Saturday, December 17, 2011

7 Reasons Not to Worry

From the book of Matthew:

The same God who created life in you can be trusted with details of your life. 6:25 Worry about the future hampers your efforts today. 6:26 Worry is more harmful than helpful. 6:27 God does not ignore those who depend on Him. 6:28-30 Worry shows a lack of faith and understanding of God. 6:31-32 There are real challenges God wants us to pursue and worrying keeps us from them. 6:33 Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry. 6:34

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Coming clean

One thing I always seem to do is to compare my abilities, experiences - heck, my whole being with other people. The way I write, the way I dress, the books I read, the places I've been, how I look and the list goes on. So much so that I always think that I'm never good enough in what I do, always striving to pick up something I have no interest in just so I can be like that other person or looking at my work and never being completely satisfied.

But isn't that how we've been brought up? Kindergarten, middle school, high school all the way to university and even in the workplace, aren't we always reminded to be competitive, that our successes are only successes relative to someone else's failure or averageness? If you're first, someone has to come second. Isn't that how it's always worked?

Well, I've decided that enough is enough. It's true. I've always felt envious about what other people are doing. I read an article in Marie Claire a few months back about the Fear of Missing Out. Probably not as valid as clinical depression but might very well be. With the Internet showcasing about a million other people doing exactly what you've always wanted so easily, so successfully, how can you not start to feel even a little inferior? After reading that article I just thought, gosh I have that! And the reason is because I'm turning 23 and have nothing to show for all my years of living. No exciting portfolio of travels or experiences, no out-of-this-world stories to share. Or so I thought.

It took me awhile to realise that experience is experience, whether big or small. Yes, of course there are other people whose experiences can make you feel like a frog living under a coconut shell. But you know what, you don't have to bungee jump off the tallest building or swim with an ocean of sharks to say you have experience, experience comes in so many ways. The people you talk to, the things you see everyday, everything is experience! And whether I realise it or not, these small things have made up who I am. And who I am today is an independent woman with her own views of life, her own style of doing what she does and master of her own thoughts.

I still have a world and a lifetime of experiences to go. And while I may not be able to travel the world, I have to keep reminding myself that growth comes with everything I do, see, feel, touch, listen, taste.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reasons to Tell Mom 'I Love You'

Growing up with my family, it seems like there was always a strain between Mom and I. While I remember the times when she would read me stories about bears and bedtimes, I also remember how hard she would push me and my sister for every school exam. And when I say push, I mean cane if we don't get satisfactory marks. Her expectations of us were sky-high. She was definitely the driving force behind all my straight A's.

My siblings and I always used to see her as a monster. As kids, we didn't like to be pushed so hard. We found ways to go against her as often as possible. Of course, the more we rebelled, the angrier she got and the angrier she was, the more she lashed out on us. And the more she lashed out on us, the further we were pushed away. And the cycle goes on.

But now, as I talked to Mom about my fees and going home, she is the most supportive being who tries to understand how hard I am working here. We've never said 'I love you's this many times, in fact at all. Coming here, I see someone who is willing to take out every cent from her savings so that I am able to do what I want. And when I offered to not go home to help save for my fees, she tells me not to worry and come home anyway.

A mother's job is never, ever an easy one. Looking at Mom, I know how difficult she's had it with us - from all our antics (Like painting the backroom wall with hideous Buncho paint 'Do you love *a bowl of noodles*?' and pouring her rice all over the outside floor to catch birds) to our hard-headedness to our rebellion against her well-meant disciplining. Possibly that's why all daughters are 'Daddy's girls'. Because Mommy is always busy trying to lead us to the right path and teach us responsibility, she comes across as the 'un-fun' and 'strict' one.

Now that I have 'left the nest', so to speak, I realise that Mom was the one who have coaxed me out into the world and taught me how to fly. Her expectations of us were so high because she knew what we were capable of. She knew that we had it in us to make it big. Her sacrifice has been huge, I know this especially in this whole ordeal of me coming to study in Australia. I have seen tremendous support like she's never shown before and for that I love her to bits. She will continue to be my driving force - to aim higher and to work harder for that goal.

'Love you forever'.

