Workshop Highlights: A Spring Bridal Shower for Ting

Earlier this spring, I received an inquiry for a bridal shower calligraphy workshop - and I couldn't have been more excited! I love that the bride chose to celebrate her nearest and dearest girlfriends with the gift of creativity!


I created personalized folders for each guest - complete with a watercolor name card and satin ribbon. Inside each folder contained alphabet exemplars, practice worksheets, blank paper, tracing paper and two blank 5x7 inch cards. Each guest also received a brush pen to use and take home. 


I printed out blank cards with a watercolor floral frame to complement the occasion - some chose to letter messages of good wishes and congrats to the bride. 


The calligraphy class came as a surprise to most of the guests so it was awesome to see how they dove right into learning and creating. Many of the ladies seemed to have a natural talent for calligraphy - we joked that it may have something to do with their profession as dentists! 


Good food, drinks, friends, and calligraphy - I can't think of a better way to celebrate! 


Thank you, Ting for allowing me to be a part of such a special day. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding - may your marriage be filled with much love and blessings!


Looking for a fun way to celebrate with your nearest & dearest? Get in touch to book a private calligraphy workshop! We can customize it to your occasion, theme, budget, etc. - can't wait to hear from you!

Video: Don't Quit Your Daydream - Watercolor Brush Lettering

For most of my life, I had an irrational fear/aversion towards watercolors, painting, and art in general. Going to art class was pure torture for me. My mind would always go blank when it was time to draw, sculpt, paint, or whatever project that involved creating something tangible.

Words, on the other hand, were my comfort zone. I aced spelling tests, wrote short stories for fun, kept a diary, got in trouble with my mom for reading "too much", and had several pen pals whom I'd send endless pages of nonsense.

If you had told me three years ago, that I'd pick up watercolor brush calligraphy at the age of 36, without having picked up a paint brush in over two decades, I would have looked at you funny. But these mesmerizing lettering videos just kept popping up on Instagram and I just had to try it for myself.

Watercolor brush lettering | Video at 8x speed | Music: "Sunrise" by Nicolai Heidlas 

I was living in Taiwan at that time, and had spent the stifling, hot summer lettering away in the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment. After three months of daily practice, I was still struggling with the brush pen and decided it was time for something new. I got my hands on a couple of generic waterbrushes and a cheap watercolor pan. Turns out, lettering with a paint brush came more naturally to me than a brush pen (what!?) - the soft bristles were much more flexible and I found it easier to achieve the thick and thin strokes. The watercolors glided over the paper so effortlessly - I didn't understand why I had wasted so much time trying those markers everyone else was fawning over!

I eventually got the hang of brush pens, obviously - but, I carved my own path to get here.

So, if you're just starting out with brush calligraphy, I want to encourage you to try new things. Things that might make you uncomfortable. Don't quit just because you can't get that one thing to work. Experiment, play, create something - even if it sucks. 

How To Make Matcha Chocolate Chips

If you're a matcha lover like I am, you'll want to make these matcha (white) chocolate chips and toss them into all kinds of baked goods - that's if you have enough left over after nibbling on them...

Matcha (white) chocolate chips - an easy way for matcha-lovin' bakers to get their matcha fix in their favorite cookie recipe!

I found out the other day that my old food/baking blog domain had been bought/hijacked by a random Japanese real estate company (I think?). Granted, I gave up the domain a little while back, it was still a bit unnerving to see it being used. Why would they use "Sweets by Sillianah" to promote their business? It's completely unrelated to sweets. And "sillianah" was a nickname that meant something only to me (so I thought).

While I'm not mad, I am a bit bummed...but honestly, it's left me scratching my head and pushing me to re-blog some of my favorite recipes as all of the posts are now defunct. It's something I've been wanting to do - and started to, with my Matcha Mochi Cake recipe.

So, I'm back with another matcha recipe - it may just become a thing. I've learned a lot about the different grades and quality of matcha since I last shared. I had been using an average (i.e. cheap) culinary grade matcha - while it was from Japan, it was a bit lackluster in flavor and hue. I was envious of the food bloggers with bright green baked goods - how did they do it?

I recently tried a freshly stone-ground matcha straight from the grinder and wow, it was the smoothest, most creamiest cup of matcha I've ever tasted. No dairy needed! The price of the matcha nearly burned a hole in my wallet but I have to say, you really get what you pay for. It was worth it to taste and learn about the differences in matcha quality. Matcha that is freshly ground, and higher in grade; tends to be brighter, more vibrant in color. Hence, my muddy-green "matcha" baked goods of the past.

For these matcha chocolate chips, I sacrificed a bit of that holy matcha powder for the sake of recipe-testing. But in general, it's more economical to use a quality culinary grade (I'm still testing different brands) for baking so the subtle nutty flavors of the ceremonial grade matcha is not lost in the sweet, baked treats.

Do you have a favorite matcha you like to bake with?

Matcha Chocolate Chips
To make Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookiesstir 1 cup matcha chips into your favorite chocolate chip/sugar cookie dough. I used mine to bake these slightly high-maintenance but mind-blowing pan-banging cookies by The Vanilla Bean Blog

Yield: about 2 cups

10 oz. white chocolate chips (I used one Trader Joe's bag)
2 teaspoons matcha powder (more if you want a stronger flavor)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat white chocolate chips over double boiler until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add 2 teaspoons matcha powder. Stir until matcha is fully incorporated and mixture is smooth.

Pour matcha chocolate into prepared sheet, and spread into even layer - about 1/4-inch thick. Tap the baking sheet against counter to smooth out chocolate. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 20-30 minutes. Then use a knife to chop into chunks and use in your favorite cookie recipe.

The "But First, Matcha" mug (+ two more styles) can be found in my  Etsy shop !

The "But First, Matcha" mug (+ two more styles) can be found in my Etsy shop!