I need air

I am now experiencing what I call the "Pre-holiday Work Crunch". It is during these times that I question my choice of timing to go for a break. But thinking back, I have never really found the perfect time to get away from work.

On another note, I took one of our American partners out last evening for a bout of shopping and food. It is her first time in Singapore, and she doesn't have much free time away from work engagements. She wanted to buy some clothes and homeware.

And oh my, she bought SO MUCH STUFF! It was incredibly fun watching her try on silk jackets after silk jackets, and giving her my 2 cents' worth of opinions. She also bought tons of embroidered table cloths and table runners, and lots of sequinned drapes. I think she spent about $2K in just one night. I was glad I helped her help our economy! hee hee

I wonder if I'll be as productive in Hongkong?

=D

Old Pals

An old schoolmate is back in Singapore after a job posting in Europe. She left Singapore as a newlywed, and is back now with an 18-month baby boy in tow.

We weren't particularly close in school, although we hung out in the same circles. When I realised she just came back however, I dropped her an email and arranged a lunch. Pleasantly, our conversation went beyond simply catching up on each other's lives; we even touched on sharing our views about changing friendships, motherhood, and broad plans for our lives ahead.

It was a comfortable and relaxing lunch - certainly a welcome timeout for the both of us. Funnily, it could have been the longest one-on-one conversation I've ever had with her!

When it was time to leave, she offered to pay for lunch, refusing to allow me to pay my share. She then said that I could pay at our next meal together. I readily agreed, glad at the thought that this could be another friendship renewed, at a very different stage of our lives.

My (unhealthy) Sausage-y Lunch
tellingly, the friend said she won't feed her son these!

Arab Street Colours

I enjoy taking guests for a stroll around Kampong Glam and in particular Arab Street.

It is a great excuse for me to look at the gorgeous fabrics on sale, tuck into Malay cuisine, and take in the art deco architecture and beautiful rich colours.

At a recent outing, the cousin couldn't help herself and bought a whole lot of silk to take home. I too, bought 8 metres of light gold coloured silk which I hope to put up on our ceiling.

The folks at Osman Silk House @ No. 104 Arab Street (which I forgot to photograph), were exceptionally friendly, helpful and not at all pushy. 3 traits that made us decide to do ALL our shopping there that day :)



Rain

The weather has been exceptionally rainy these few days. In fact it has been raining almost the entire weekend, from non-stop drizzles to heavy downpours.

It is worrisome because this could mean really bad weather when we are in Hongkong, especially with Typhoon Nori shutting down the city last Friday. It is after all, typhoon season there (a fact I didn't know till I read up about it last week! shoot me)

While we're keeping tabs on the news however, I'm enjoying the coolness of the air and the inevitable coziness it brings to afternoon naps.

I'm glad for the blockout curtains we bought soon after we moved into our apartment. We started off only with the thin ones you see in the middle of this photo. One night however, when my mum came by, she exclaimed that any passerby could see everything that was happening in our room even with our curtains down =P After putting in an additional curtain rail and hanging up another set of thicker curtains, I can now nap in the afternoons in semi-darkness.

I love the sound of rain beating down on our window-panes, and the distant rumble of thunder.

Shang Palace

Our friends and us love dim sum. I'm looking forward to lots of it when we're in Hong Kong. In Singapore, we each have our favourite places to go, so we often rotate among a few preferred restaurants.

Another yummy affair at Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel. They do exquisite desserts!


Weekly Chef - Lamb Chops

The weekly chef in me is super tired this week :( We're hitting peaks at work and I've not been letting up on social functions as well.

Anyway I just pan-fried a couple of lamb chops. I didn't even need to marinade them because they were leftovers from a potluck BBQ I was at. So much meat was brought home thanks to a very generous friend. I gave the parents a bag of chicken pieces, and I have another bag of beef in the freezer!

I'm really bad at cooking meat like that though. I either over or undercook them. I need lessons!


Breakfast Alone

My very local breakfast:

A mug of Kopi-Siu-Dai (Coffee + Milk with Less Sugar), and a Lor Mai Kai (Glutinous Rice with Chicken) with a dollop of chili sauce

Newspapers optional =)

To Hong Kong we will go!

(Image taken from Lonely Planet)

We're going to Hong Kong next week! It is a super last minute trip because of some changes in friends' schedules, but we are indeed going. I've made changes to my work plans to clear 2 days off for this short trip.

And this may come as a surprise, but I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO HONG KONG! I have gallivanted to many parts of the world, but have never seen this city.

As the ad for Hong Kong tourism goes, it will likely be a shopping and eating trip.