I'll love you forever too, Mom.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Once Upon a Long Distance Time

As I read Quaintly's most recent post, I find myself nodding at what she writes about the experience in being in a long distance relationship. That never mind what happiness manages to steer you away from the fact that your loved one is a thousand miles away throughout the day, that you will always, always return to a bed that is cold and worst of all starkingly empty at night.

But what makes it all worth it, is that single moment when you know the both of you are going to meet again. The date is set, and all you do is cross out the days leading up to that moment on the calender. When you reach that precious day, circled twice over in red ink, you put on your best clothes and with fluttering butterflies and clammy hands, you meet and every ounce of loneliness you've been feeling the past one week, one month, one year, vanishes. The next thing you know, you're in his/her arms - everything is right again.

People will tell you that it gets easier with each hello, goodbye. But only you know that it doesn't, it feels like it will never get easier. Of course, if you only had to do it for a certain time frame, then you'd know the feeling of relief when it's all over. But for others, each hello that you know will inadvertently end with a goodbye, each goodbye that you don't know when will end gets worse and worse. Some couples survive it and some couples don't. It's the most difficult thing when it comes to being apart with a loved one - both physically and mentally.

I remember special occasions that were spent not entirely alone, but with friends who try to surround me with all the love that they possibly have to offer. It's different and never enough. Like when fireworks paint the sky with loud, colourful streaks during Independence Day, or when I watch as couples around me hand each other roses on Valentine's... In fact, it didn't even need to be a special occasion, I just needed to see another couple holding hands, laughing with each other and it was enough to reduce me into a weepy mess (On the occasional emotional days, but they were never far apart enough).

Now I look back and pride myself in having been through and succeeded to overcome those lonely three years. But I don't think that I would ever, ever go through long-distance again. Ever. Not as I wake up in the morning with him snoring softly (Or not so) beside me, or when I go into that occasional outraged fit with him. I see myself as strong enough to have come this far, but if put into that situation again, I would feel equally as helpless as I felt then.

So to those of you who are going through the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship, no matter how short or long (because there really is not much of a difference) a time frame, you deserve to be applauded. And all I can say is that when you come out of this, you'll overcome any obstacle thrown at you. You'll come out more mature and stronger and there will be a time when you look at each other and smile as you reminisce the old days. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Nothing makes me happier...

... than to be inspired by great photographs.
... than to be in the arms of a loved one.
... than to have a belly-jiggling, choking laugh with friends, family and at that odd cat video.
... than to have my morning cup of coffee.
... than to have Sunday breakfasts/brunches/lunches (depending on what time we manage to pull ourselves awake.
... than to walk hand in hand with him, in the rain, in a city we love, with the world dashing about around us.
... than to have a hot bath when it's so, so cold.
... than to be playing crossword puzzles and laughing at the words we come up with.
... than to rediscover old photos and smile at the recollection of a memory of a much simpler, innocent time.
... than to read the last page of a good book and feel satisfied.
... than to dream and dream.
... than to have time to myself to dance around the room and blast music.
... than to race across the carpark, although he always wins.

and most of all,

nothing makes me happier than to be genuinely happy, filled with love in the world, feel the restlessness of wanting to be something better and the busyness of a very good day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Late Night Cravings: Choc Mint Brownies

I swear, this is not going to turn into a baking blog although, I have been pretty obsessed with food photography blogs that I've stumbled upon while looking for recipes.

I think it is because we're right smack in the middle of Winter now and all I want to do is to keep warm and have something that will insulate me a little better. Apart from the compulsory quilt (and extra blanket), what better way to fatten yourself up than with desserts - both cold and hot? :)

Tonight while looking at some of the most delectable food blogs (with pictures to match) I started craving - as in, really craving - for a rich, moist chocolate brownie. Then I came across this chocolate mint brownie recipe and I knew I just had to bake it. Like now. Nevermind that it's 11 o'clock at night and nevermind that I have not ran in a couple of days.

Brownie. Now.

And so I did. But after tonight, I'm placing a ban on myself. No more junk food (except that mandatory ice-cream at work, heh) especially this late at night. My sweet tooth has gotten the better of me and I'm noticing it in my waistline.

Before the ban though I'm allowing myself to indulge! Thus the recent baking spree. And without further ado, chocolate mint brownies (in a cup)!

