Friday, March 21, 2014

Quick and Simple Home Improvements

I can think of various cheap and simple ways to enhance a room:-
1. Bunch of flowers from the supermarket
2. New cushion covers
3. Aromatherapy oils or fragrance sticks
4. Framed postcards or pretty calendar pages
5. A cheerful throw blanket over an old sofa

My favourite is to grab a bunch of flowers from the supermarket and arrange them in my collection of vintage pots and vases. I rotate the vessels and see what catches my fancy and what goes best with the type of flowers and colours.

Flowers from the supermarket: $3
Lifting mood of the house and the owner: priceless.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Habitual Baking

When we were living in Sydney, I used to make this orange cake quite often. It was such an easy recipe and I am a lazy baker. Or maybe call me a creature of habit, that's probably a fairer description. I bake what I am used to and rarely try new stuff. Once something new gets on my list, I just repeat it over and over again.

But somehow I stopped making this orange cake once we moved back to Singapore. I think it was out of necessity that I started baking bread and then the whole creature of habit thing took over and I almost exclusively made bread, interspersed with rock buns, another old-time favourite. Occasionally, I would make a quiche for lunch or dinner. And that was it. Oh except for that couple of times I tried my hand at making hot cross buns.

Anyway I decided to revisit this old friend last weekend. But instead of making the cake in a loaf tin which was how I used to make it in Sydney, I used little cupcake moulds. They cook faster this way and were easier for handing out in the office.
I made myself a nice cup of Earl Grey and had one for dessert right after dinner.

They were well-received in the office today. I think I will reinstate this recipe to the "Frequently Baked" list once more.

It's funny how much our personality traits are deeply embedded in different aspects of our life.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

What I Buy When I Travel

I have a long-term love affair with all things fragile and breakable when I travel. There is never one trip where I do not come home lugging back some glassware or china. Why can't I love wood or plastic? That would make life so much easier! 

I love the look of mismatched china, I love drinking out of tea cups and saucers, particularly vintage ones, I love laying out my sweets and savouries on cake platters and stands. And I like eating and drinking tea a lot. I love taking afternoon tea. I love having tea parties at my house. I guess that explains a lot!

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Me and My Tiffins

I generally don't like having too many takeaway containers in the house. Sure they are convenient to have around when you need to put some leftovers in the fridge or bring some extra food to the office. But seriously, how many does one need (even factoring in spares for emergencies)? We don't need to generate more waste. Plus those takeaway containers aren't constructed for multiple use and are apparently cancer causing as they emit some carcinogenic chemical when they are overused.

Hence, I try to remember to bring my own containers when I go to the nearby hawker centre to buy takeaways. Instead of the retro tiffins of multi-tiers like the 2 I have above, I use a single tier one (since I usually buy a one-dish meal like noodles or porridge) which is made of stainless steel and insulated to keep the food warm.

Call it what you may - being green, trying to reduce our chances of cancer, or just not wanting to hoard more useless stuff, I think it is an easy thing to do.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Great Scott!

We saw this "Tartan Cube" artwork by Grace Tan, a Singaporean artist, hanging in MacAlister Mansion, a boutique hotel in Georgetown, Penang. The works were specially created and commissioned by the hotel. We thought it was pretty cool.

On the topic of artworks, we sent our Aboriginal dot painting, bought from the Top End of Oz, to the framers about 3 weeks back and are finally getting round to collect it. It's been ready for a week but we were too busy to go last week (yes, we are social butterflies and our weekend calendar was full). Looking forward to seeing how it looks framed tomorrow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Romantic Property Dream

Property is a class of assets and investments which comes with emotional bonds, unlike other types of investments say stocks and shares. Technically speaking, one should be sterile and clinical about evaluating their investment decisions including property. But for some reason, perhaps because every man or woman wants to own their own home, this becomes an emotional issue, even if the property is not going to be the investor's "home".
Nostalgia and romance played a big part in our property hunt in Penang. My grandmother had a old Peranakan shophouse in Georgetown and I spent many school holidays there till I was about 15. That was the house my mother grew up in. Over the years, the dirt, grime, peeling plaster, rusty metal have all taken on a rosy hue. Add to it, beautifully reconstructed examples, both outside and on the inside, of such houses which would necessitate a long-time of indentured servitude to pay off the mortgage, have been all the rage in Singapore for the last many years, pushing many Singaporeans to look outside Singapore. For the ones with foresight and speed, they had snapped up these old derelicts when everyone was pooh-poohing them in Georgetown, many have been renovated and rented out for use as restaurants and retail shops, others with more passion and creativity, have turned them into boutique hotels and pioneered that in Georgetown. When Georgetown was awarded the UNESCO status in 2008, this pushed the prices of these charming shophouses skywards. However because the supply is much greater than in Singapore, there are still many rundown, derelict houses one could purchase for much less than back in Singapore. And then spend some money to do it up and still be ahead. However the Malaysian government has identified this as a risk/money-making opportunity and has mandated a minimum price threshold of RM2 million for these landed property should a foreigner wish to purchase. Hence effectively blocking the cheaper shophouses from the clutches of this group of buyers.

Romantic notions of turning one of these charming properties into a modern boutique hotel or a Bed & Breakfast complete with cafe is another attraction for buying a shophouse. People are bored of the franchised chain hotels and are looking for unique travel experiences. Corporate rats looking for an out, oscillate naturally towards these choices, they think they can put their corporate skills into running a successful concern where they can meet different people, shoot the breeze, talk about life, drink some coffee and be their own boss. Making big bucks isn't the top of the agenda here, just making sure the business is self-funding is good, making a small profit is a bonus.

And so we looked, we dreamt, we looked. We are still dreaming, we are still looking.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Today I learnt what "bostock" is. It is a yummilicious almond toast, so simple but yet tastes so good. It seems like a total misnomer as it sounds like some sort of Bovril stock to me. But anyway, misnomer or not, it is delicious.

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