied and of course I had to include my favorite animal in the world – the Panda.  I hope you will be entertained from my stories and discussion on different topics, and in cases, I hope it helps too.  Not that I am a sage by any stretch of the imagination.  But sharing ideas, stories and thoughts might help others to help make their lives easier.  Just as I hope to learn things from other blogs.

If you read my ‘About Me’ Page, I am pure Chinese American.  Notice the “pure?”  I am 100% Chinese.  I didn’t think about that because all of my relatives—at least most of my generation, my parents’ generation and beyond are all 100% Chinese.  But when I was asked what else I had in me, that question perplexed me.  Hadn’t really thought of that angle that only Chinese ran in my blood for generations.  But now I know that in America that purity will soon cease, and a new mixture will rise to be the norm.  I am not surprised that all of my close friends have married another race, showing their openness to not being defined by their color.  I hope to follow in their footsteps soon.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, attended 42nd Street Elementary, Audubon Junior High, Dorsey and Alexander Hamilton High Schools.  I got my first car early when I attended West Los Angeles College during my senior high school year.  I went on to graduate from UCLA with a Psychology Bachelor’s Degree with a minor in Child Psychology, all prepared to become a pediatrician.  I attended Northeastern University School of Medicine in Tampico, Mexico and graduated with a medical degree.  However, during internship, a tragedy occurred with a 12-year patient that changed my world forever and I left medicine for a lot of soul searching.

Soul searching led to me trying out to become a mortgage loans broker, but soon realized that selling loans was not my thing.  Signing up as an accounting agency temp led to many jobs with different companies and to my first real adult job for a bank in the construction loan department where I soon became supervisor.  I advanced to work as a manager for several construction companies in the accounting departments and eventually became an assistant project manager.  Being really interested in construction I began studying for my contractor’s license.  My father was very proud of me when I achieved that in 1991.  Small ‘flip’ projects were really fun, just not glamorous as those shows on HGTV.  I will do larger flips in the future.

Volunteering ruled my life for a long time.  Starting out with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) because I was in construction accounting, I was a 25-year member and held every office on the Board (President, Vice President, Treasure, and Secretary) for the Chapter and also Chapter and Regional Committee Chairman for several committees.  My favorite committee was Membership; I loved recruiting new members.  This involvement led to one with Habitat for Humanity-Los Angeles, when our NAWIC chapter was recruited to participate in the Jimmy Carter Work Project in 1995 to build 21 homes in Watts.  I led a group of NAWIC volunteers who volunteered their time and all of the materials for one house.  Because of my project participation, I was asked to become a Board Member as Secretary for eight years and Chairman for two.  All during this time I was a Crew Volunteer Leader where I had a ball constructing at least 20 homes (outside of the Jimmy Carter Project).  My involvement with NAWIC also led to an involvement with Volunteer Center of Los Angeles (VCLA), where a speaker for one of my NAWIC meetings led to a friendship and an invitation to join the VCLA Board.  Since I was so proficient in being a Secretary (usually typing verbatim during the meetings) it was not difficult to hold that office for several years and eventually Chairman until the Center was purchased by another organization.

In my heydays, I was an avid skier.  Bouncing off of small to medium cliffs were no big thing to me and being a member of the UCLA Ski Club, I often skied in Lake Tahoe and numerous Colorado ski resorts for weeks at a time.  Being short really helped my skiing, because any falls I had were short and easy ones.  Then as I grew older and all my skiing friends married and had kids, I turned to dancing.  Although I was a dancer since I was five and never lost the beat.  I now keep listening to the Top 40 Hits and any other Oldies Music, continuing to dance whenever I can.

My favorite activity has always been crafts.  My wonderful mother taught me how to sew and knit when I was ten.  I have been sewing, knitting and crocheting since then doing hundreds of clothing for me and others, including two wedding parties’ dresses and other bridal dresses.  Through the years, I have added on scrapbooking, card-making and needlepoint.  I am always doing some sort of project.  Can’t stand waiting for appointments without something to do.

My First Blog Post

If YOU CAN dream it, YOU CAN do it.

Walt Disney

Hi!  Welcome to Melanie’s Pandamonium!!  This is the first posting on my new Lifestyle blog where I will be talking about my lifestyle, adventures and topics of interest. I’m just getting this new blog going, so I hope you will stay tuned for more. Please subscribe below to get notified when I post new articles.