Brownie layer:
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
114g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
250g granulated white sugar
1tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (70g) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Mint layer:
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (115g) confectioners sugar
1tbsp non-fat Greek yoghurt (Or heavy cream)
1/2tsp peppermint extract
Chocolate glaze:
3 ounces (90g) semisweet chocolate
1tbsp (14g) unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 160ºC and place rack in the center of the oven. Line a 9x9 inch (23x23cm) baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Melt butter and chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour and salt and beat until smooth and glossy and comes away from sides of the pan. Pur batter evenly into prepared pan.
3. Bake in preheater oven for 25 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from the sides and edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to completely cool.
Mint layer:
1. With electric mixer, beat ingredients until smooth. Add a little extra cream if frosting is too thick. Spread evenly over cooled brownie layer.
2. Place in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes or until firm.
Chocolate glaze:
1. In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate and butter.
2. Spread over mint filling and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until chocolate glaze starts to dull.
As you can see, my brownies didn't consist of three layers. Firstly it was because I didn't have a small-enough pan to bake my brownies in so instead, I used my muffin tray. Secondly it was because I got lazy and I didn't want to wait for another 30 minutes just to have that chocolate glaze!

The brownies were quite good. I added a lot more peppermint essence into my frosting because I like mine a lot more minty. I liked that the outside is crispy and the insides oh so soft and chewy! :) Not the best brownies I've had but for a quick fix, it was pretty good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Robocog, Surry Hills

It had been a long week for me and I just wanted a day to unwind and relax before semester starts again. I start work late on Sunday which gave me a fair amount of time to do just that. The weather forecast for the week had been rain, rain, rain but on Sunday, it was just a bit chilly - a great day for hanging out with friends for Sunday brunch! :)

A friend suggested Robocog Cafe in Surry Hills for brunch and I was more than happy to see it scored a whopping 97% on UrbanSpoon. But honestly, I'm happy wherever there's good coffee and salmon eggs benedict.

Upon reaching the little cafe with the white picket fenced patio and wooden tables, my stomach was already growling in anticipation for food. It was more lunch than brunch by the time we got there and I was just thankful that we managed to get a table despite the place being quite packed.

Although small, the cafe managed to maintain a bright and airy feel. Its walls are painted white and were decorated with an assortment of - you guessed it - robots and cycling paraphernalia. I have a thing for quirky, fun decoration and Robocog ticks this box for me.

I had their salmon eggs benedict but stole a bit off everyone else's plate too. It could be that I was just hungry but everything tasted really good to me.

Having a hearty (yummy) meal always makes me happy after. I had such a nice time catching up with friends and lunch was just the icing on the cake. Would definitely come here again to try the rest of the menu.

Robo Cog, 249 Riley St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9281 2880

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Week in Point Form

1. Cravings for all things sweet - Macarons, strawberries, cupcakes, creme brulee, bars of chocolate, ice-cream.

2. Hi Tempura crunchy seaweed. Yum.

3. Winter is making me so lazy. But the cold is perfect for snuggles and warm cups of hot chocolate with marshmellows. Oh, and spicy-sour tom yam.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

5. Breakfast.

6. Late night MasterChef sessions with the boyfriend. Go, Billy!

7. Art. Photography. Origami.

8. Franz Kafka

Friday, July 15, 2011

Inspired by: Elisa Mazzone

Elisa Mazzone is an Australian illustrator whose works feature soft colours, feminine figures and embellishments.

My (sort-of) take on her artwork:

Pencil on paper; edited on Photoshop.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Packing on the Winter weight

With leftover egg yolks from my macarons, I decided to go ahead and bake this very simple dessert - the unpretentious crème brûlée.

Awesome Thing #990: When you come home from work, eat dinner and you find that you're just in time to watch your favourite TV show.