I have about a week to plan our itinerary. Please do send me your recommendations about what we should be doing/seeing!
(I hope there will be no typhoon problems by then)

Singaporeans Unfriendly?

I was at the hawker centre by myself, with a craving for Hainanese Chicken Rice. I got myself a plate, and then a glass of Sugar Cane juice. Seeing an empty seat at a table, I asked the two women sitting there if I could join them. They smiled and said yes.

I couldn't help but hear that they were chatting in Tagalog. I recognised the language because we used to have a Filippino helper when I was a kid. I asked if they were from the Philippines (they excitedly said "Yes") and I then ventured a guess that they were sisters. (I noticed that they seemed really close). Indeed they were siblings.

We continued the conversation through lunch, and I learnt that the younger of the sisters was in Singapore to see her sister who works here as a domestic helper. The older sister has been in Singapore for 10 years, and loves it here. She said currently only needs to help take care of a young child and a cat, and thus had time to take her visiting sister around. We chatted about how it is relatively cheap to dine out in Singapore, unlike in the Philippines where dining out is considered a luxury.

They finished their food sooner than I did, and had to leave to run some errands. As they stood up to say goodbye, the older sister turned to me and said: "It was nice talking to you. You're very friendly." And as I smiled an acknowledgement, she added: "Not many Singaporeans are like you."

I was left mulling over what she said. I must admit that I've often been told that I'm friendly. It is not difficult for me to talk to strangers, especially when it is not in a work setting. I find enjoyment in getting to know people and find conversations with random strangers often quite enlightening. Roboman would say that I'm sometimes just a chatterbox.

Are we really unfriendly as a nation? I know there have been discussions about this before, and found THIS.

Are Singaporeans unfriendly to you?

Beer & Fries

A friend stays in the heart of town, so it is easy for us to pop by near his apartment for a late night beer and fries.

It was a conversation about the Olympics, differing views about the Bush administration, the parallels between American and Malaysian politics (there are surprisingly plenty), and what people spend their money on.

[By the way, I would normally call these chips (coz they were HUGE), but beer and fries kind of sound better together =) ]

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

We finally own a full-length mirror!

It is a rather large one too - more than 2 metres in height and probably about 0.8 metres across. A friend moved to a new apartment and she had this mirror to give away, so we gladly took it.

I'm so pleased because I now no longer need to jump up and down in the bathroom to see how a full outfit looks.

And of course, there should be more photos of new clothing buys :)

This one's a new asymmetrical ruffly top I bought in KL. I love how fun it is to wear!

*Let me know what you think THIS is!

A little quiz


Can anyone guess what this is?
=)
I'm so pleased with this photo!

Who's the Culprit...Still?

The mystery of our door being scratched at night is still not solved.

Spraying of detergent helped for a couple of days until I think the soapy smell wore off. 2 days ago, we noticed another bout of scratches and wood bits on the floor. Interestingly, the thing went back to the exact same patch and basically made the patch bigger.

We decided to pepper the place with chilli flakes, as advised from an apartment community I am part of.

This morning, there were even more wood shavings on the floor.

Roboman is convinced it is either a domestic cat from a neighbour's apartment, or a civet cat from the wild. My dad thinks it could be a woodpecker.

I'm going to have to call our development's Management Office to see if something can be done about it. Like put up signs to tell people to watch their cats!

Long Bar

I forgot how it can be fun hanging out once in a while at Raffles Hotel's Long Bar.

Sipping on the sweet Singapore Sling, listening to a fun loving band, nibbling on groundnuts, and doing the traditional throw of groundnut shells on the ground, is a curious mix that makes spending time there an enjoyable affair.

Durian Fest

The cousins definitely had durians on their itinerary. Living in New Zealand, they only get to enjoy frozen ones, which would have lost some of their flavour and texture.

Therefore, despite just downing a huge dinner, we trooped to have durian for dessert. It was late, and we got there just before the Chinatown stall closed (after coming by from another place where the stalls had already closed!)

I sat and watched them thoroughly enjoy themselves. I really like observing people appreciate their food! :)


New Cabinet

In the midst of last few busy days, I got our carpenter in to fix a little cabinet under this sink in our guest bathroom. I love it that it helps hide the pipes under the sink.

We also build some new shelves in our kitchen and master bathroom. We realised we needed them only after moving in!

I'm thankful for the additional storage places - there never seems to be enough for an (recovering) hoarder like me.

Busy!

Wow, I have not had a chance to touch the computer in a while!

I have been working away from my desk in the day, and we have been out till late the last few evenings.

We sent the cousin-in-law off on her flight back to Japan this morning, and in the evening, we met another set of cousins (this time the New Zealanders) for a meal and durians.

