Sunday, July 29, 2007

Moving Under Control

Today I started to clean in preparation for the handover of the shoebox next week. The shower area has not been washed in errr... a while. So I figured I had better start doing that as I may have to do that area a couple of times before I get that to a decent state. So I took out the Jif and started scouring.

The packing doesn't seem so scary even though I haven't done that much that early. I have it mentally mapped out, so I am not that worried. I did pack another bagful of clothes which I know I cannot wear within the next 7 days. So they can safely go into the bag. I'll be getting the keys on Tuesday evening, and the next few days after, I'll start bringing little things over on my way to work as that is on the way.

Things are pretty much under control.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Week Three

The magic threshold of week 3 has arrived. This is the legacy of the past, of paranoia and of illogic. But come it still did. Week 3 did. However, unlike the past, week 3 did not bring with it the dark clouds and the storm.

Today which marked week 3 was sunshiney with blue skies. It was a day filled with good memories of food, enjoyed in the company of friends, a beach walk feeling the heat on our bodies, discarding our coats. It was a day of discovering new commonalities (thin pancakes with lemon juice and sugar), interests (checking out great classical and new furniture designs) and plans for the future (trip to the Hunter Valley, more restaurants and cafes to try out).

Today, Tomorrow.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Eat Dessert First

Saturday night dinner was a feast of Thai and quasi-Thai dishes that TG's wife, PG whipped up from her cook books. This was the long-awaited invitation to their house, from the time it was a cottage to now when in the place of the cottage, a spanking-new, big, double-storey house now stands.

I was invited for dinner and to spend the night as it was out in the suburbs and some way out to travel.

PG made an entree of minced meat patties with sweet chilli sauce. Then the mains came, there was a seafood pad thai but I think it was more of a fried beehoon really. The thai red beef curry was excellent, a little spicy and the beef was just so tender even though PG said she just bought a cheap cut of blade steak. The curry chicken was Penang style, rich in coconut and had a tinge of peanut-satay sauce sort of taste to it, I loved that and she made sure she packed some home for me the next day. There was a vegetable stir-fry for our token veggies intake and basmati rice.

Dessert was made by O and she made this delicious tart filled with a caramelised condensed milk filling which both PG and I thought would be pretty easy to replicate for the next dinner party. The little chocolate cases she painstakingly painted layer upon layer and filled with a mascarpone tinged with liquer and topped off with a cut strawberry, were just too pretty to eat. But eat we did, we devoured them in a single bite. Yummy.

What a great way to spend a Saturday night with good food and great company.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday Museday

Another long night - left work at 8 pm but have to dial into a conference call at 11.15 pm. Last night, I left work at 7.30 pm. So tomorrow I have vowed to go in late and leave at 5 pm on the dot. I am so tired and the whole work in Sydney thing was to enjoy the Ozzie life style and work ethics since I have to pay the outrageous taxes. But it seems as what T commented today, "5 minutes into your full-time work, they make you work these hours". How true it seems. Well hopefully this will not last too long.

And oh- I found a new apartment! It is probably twice the size of the current shoebox, with a separate sleeping platform and a nice galley kitchen in the living area which has wooden floorboards. I am looking forward to having a proper apartment even though it will be still quite small. But at least it will be decent enough to have friends over! I can't wait...

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

More Changes

How things change, in a twinkling of an eye. Yes, I've said this before, about just about every aspect of my life in the last 6 months. And again it happened.

The trip to Taipei and HK this Sunday was cancelled out of the blue on Thursday afternoon, with a phone call from HQ. "I need you to lead this urgent project, and it's more important than the trip, can it be postponed or can someone else go in your stead?" Erm, what do you tell the boss? Yes, of course it can all be arranged and I will lead this project with ridiculously unrealistic turnaround times, no worries! And oh, there is the $385 cancellation charge on my airticket but I guess that is the least of our problems.

And so, I worked till 9 pm that Thursday and 7.30 pm on Friday night when all decent Ozzies are out getting plastered with their mates.

But I am not complaining. No, really. The change of pace is refreshing. The new scope is interesting. Staying put and not being on the road is good when my body could really do with some good, protracted and long-deprived rest. Having some quality time in Sydney is good for my social life. So every cloud has a silver lining. I see the sun shining through...

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Something Good This Way Comes?

A couple of drinks (including a G&T, I think I am getting the hang of this, haven't had an adverse reaction since I started drinking G&T), a yummy Parmagiana thin-crust pizza and a rocket salad. A chilly rainy night, with the rains stopping appropriately as we left the restaurant. Great conversation, interesting nuggets of information, potential for something good to come out of this.

Fingers crossed.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Mark Foy Warehouse Loft

My heart is set on getting a NY-style one-bedroom loft now. Today I saw the one I want. But then again, at least five other people also want it. And I don't feel very hopeful that I would trump the other applicants.