I don't get very much free time these days because I've been working so much. On most days I work from the afternoon to about 10.30 at night. And that's probably why I now appreciate my free time a lot more than I used to! I find myself packing a lot in to the little hours I have left in my day doing the things that I love. These days, I bake a lot and watch TV during dinner (an indulgence I don't always get). My absolute favourite days are ones when I can come home in the evening and have a nice home-cooked dinner with not much to do after. :) Really, we take these little things for granted - until they become a rarity.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Macarons with White Chocolate and Strawberry Ganache

The title sounds very Master Chef-y doesn't it? I think it's because macarons (Even just its name) have this ability to fancy up just about anything. This sandwich of a sweet filling between delicate cookies not only looks like the prettiest little thing but is so packed with sweetness has got me craving for some! And today being my only day off from work in such a long time, I thought I'd spend it doing something productive.

I have had this packet of almond meal sitting in my pantry for the longest time. I've been wanting to make macarons but just reading recipes has put me off attempting to bake them. So many problems can arise in baking such an innocent looking thing - crumbly dome, no feet, dry meringue, over-beating egg whites, under-mixing ingredients, air pockets in the meringue and the list just goes on. For someone as amateur in the kitchen as me, it's no wonder that the technical side of this dessert scared me off. But my craving for something sweet has been so overpowering (Read: Period cravings) I just HAD to make some!

And this is how they turned out:

Recipe is from here!

As you can see, my macarons had cracked domes and no feet which is such a disappointment! :( The foot of the macaron is what makes them look so cute - like a fluttery skirt around the dainty cookie. I had to bake three batches before I could get them to look anywhere near perfect looking like a macaron!

The first one (With the egg whites left to sit overnight on the kitchen countertop), my batter was too watery because I didn't beat the egg whites long enough and they spread like goo on my tray. But after letting them sit for about three hours I decided to bake them anyway. This batch was the most surprising because not only the shell was smooth but little feet formed around each dome! Unfortunately they were just too out of shape and too thin to put the ganache in between.

The second, I didn't want to leave the egg whites sitting for another whole day just so I can bake them again! I read here that it's not compulsory anyway so I just used the eggs right away. I also didn't leave this batter to dry out as long as my third and the domes didn't crack but they didn't have feet around them.

The third (Second photo) was possibly the worst batch in terms of looks. The shells of every macaron was cracked and still NO FEET. But they retained their shapes and were my most consistent ones that I decided to turn them into macarons anyway.

My verdict is that macarons take such a long time and it's a trial-and-error process that requires a lot of patience! But was it worth it? YES. Because they all taste SO GOOD. Even the boyfriend loved them and he's not much of a sweet tooth! This recipe that I followed made some very nice-tasting macarons which are not overly sweet (Like how macarons tend to be). The ganache was so yummy I could have scooped it in spoonfuls and ate it just like that! Overall, I'd definitely make them again if I have the time and it could possibly be as soon as my next day off. I would think that once I get the shells perfect, it would be such a sweet success! Literally.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The boyfriend had two surprises for me after work two nights ago. One was coming to my workplace to walk me home; and two - ingredients for baking red velvet cupcakes! I have a feeling this was because he saw contestants on the MasterChef program bake them for one of their challenges but you know what, I'm not going complain about the lack of originality when I'm getting cupcakes to eat.

We started baking at about 12a.m. I know, so absurd. But it's never too late to bake a sweet treat, I think. Here are the pictures and recipe:

2 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
60mL red food colouring
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vingear
1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream cheese icing:
450g cream cheese, softened
120g unsalted butter, softened
1teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix food colouring and cocoa powder to form thin, smooth paste. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down bowl frequently with a spatula. Add one third of the flour mixture into batter, beat well. Next add half of the buttermilk and beat.
6. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of the buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined.
7. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine.
8. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between cake pans (Or muffin cups) and bake at 180ºC for 25-30 minutes, or until skewer stick comes out clean.
9. Cool cupcakes before icing.
10. For the icing, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth with electric mixer. Add in icing sugar, salt and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy.

I decided to be a bit stingy on the icing because I usually dislike any kind of icing on my cake. But this recipe was so good! Immediately regretted not making more for the cupcakes! The cupcakes turned out quite well, the entire batch is nearly gone now. This recipe is so simple even an amateur baker like me can do it (Granted I had help from the boy)! The only thing that I was a bit iffy about was that the recipe needed SO MUCH colouring, it was almost scary. But I'll let loose this time, only because they were yummy.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life Lessons from a Silly, Ole Bear

If wisdom comes with age, then we've got a lot to learn from A.A Milne's 'tubby little cubby all stuffed in fluff'. For the times when his head is not stuck in a jar of honey, Winnie-the-Pooh has taught me about loyalty, love, friendship and the (non-)importance of being sensible.