More updates and pictures to come, but here's just some of the food we've had last weekend!





Mum's Cooking

My mum's the sweetest!

She decided to do a National Day dinner for all of us. In my family, we have a yearly National Day dinner tradition. My mum would cook a one-dish meal (eg. Claypot Chicken Rice) and we would gather to watch the parade on TV.

This year, she decided to do a spicy Laksa, AND brought the food to our place! She thought the cousin-in-law would enjoy a spicy dish. My grandma also came along, so it was a nice little family gathering =)

Mum also brought lots of fruits (she feels I don't have enough fruit in my diet!), and cut the watermelon into Christmas tree shapes - how fun! She says it prevents us from getting watermelon all over our cheeks! heh heh





My "Olympics" Experience

I'm interested to hear views about this experience I've had:

We were at Harry's the night of the Olympics opening. The ceremony was shown on the TVs there - just like how any major sporting event is screened. We thought it was a nice touch, although we were really there to grab a drink and listen to Paul.

Suddenly, we heard screams, cheers and loud China! China! chants. We turned and saw a group of about 10 young Chinese nationals shouting away. We, the bartenders, and the other patrons gave knowing looks to each other and smiled. There was a sense of understanding about the pride of the Chinese. We clapped along with them. The opening ceremony, after all, was really well executed and spectacular, understandably a milestone event to be proud of.

Then, it was time for Paul to play his first set of the night. Just like any other evening, the sound of the TVs were turned off. 30 seconds into his playing, a young Chinese man with funky spectacles and a fedora hat came up and asked him not to play so that the volume of the TVs could be turned back on. This was despite that fact that the tables around the stage were all full of other patrons there specifically to listen to Paul's performance.

Paul diplomatically told him that he could not, and asked him to speak with the manager. The young man continued to stand in front and was persistent in his request. Finally, one of the other patrons got fed up and asked him too to talk to the manager. At that point, the young man flared up, and started to point and shout at that patron.

Thankfully the manager quickly came and managed to lead the young man away. Not long after, the group of Chinese started to shout and cheer even louder in bid to drown out Paul's performance, much to the annoyance of everyone else.

Finally, they must have realised that all the cheering would not be enough for Harry's to cancel a planned performance. They walked out of the bar, but not before the young man went back to that patron to drop a few sarcastic comments, and each person in the group individually giving Paul dirty looks.

We cheered when Paul chose to sing "I Can See Clearly Now" soon after!

Being soft-hearted, I did feel a tinge of sorry for the young Chinese, full of earnestness and nationalistic pride. But really, the Olympics opening could have been viewed at home, and their behaviour without regard for others, was really unacceptable.

Tell me what you think!

Do you understand what NO means?

The cousin-in-law needed to change some currency. We stood in queue at a money changer, and were discussing how much she should change. She commented that she shouldn't bother to change too much, since shopping could be done using her credit card.

We don't know if it is her strong British accent, but a man in front of us turned and said (too with a British accent): You shouldn't use a credit card, it is too expensive. He then shook his head and turned his back on us. We didn't bother replying because he spoke in an off-handed, nonchalant manner.

When he finished changing his money, he turned again, and said: Don't use a credit card. Here! And then proceeded to hand over a S$50 bill peeled off from his wad of notes to my cousin-in-law.

She immediately refused and said loudly and clearly: No, I don't want it.

He obviously did not understand a No when he hears it, because before we knew it, he stuffed the note in her bag and walked away!

We didn't realise quite what happened until we looked down at her bag and saw the note there. We looked up and couldn't see where he went anymore. We were furious! Why would a complete stranger force money down on us? We were obviously not needing it and clearly said NO. It was almost as if he was making a point that he has more than enough money and a S$50 is no big a deal.

The cousin-in-law refused to keep the money and asked me to donate it to my church for community work.

There are all sorts in our world.

The Cousin-in-law's Visit

The cousin-in-law flew in from Japan to spend a couple of days with us. She plied us with Japanese mochi, and cute Japanese souvenirs.

Being British, she missed UK's High Street brands, so it was a day of Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Warehouse and River Island shopping yesterday.

Being the planner I am, I arranged her itinerary such that she could do all that she wanted in the shortest time :) It was appointments with the Spa for a deep tissue massage, the hair stylist for a hair wash and cut, lots of different food places, a trip to Haji Lane, and to Harry's at the Esplanade to listen to Paul Ponnadurai.

We also made her play her scratch take track for us. I was thrilled to listen to her husky singing voice. If she ever becomes famous one day, we'll be her fans for sure! =)

Weekly Chef - Prawn Vongole

The vongole that did not.