This one was in the Mark Foy warehouse building, a building I had been smitten with since I saw it. I love how they convert these old warehouses into apartments in Sydney, giving them a new lease of life. There were two artichoke ceiling lights in the lobby, a nice touch. But it is the old brick-faced building with the huge Mark Foy lettering emblazoned in different coloured bricks at the top of the building, that I am enchanted with.

My fingers crossed, the decision will be out tomorrow afternoon.

Ed: Result's out. I didn't get it :-( The successful tenant offered $5 more per week (only!) with 3 months' rent paid in advance on a 12 month lease. Ah well, everything happens for a reason, I've another inspection of another loft this coming Saturday, maybe I'm meant to get this one. I'll play the same (successful tenant) tactic and offer up rent in advance, if need to!


Saturday, July 07, 2007

How I Made My Fracture Worse - Or How I Spent A Fruitful Saturday

It's a beautiful Saturday with blue skies. I started my day at 9.30 am, raring to go. But now I'm convinced I've made the hairline fracture on my left foot worse. Well first of all, I'm convinced I've got a hairline fracture on my left foot. And the 5 hours of walking around, inspecting 4 apartments and wandering around the Surry Hills Markets in between, did me in. I can actively feel the fault line running down the outer length of my foot, throbbing even as there is no weight on it now. The good news is that I don't see any swelling, I just need to rest I think.

Ok the apartments. I was tempted, sorely tempted by one. It was a furnished (albeit with mostly crappy stuff which needs to be improved upon cosmetically by the tenant) one-bedroom apartment, 5 minutes' walk to the office. In fact the coffee shop that C and I go to is right at the front of this building. There is a sun room with a day bed in there, which can double up as a guest room. The living room is big, with a separate laundry from the bathroom and a decent kitchen. But it is $90 per week above my budget. For the extra $360 per month, I convince myself that it's not that much to pay for lots more space, furniture, white goods. But I guess if I'm going to increase my budget, I should look around a bit more as the choices will definitely open up.

I dropped my scarf (which I thought was securely knotted to my handbag) on my way to view this apartment. The new (more) laid-back me told the agent I was walking to the apartment with, that it's ok, I'll retrace my steps after the viewing and it should be along the way. No one will take it. That's how much faith I have. True enough, I saw it languishing on the road, I waited for an opportune opening in the traffic before I rescued it. My faith in mankind has not been misplaced.

In between inspections, I stopped for lunch at Kava, a usually crowded cafe along the cafe stretch. Today I was enticed by the sign touting "Bill's homemade chicken pie" so I had the pie and a pot of ginger lemon and honey tea . The tea turned out to be fresh ginger slices and lemon in hot water. There is not a speck of tea leaves to be seen in the pot. I queried, and was told yes, that's it. How can that be called "tea" is beyond me, it's absolutely misleading. I think I'm striking Kava off my list, despite a rave write up in the Surry Hills cafes website I consult religiously.

I exercised my usual self-restraint at the markets today and didn't buy a pair of nesting tables (mid-century Australian, 2 choices, a lighter coloured pair for ONLY $10 - how could I have resisted, I don't know, and another darker coloured pair for $50), a coffee table and a solid wooden stool. There are just so many lovely furniture, glassware, and other household things like lamps, cases and all sorts of bric-a-bracs that I want so badly. It's the shoebox that is holding me back. I need to move out so that I can finally indulge myself in these treasures. I did buy a lovely handmade journal covered in an exotic Indian fabric and there are leaves and flowers pressed into the paper. It might end up as a pressie for one of my friends or I might use it as a scrap book, I haven't quite decided yet. I am waiting for memories which will be more suitably captured in a physical book rather than in a blog.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

I Want Out Of The Shoebox

I'm back to apartment hunting. Last Saturday I only viewed one apartment. Today I nipped off work for 40 minutes to look at a "NY loft-style" apartment. The living space with kitchenette was probably the size of my shoebox but the upper sleeping loft with bathroom was three-quarter the size of the downstairs. The upside was its central location just opposite the central railway station. The downside was it's opposite the central railway station, with the tooting of the trains, buses roaring down that street (my 15 minutes of waiting confirmed all the traffic noises). The good thing is that this unit faces the back and not the station, but the bad thing is that it looks right smack into an old brick building, and I mean right smack. Like you could see the old guy in the other building picking his nose, if there were some old guy there picking his nose. The old building was eerily empty, but it's possibly in the midst of a refurbishment or potential demolition. The agent had no clue, neither did he have any application forms on him, in fact he told me I had to trek all the way to his agency in Randwick just to pick up a form. Well boo - that's really dumb and I'm not blown away enough to do that for this unit.

So I keep looking. I have three units lined up for inspection tomorrow. I did have one realisation though - units painted a cheery yellow look very welcoming and fresh. They never fail to attract me with their photos to have a closer look. I think this colour therapy is really important, if only more landlords were more adventurous than painting everything white or beige. I think a light yellow is a safe compromise. But maybe that's just me, and to some tenants, that could be as bad as fuschia pink or funky purple?


Thursday, July 05, 2007


As I drink my second cup of tea after dinner, and relax a little, I feel a sense of vindication. The same emotion that I had felt last night just before my head hit the pillow when I realise that some things and some people are just so predictable. Their pattern of behaviour does not disappoint (in a warped way).

When I realised that things were happening the way I had expected them to, I knew that it was time for me to move on. I had moved on a couple of months ago, but I had the last stirrings of nostalgia and remembrance over the last few weeks. That had confused and bothered me. But now, I know that I can put all that to bed. Out of my system now. Completely.

I take another sip of my tea.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

While I Can Still Afford Her

Tay Lay Leng, 6 Degrees Below The Horizon

I am betting on this friend to make it (or somewhat make it, considering how hard it is to make it in the arts in Singapore) in the arts scene. When I first met her several years ago in a community club watercolour class, she painted somewhat realistic landscapes. She had a pleasant style then, very pretty, very soothing, a little impressionistic.

Tay Lay Leng, Turn

But nothing that would grab anyone's attention, nothing commanding, she had to break free and let go before her works could become something special. However, what she had was potential. And a humility to learn, talk to people to exchange ideas, go to exhibitions to see what good and conversely, bad art is.

Tay Lay Leng, Reflections I

And now, some years on, and a few years in art school, she has developed and evolved and now her works grab you. I told her, half in jest, that I need to buy a couple of her works, before she becomes famous, when they are still affordable.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Sweet In Savoury

Inspired by the sweet traces of blueberries in the lamb harissa (Wiki: Harissa is a Tunisian hot red sauce or paste made from chilli peppers (often smoked) and garlic, often with coriander, cumin, caraway, and/or olive oil. It may also contain tomoatoes. It somewhat resembles sambal and chilli sauce) and almond sausage roll from the Bourke Street Bakery which I had last Saturday, I decided to try my hand in introducing a bit of sweetness into traditionally savoury dishes.

With the minced pork I have in my freezer, I decided to make a hamburger for lunch tomorrow. I marinated the meat with the regular condiments of salt, pepper, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil. The additional special ingredient was the Korean citrus honey I have in the pantry. This is actually a citrus tea drink, but is really more of a orange honey. I spooned a tablespoonful into the meat and stir it through, added some cornstarch to bind the meat and shaped it into a thick patty and fried it in some oil in a non-stick pan.

This will go on buttered soy and linseed bread and the bell pepper cheddar I bought from the Tumba festival over Easter. I had a taste of the cheddar at dinner tonight, it was delicious. I am eating the last memories I have of the Narooma camping trip. Maybe when I have finished devouring the last of the cheddar, I would have also gotten the memories of it out of my system?

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Friends & Food

Another yummy Persian meal cooked by F. This one seems really simple. Simmer chicken and sliced carrots in a pot with a little bit of water. To make the sauce, grate half an onion and cook with some tomato paste. Add the water from the chicken and carrots to the sauce and stir well till boiling. Season with salt. Then add the sauce into the chicken and simmer a little more. So simple and so delicious with basmati rice. I overate as usual, as with everytime I go over to her house.

Then F gets it into her head to do me a makeover. Ok at least she confined herself to a makeover of my eyes. She should have been a beautician. She plucked my eyebrows to neaten them a little. I constantly warn her that I do not want to be over-plucked. The high-arched look is just so not in. She agreed to be restrained and worked her magic with various tools. I still don't like the sticky feel of mascara. I told her I looked like a Japanese Cleopatra when she was done. And I protested when she drew my lips with a liner, outside of my lips to make me even more bee-stung. Uggghh... I love F and her wonderful meals she cooks for me, but NO, I draw the line somewhere and that line is HERE.
The overhead wires and cables along the train lines make a strong silhouette against the pretty sunset as I waited for the bus. There is trackwork again and the hike to F's house took me 1.5 hours each way - bus, train, bus, foot. But the lovely day out made it worth the while - friends and food can never go wrong!

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Clothes maketh a man. So said Polonius ever so wisely. I think it's the shoes that really speak volumes really. I'm no shoe whore - ok 9 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of boots and 3 pairs of thongs/birkies, probably qualifies me as somewhat of a mini shoe whore. Just somewhat. But back to my point.

I look at a man's feet and how he is shod and make my evaluation. Canvas sneakers, street-style usually marks a man as trendy and hip. Loafers with a metallic buckle means he's a business type who's somewhat made it or wants to make it in the corporate world. Leather shoes with a square toe indicates a professional type who still wants to retain his individuality and be a little different (my fave). Slip-on black shoes which are kinda cuffed is usually the choice for junior level staff, who really can't care too much about their dressing or have enough self-awareness to know that what they wear won't really make much of a difference to their careers.

So what do your shoes say about you?