On Friendship

"If you live to be 100, I hope I will live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you."

"It is so much more friendly with two."

On Love

"Some people care too much, I think it's called Love."

"If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever."

On Patience

"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small fluff in his ear."

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day."

On the (Non-)Importance of Sensibility

"People who don't think probably don't have brains; rather, they have grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake."

"Those who are clever, who have a Brain, never understand anything."

On Doing Nothing

"Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."

On Exercise

"A Bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise."

And possibly my favourite quote from the lovable Bear:

"If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

10 Awesome Things so far

#1000: Coming home to your sleeping partner and when you wiggle into bed next to him, he puts his arms around you like it's the most natural thing.

#999: When you change into unsightly, hole-y but super comfortable pj's after being in jeans the whole day.

The boyfriend calls them 'unattractive' but I love the warmth they envelope my legs with! Especially in this cold winter.

#998: When you come home after work and you smell dinner cooking on the stove.

Today, I came home hungry and was almost willing to devour anything that was in front of me. There was a wonderful smell in the air and when my housemate greeted me at the door, I asked if that was her cooking. She laughed and answered, 'Oh no, that's your boyfriend cooking!' And it just makes dinner all the more awesome. :)

#997: When you discover really old pictures and realise how much you've changed

Yesterday I took out my old Nokia N73 and started looking through the gallery of photos and videos. Most of them were of my sister, Jade and I, others with Kai and some were random. I laughed at many of them and they just reminded me of how long a way I've come! From the girl who could only wish to get to where she is right now to the lady I am today.

#996: When suddenly you realise the steep hill you've been climbing for months doesn't leave you quite as out-of-breath anymore.

It just goes to show that any exercise novice can get to where they want to be. And soon enough, all the sweat and pain (literally) will feel worth it! :) I used to be the worst runner - my limit was a sad 5 minutes. But today, I run 6km at my best! And 4km almost once every two days. All you need is determination and a whole lot of (small) rewards after!

#995: When you pull the stiff nose strip off and you see the little mounds of dirt stuck on.

It is so gross, but at the same time almost relieving when you see how much dirt you've managed to remove with a single pore strip! And sometimes, you almost can't wait for the next three days so you can put one more right back on! :D

#994: Getting a two-in-one deal!

I wanted a world map for quite a while, and just found out that a friend got his for $300! I didn't have $300 to spare but a pleasant surprise came in the form of this month's frankie magazine! For in between two of its beautiful pages, I found a colourful map of the world by Barcelona-based illustrator, Judy Kaufmann! And better still, this July/August issue is all about Awesome Things! Its pages are filled with amazing life lessons that I would quote right here if I didn't think it was more worth it to go out and get your own copy!

#993: Looking at the sky and spotting random shapes

I spotted a rubber duck-shaped cloud yesterday and couldn't help but smile. Picture here! :)

#992: The feeling you get after a great big s t r e t c h ! to soothe tired & sore muscles.

#991: Having a Korean housemate who cooks awesome kimchi fried rice. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1000 Awesome Things Project

Inspired by 1000AwesomeThings, I will be aiming to countdown 1000 awesome things of my own! Because life's too short to dwell on the less awesome things.

On some days, life feels a bit overwhelming. On some days, it feels like there is nothing to look forward to or that you're wishing with all your heart that you're somewhere (or someone) else. And although there has been a lot of focus on living in the present and counting your blessings and being happy with what you have, how many of us truly appreciate the little things in life? To smile at a budding flower? To look out of a window with the sun's warmth shining upon your face? To celebrate all our successes - big and small?

This is the 'Pursuit of Happiness' bit of my blog. And I hope in the long run, I will be able to truly embrace the little wonders in my life. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

I picked up this book randomly in Mid Valley's MPH Bookstore January this year but thought nothing much of it. Only I liked how the cover looks like: A colourful childlike writing in crayon against a white background. So much for not judging a book by its cover.