I was craving for clams and decided to give Beanbean's recipe a try. Unfortunately for 2 days in a row I arrived too late at the supermarket and the clams were sold out :(

So I decided to make do with prawns, and threw in mushrooms and a leftover tomato.

It didn't, as expected, have the lovely mellow-sweet taste of clams of course, but it was pretty yummy still :)

Simmering goodness as the white wine was being reduced

Dinner!

Leftovers I had for lunch the next day :)

Who's the culprit?

I woke up yesterday and saw this sight at my storeroom door. We live on a low floor, and this door faces an open balcony. A patch of paint and wooden door bits got scratched out! We were shocked because it was perfectly fine the day before.

It was very puzzling and slightly worrying so I decided to post this on an apartment forum just to see if anyone knew what could have caused this.

I got replies that suggested anything from squirrels, cats, rats, to a burglar, "something" from the 7th month Hungry Ghost season, and fairies that I might have pissed off. Very interesting.

I received useful tips that I should spray the place with vinegar or cayenne pepper to scare of animals. When we got home, I diligently and solemnly told Roboman about these 2 ideas that I unearthed online, and suggested that we should listen to the "experts". He quietly considered it, said a hmmm or two, then proceeded to pick up our bottle of Bang - the all purpose (and very powerful) detergent to spray the place!

LOL

So much for doing research!

My (huge) Malaysian Breakfast

Technically this is a photo of my brother-in-law's food - I thought it looked better than mine. hur hur.

My favourite Nasi Lemak Ayam (chicken) from Village Park Restaurant in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The rice is absolutely fluffy and flavourful, with a beautiful fragrance. The fried chicken (yes, everyone knows I'm a fried chicken fan) is done gorgeously, with perfect seasoning, crisp skin and juicy meat - the Malaysians really do fried chicken wonderfully.

Ooh, I'm salivating just remembering this meal!



Oyster Rush

As part of the seafood meal, we had a huge platter of oysters. There were more than enough to go around, so everyone agreed that Roboman and I should have a second helping each!

Apparently a cheeky nudge about the baby-making process :D

The oysters were HUGE

Brightening up my day

Someone said to me recently that I seem to like bright colours.

I was taken aback because I have a LOT of black clothes. I can fill up a laundry load of all black clothes.

But coming a person whom I just got to know recently, I guess she's not wrong. I have been wearing a lot more colour lately.

I guess colour does make me happy :)

Daddy's Big Hands

Our university Chaplain flew in to attend a friend's wedding. We took the opportunity to gather a few close uni-mates for a simple dinner at our place.

A couple who just returned from living in the US brought their little 3-month-old daughter along. It was my first time seeing her in real-life (saw lots of photos). She is a really sweet baby.

I was amused with how her father's hands could wrap all the way around her little body! He is a tall strapping fellow, so it is natural that he would have big hands. But still, I never noticed how big his hands were until he carried his baby girl :)

I'm reminded that this is how life is sometimes. We forget how big our God is, and how He is holding us in His big hands!

Matthew 7:9-11

Geoduck!

We were in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend (and the Monday) for a short break and to visit relatives.

As with every trip there, I ATE SO MUCH! The local Malaysian fare is so incredibly delicious that I really tucked into huge meals. The rellies are all foodies, so they always know where we should make our eating pit-stops.

I'll probably be posting some food pics over the next few posts, but these ones had to be the first.

We ate this:

Doesn't it look absolutely disgusting?! I've probably eaten this before at wedding banquets, but I just never knew that it looked like this until recent years. Geoduck is really a type of clam which is considered a delicacy in this part of the world.

It is usually eaten hotpot style as you can see in the photo below or sashimi style with soy sauce and wasabi. It has a crunchy texture and it absorbs the flavours of the broth it is cooked in.

I didn't want to eat it raw (although apparently it is a lot sweeter raw), after seeing the tank it was in, but quite enjoyed it cooked in the broth. In fact, I drank 3 bowls of the flavourful broth that was made with seafood stock and a variety of Chinese herbs.

We collectively decided that we probably would not order this again though. Just this once to see how it tastes.

Geoduck, anyone?

My Money Plant

I'm not very good with identifying plants but I was told this little one is a money plant. I hope the stems grow to be long and flowy because I think it will look lovely on my window sill! :)

Zuwai Crabs!

I want to try these crabs!!

We intended to but by the time we waited for our tables, we were so famished we forgot about these and ordered ramen.

I've to go back!


Pretty Birdcage Lights

I really do not like to see birds in cages. The sight makes me feel sad :(

But these birdcage lights are really pretty and caught my eye as we were dining under them: