Monday, November 26, 2007


I am a published photographer. In an interiors/furniture/design NY website. Woohoo!

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Monday, November 19, 2007


Spring heralds in new beginnings. We are really well into Spring now but there are still new beginnings to be shooed in.

Today, I finally received the letter making my job permanent. This has been verbally promised a couple of months ago, but really, one shouldn't completely believe anything as things can change, people can leave/die/resign etc, until one sees it in writing. After some intermittent follow up on my part, while waiting patiently for the cogs in this great corporate organisation to slowly turn, the letter finally arrives.

There. It. Is. Effective date - 29 August 2007.

And with it brings a sense of permanence not just in the job, but in the entire "being". I can start to look for real furniture, a less transient home, a more permanent life.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Operation Baking (Up A) Storm

I finally unleashed my inner baking goddess this afternoon, after having planned and prepped for so long.

The ingredients were bought ages ago, the raisins slowly inching towards their expiry date, the 2 stainless steel cookie cutters purchased by chance when I was browsing the shelves in Daiso in Singapore and couldn't resist "proper" cutters vs plastic ones, the rolling pin was bought for the pizza making earlier and the retro kitchen scale from the car boot sale in Brighton sitting there, all handy - no more excuses blaming the online conversion websites when the results don't turn out the way they should. And so I baked.

I really wanted to dry-run a batch of cut cookies for my Christmas baking this year as I think cut-out shapes are much prettier although my rock buns still pretty much rock (pun completely intended). I think I need to reduce the amount of sugar and practise my cookie-cutting skills - a developmental opportunity (as we would say in the corporate world). The different ideas to try out for a range of variety are swimming around in my mind. So many to attempt, so little time. While I had the oven going, I also whipped up these caramel lava cakes (from a mix). They are pretty good. I'm sure they must contain at least 1200 calories each.

On a self-comforting note, I have gone (almost) vegetarian this weekend with the veggies/lentil soup for Saturday's lunch and dinner tonight, and mushroom risotto for lunch today. The veg only code was somewhat broken as I threw in some leftover shredded roast chicken into the risotto, but apart from that, I think I've been quite good this weekend and can do without the guilt (at times like these, I think I am a closet Catholic).

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Steamrolling Saturday

My last thought before I fell into a long slumber last night, was that of the beautiful lamb, almond and harissa sausage roll at Bourke Street Bakery. So this morning when I finally rolled out of bed at 10.15 am, I made my way down Crown Street to satisfy this craving.

Crown Street being what it is, held lots of distractions for me. A 20-minute walk became 40 minutes as I was seduced into various clothing and interior decor shops. The shops on Crown Streets are all unique and full of character, and make for much more interesting shopping than going to the mall. I bought a black dress with a vintage-looking lace neck line and bodice from one of my favourite shops. I would have to part with this pretty purchase as it is a Christmas pressie for a dear friend. I just hope it fits well, as buying clothes for other people is always a hit and miss affair.

Further down the road, I couldn't resist a quick stop at Salvos to check out their glass and ceramics section as I usually do in all the opp shops. This particular one, is always light in that section, but usually has new hair clips, note cards and other knick knacks. Today I find a Murakami book, "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle". I've been meaning to read Murakami after hearing two of my close friends rave about his books. And since these are my more intellectual friends, I have filed his name in the back of my mind, waiting for the opportunity to get hold of one of his books. For $3 instead of the usual $20 plus at Kinokuniya, the opportunity presented itself today. And as a bonus, there was a big box of a variety of greeting cards outside Salvos, free to anyone who wants them. I took a couple of packs.

I finally made it to the bakery close to noon and had my sausage roll and soy flat white, perched on a stool on the pavement outside the bakery, reading my book and enjoying the cool breeze. At least the sausage roll is one of the few things which in reality, is still as good as memory. I was reluctant to leave my perch after finishing my yummy meal, and carried on reading for a fair bit before I decided I should get a move on as the agenda for the day was packed.

I picked up some veggies for my lentil and vegetable soup dinner. The lentils had been soaking overnight and I want to try making lentil soup as it seems to be a big thing here.

On the walk back, I debated whether to buy a $100 soup bowl or $160 salad bowl at a ceramics/textile gallery cum interiors shop. I've been eyeing these bowls every time I walk pass the gallery in the evenings when it was closed. The white porcelain is glazed with a slip on the interior, and scratched on the exterior, creating random, abstract-looking markings. I really like the salad bowl-sized one better but resisted parting with $160 since there usually are good finds at markets and opp shops, for a fraction of the price. But I might go back again... when I find/ create/ justify an excuse to treat myself to a $160 bowl.

