Book Review, What gives us our names and The library of unrequited love

What gives us our names, Alvin Pang

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This is a short, lovely book that touches on courage, patience, and beauty, to name a few. It describes them as a person, bringing life to these underrated terms. If I wanted to seek a better and clearer understanding of these words, I’d put away my dictionary and reach for this book instead.

There is a bit of everyone in here, in this gently written book.

Here is an excerpt about courage – “I once asked Courage what he was afraid of. He joked that he lived every day in fear that it would be his last. And then as I turned to go, he whispered to me what he truly feared above all else: that things would remain only as they are.”

You can finish the book in 30 minutes or less, but the mark it leaves on you will last much, much, more than that.

The library of unrequited love, Sophie Divry

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This book is dedicated “To all those men and women who will always find a place for themselves in a library more easily then in society.”

A librarian finds a reader who has been locked up overnight. When she discovers him, she starts on a long rant, from the dewey decimal system to architects. 90 pages of an unbroken paragraph didn’t hold my interest for very long. It did not do much for the image of the librarian either, as it reinforces the bitter, and lonely stereotype.

To sum it up, an angry (perhaps entertaining to some) rant.

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Would you like a Latte with that?

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Where do you like to do your book shopping? Personally, I like Kinokuniya for its’ broad range, stationery, and 20% discount days. I have always managed to find whatever obscure book I coveted there.

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised by a little bookstore called Bookaburra, nestled at Forum the shopping mall. I was looking to steer Joel away from the Geronimo series, and so asked for suggestions. A cheerful and friendly young lady attended to me. Not only did recommend me several titles, but she went on to explain why she enjoyed them. I left the shop happy, with a bag full of books. Nothing beats personalised service.

What makes a successful bookshop? Revenue may not be solely depended on books. As with a certain large chain, we know CDs may not work either. How about selling flowers alongside books? Nothing like the scent of fresh fleurs to permeate your home while you bury yourself in a page turner. Would you like a latte with that? Setting up a coffee kiosk between Proust and Wilde might bring in the morning birds as well. Other ideas include a book or craft club. There are plenty of lifestyle ideas to explore for the small (or even big) bookshop to bring in the crowd.

Bookshops are shrinking away slowly, and this is something I definitely do not want to see. Long time tenant Big Bookshop at Clementi has been taken over by Art Friend. Kinokuniya is moving to a smaller space this October. Books Actually is having a store wide 25% sale till the end of this month – to raise funds to buy their own shop space so they can stop being at the mercy of their landlord. I find solace walking among the aisles of books and watching my kids do the same. The day becomes a little more special when they can each choose a book to buy.

Some of you might say, why buy when you can borrow? True, but you can read them again at your own leisure, and pass them on to your sibling, or a friend. We have started exchanging and sharing books with one of Joel’s classmate, and this has worked out rather well.

Go on, buy a book today.

How to make a Diaper Cake

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What is the best possible gift for a newborn baby? I would say it’s a diaper cake. The diapers will definitely come in handy and the baby’s mother will be pleased that she has a surplus of diapers for awhile!

There is a diaper cake for every budget. If you don’t feel too ambitious, a one tier cake will suffice. You can simply top it off with a pair of shoes, or a soft toy, or add more useful things like a rattle, diaper cream, bib or just about anything baby related you can think off!

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Doesn’t hurt to have an extra pair of hands to help!

2 of my good friends gave birth recently, giving me an opportunity to dive into the world of diaper cakes. Here are the “ingredients” that you need.

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Diapers. I bought a pack of 60, newborn size.
Clothespins
Swaddle cloth, these are optional. If you choose not to use them, you can tie a ribbon around the cake instead.
Soft toy
Shoes
Rattle
Rubber bands, plenty of those small red ones, and 1 wide, large size one.
Cake base

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Take this opportunity to make a diaper pyramid

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Start by rolling all the diapers. Roll tightly from the open end, as it will look neater when completed. Place a rubber band around 3 diapers first, then put the wide rubber band over them, filling the gaps with more diapers. Constantly shape it into a circle as you go along.

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Move on to the next tier if you are doing more than one .I used 33 diapers for the first tier, 18 for the second and 9 for the third.

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Tip: if you are going to use a ribbon instead of a swaddle cloth, arrange the diapers in a way that they are all uniform

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Next, place the swaddle cloth around the cake, and use a clothespin to hold it in place. Other alternatives include safety pins and pin needles, but I feel clothespins are less treacherous.

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Ensure that the clothespins align when stacking up the tiers

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Tack the label to the swaddle cloth

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For a precious little girl

I got the shoes from Mothercare, which came with a nifty hanger. All I had to do was to tack it in place, along with the rattle. Easy peasy! There was a little label at the back of the soft toy, perfect for tacking it down as well. Place the completed cake on the cake base, and you’re done! If you are going to transport the cake over rough terrain, you can insert satay sticks or wooden chopsticks to hold the tiers in place. Also, you can use tulle to wrap the cake if you want a more finished look. Clear plastic will do as well, but I think they should be reserved just for wrapping school books.

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Pleased mummy and her sweet bub

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Diaper cakes are really easier to make than you think. The only difficult part was rolling 60 diapers. It seemed like an immense, intimidating job at first, but graduated to second nature by the 28th diaper. Diaper cakes are definitely my go-to present now for a new mother!