And I finally got down to my art and crafts. I made three items in the afternoon. The prototype I made is will be kept for me, and the other two will go to friends for Christmas. Hopefully I'll be able to make a couple more tomorrow.

The baking plans are held over to Sunday as I'm too spent from all the activities today.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Prelude To The Weekend

I've been itching to put my creative skills to good use for a long time.

With G far, far away in HK this weekend, I've been researching craft patterns online, comparing them to the ones I've seen in stores in Brighton and markets in Sydney. My vintage buttons which I picked up at the markets some weeks back, have been languishing in their packet. I have great plans for them. Which shall be brought to fruition this weekend.

Ditto my trial baking for Christmas. This year, I have decided to make cut cookies and bought a heart-shaped cutter and a star-shaped cutter. I think they will look very festive. Researching recipes online with such a great variety of pretty cookies, yielded too many dazzling choices. Do I want matcha cookies? Or orange & choc cookies? Would my friends/recipients like spiced cookies or would they prefer something simple like sugar cookies?

Ultimately I think I might just raid my pantry and see what's in it and bake accordingly! Problem solved.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Marbled Treasure

Ever since I set eyes on LP's treasure from the local car boot sale in Brighton, UK, which she paid a princely sum of 1 sterling pound, a beauty with a solid wooden base and a glass dome lid, I have been keeping a lookout for something similar.

I wasn't disappointed. The Vinnie's shops never fail to throw up lots of lovely treasures in every visit. I have found so many things that I want and have my heart set on. As I keep telling G, it's not a matter of need, it's a matter of want when it comes to these things. If it's out of need, a takeaway box or even a plastic bag would do. But because it's out of want, I just want this bread/cake display dish, with the pretty marble base, even if the dome lid was unfortunately not made of glass (which would have made it perfect) but plastic. Well, you can't have it all, can you? Especially if it's just for A$3.

I can't wait to find my next treasure.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Sunday was another day of good food and family (G's not mine). It was his brother's birthday and the coconut and mandarin cake was adorned with a pirate's hat, a treasure chest, a skull with an eye-patch, a parrot, a knife and a sailing ship. They were novelty candles as G's brother, X, has a thing for pirates. They were cute but I want the sparkler-candles for my birthday cake when the time comes (relevant readers, please take note).

Dinner was at Mino, where there are 2 offerings of mini-kaiseki of 5 courses each. Although technically 5 courses, the yummy entrees consisted for 4 items, and the dessert consisted of 2 items plus little fruit pieces. So it was quite a spread of little portions, aesthetically presented as expected in a Japanese restaurant on Japanese-style ceramics, I especially like the cups they served the beer in, as they were actually more like tea cups than beer glasses.

My favourite was the entrees, I traded the prawn spring roll (seen on the left, cut in half) for G's duck wrapped in asparagus tempura. I think I got the better end of the deal.

The only disappointment was the main course. Perhaps it was the choice I had made - the Japanese-style beef steak in sesame sauce. The beef had a smell, not unlike the smell I often complain about pork purchased from non-Asian butchers. It is rather inexplicable, but to Asian noses, it's just this SMELL which is rather offensive and mars the entire eating experience. The paranoia of the "smell" is enough to make me very wary about eating pork in Sydney. Strangely enough, at Don Don, the other Japanese restaurant we like to patronise which is chock-a-block with customers, just across the road from my flat, I also had a pork katsu-don some months ago, with the offensive smell. I think I would have definitely fared better at Mino if I had stuck to eel or salmon.

The dessert redeemed the main course for me. It consisted of matcha ice-cream, one of my favourite flavours, except it wasn't quite bitter enough, which would have been perfect, a few small morsels of fruit and 2 little pieces of coffee-flavoured chocolate, coated in a powder, which might have been finely-ground sesame or peanut. It was a good end to a lovely dinner.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Nostalgia Food

There is the cafe culture and then there is the kopitiam (literally coffee shop) culture in Singapore. Falling into the cafe category would be all the "western" coffee chains which in my now enlightened opinion (after living in Sydney for almost 2 years) serve overpriced coffee which tastes more like a weak-bodied, coffee-flavoured dishwater (ok so technically I've never tasted dishwater, but you get the idea). In the kopitiam category would be all the "non-western" coffee chains which had suddenly enjoyed a revival of traditional, "local" coffee served in cool air-condition comfort, in a nostalgic ambience. The fact that they have evolved into "chains" testifies to their success in the revival.

I go to the kopitiams and I always order a teh-c, never a kopi. I had no idea why they called it a teh-c until I read one of those nostalgic menus with some story about grandpa from Hainan island, China crossing the Nanyang seas to Singapore and setting up a coffee shop and using Carnation evaporated milk in the tea. Hence, teh-c (for Carnation milk). It all makes sense. I guess I am a creature of habit and I have a fixed set of habits for a fixed venue. Kopitiams mean teh-c to me. Cafes mean latte (now soy latte since I've given up milk). On the weekends, cafes mean a soy flat white. That's how it is, don't ask me to explain.

Accompanying the teh-c, is of course the de rigueur kaya toast. Kaya is the local version of an egg/coconut/brown sugar custard jam that you spread on bread. Extremely sweet and yummy. Needless to say, it is a hazard to health in large (in not so large quantities, I guess it is a mere hazard to the waistline) quantities. But then again, who was the wise person who had succinctly summarised that "everything that I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening." ? (a quick Google search throws up Alexander Woollcott as the author) Anyway, I couldn't resist a photo of that sharp, pointy mountain of butter on the counter with the jars of kaya. It's kinda res ipsa loquitur (for the non-lawyers, it means "the thing speaks for itself" in Latin).

On a slightly less decadent note, these are one of my favourite, childhood snack which has also made a comeback in the past not-so-few years. Kueh Tutu - rice flour cake with a sweet filling of dessicated coconut in brown sugar.

It is so true that everything I like is fattening. (My profound knowledge of the law and the fear of being caught and the consequences following, prevent me from delving into the illegal realm... and I haven't worked out the immoral bit yet.)

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sculptures By The Sea 2007

It was a suddenly sunny day today. Started off in the morning grey with an almost certainty of rain, the rays of sun just shone through around lunch time. Blue skies and sunshine - it was the perfect day to on the coastal walk from Bondi beach to Tamarama and see the Sculptures by the Sea. There were some works which seemed like a repetition of last year's. But I like the 3 bronze figures balanced on each other, the fat, copious bodies remind me of Botero's works. It's very whimsical.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mama Mia - Pizza Making

The weekend of the Rugby World Cup finals, I was in St Albans with my cousin, S and her husband, D. She was absolutely mortified to hear the words, "But we ARE going to be watching the Rugby World Cup final tomorrow night and the Argentina vs South Africa match tonight, aren't we?" come out of my mouth. She thought that an alien had taken over and I was obviously an imposter standing in her kitchen. D, on the other hand, was plain gleeful that he had found an unexpected supporter for his cause. So because of the finals, we decided we were going to come home early on Saturday after our jaunt in the countryside, make pizza for dinner and watch the game in the comfort of their home, in front of their plasma big screen TV, instead of jostling with loads of England supporters at a pub (and with me rooting for South Africa in the finals, being in an English pub with a hundred or so enthusiastic (and probably tipsy) English rugby fans would not have been a smart move - as it was, D had threatened me with eviction to the garden for the night when he realised which team I was supporting in the finals)

Well, the crux of this post is not really about the rugby, which seemed to be the main highlight so far, but rather, the pizza-making. I had loads of fun reliving my pizza-making days (last encounter was in my early 20s to feed my younger sisters, who enjoyed eating my half-cooked dough base actually). S's easy-breezy pizza-making efforts inspired me to replicate the pizza-making when I got back to Sydney.

So the first weekend I got back, G and I decided to make a tri-funghi pizza. G had a special ingredient for the base which really added a nice texture and taste to what would have been a regular-tasting base. We used shitake, cap and enoki mushrooms on a pesto base and generously threw fresh coriander over the top. Result - a rustic-looking (G rolled out the base), yummy-tasting, home-made pizza. We rated our efforts "definitely superior to Love Supreme, better than Dimitri's, and maybe just below Pizza et Birra."

This weekend, fuelled by our success of the week before and the leftover frozen dough we had in the freezer, we tried our hand at another pizza - this time we used shitake mushrooms, zucchini and roma tomatoes on a tomato base. We floured the kneading board with wholemeal flour as we ran out of plain flour and that gave the dough a slightly mealy texture. That was a happy accident which will be filed away for future references.

With our successful pizza-making experiences so far, we shall persevere and experiment more creatively and beat the standard of Pizza et Birra!

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