I brought it over to Australia, one of the few books that I collected so I don't buy any more when I'm here. Harhar, did that work out well! I thought I was done with reading for at least another month after having to read four (difficult) books for English this semester. But now that it's the Winter holidays, there's not much more that I want to do than to curl up in bed with my quilt around me with something to pass the time.

Yesterday, the boy and I spent the entire day in bed, reading. Him with his book about assassins and I'm not quite sure what else, me and my Room. And let's just say that the book is true to Boston Globe's praise on the front cover - 'Impossible to put down ... A riveting, powerful novel ... Room is, hands down, one of the best books of the year.'

This gripping story, told by 5-year-old Jack is horrific but through the innocence and naivety of a child, made somewhat bearable. To Jack, Room is where he was born, the only space he has ever known but for his Ma, it is her eleven-by-eleven-foot prison where she has been held captive by Old Nick for seven years. Jack has never been Outside, his whole life was built in this square shed with his Ma. The only view of Outside is through Skylight which lets in sunlight ('God's face') in the mornings and moonlight in the nighttime.

One day, when Jack is five and two days, his Ma tells him something: That Outside exists and there are millions and millions of people and things that he cannot imagine are real, like ice-cream. Jack has only lived his life with his Ma as company and TV to pass the time, and for this little boy, he finds it hard to grasp the fact that there are other people besides just the two of them (And Old Nick, but he might be 'half-TV') and things outside of Room.

That becomes the beginning of a wild adventure for the pair. Jack's curiosity and questions about the Outside and everything in it leaves you feeling different about the world. We see the furious love of a mother who would do anything to protect her child, and we see a child who has been trapped for so long that strangeness becomes his normal (Like sleeping in Wardrobe). Having to adjust to a world suddenly too big and 'with so many rules', this story is about little Prince JackerJack and Ma starting all over again.

Here is a trailer that you MUST watch! It sums the story perfectly and already makes me want to cry:

Read other reviews here!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

And this is the path that I chose

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It's normal to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through".

Ira Glass

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy Duanwu Festival!

I have never been a very traditional Chinese, not celebrating many Chinese festivals and only unknowingly participating in eating the foods prepared during these times. Although, I've got a feeling that having a housemate from China will change that! ;P

Today is the Duanwu festival, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival and according to Wikipedia, it is a public holiday in mainland China. Laura, my dear housemate from China very excitedly attempted to make bak-zhang (this is in Hokkien. In Mandarin, it's zong. My pronunciation for any word in any Chinese dialect is flawed. Best ask my housemate, Laura!), a traditional Chinese glutinous rice dumpling with fillings such as pork or chicken, boiled peanuts, and Chinese mushrooms, slow cooked in boiling water while wrapped in bamboo leaves. According to Laura, she usually makes the sweet ones which (according to Wiki, yet again) is the Northern style of cooking zong.

The first attempt wasn't successful (although it tasted quite nice, it didn't exactly taste like real zong) and today we decided to try again. Kai cooked and prepared most of the ingredients while Laura and I helped wrap them up!

This time round, the zong tasted AMAZING! Almost exactly like the ones that we usually have in Malaysia! :D But of course, the recipe cannot be credited to ourselves, it was taken from here!

I strongly recommend this recipe to anyone who wants to try making this. The blogger comes from Malaysia if I'm not mistaken and that is possibly why the recipe ended up tasting very much like home. :)

If you managed to make your own zong, share it with me! :) Happy Duanwu Festival, everybuddeh!

Note: Dragon brush used on the photos is from here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sewing Project 1: Camera Pouch

While it rained and poured and thundered outside, I stayed in and decided to work on a mini project. Some of you may know that I got a Canon S95 for my birthday, but it didn't come with any kind of casing or pouch. Instead of going out and buying a pouch (which may cost anywhere between 40AUD to 100AUD for good ones), I made my own!

Using this tutorial, I handstitched the whole thing because I don't own a sewing machine. The pouch turned out quite pretty but the stitches are terribly lopsided and messy!

I used the cloth from an unwanted dress and some ribbon lying around. This is only temporary of course, because it hasn't got enough padding and I'm just not satisfied with the stitches! But until I get around to sewing another one, this will have to do for the time being. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

22 on the 27th

Cake courtesy of Ngar Huei and Laura! Cake image by Laura.

I turned 22 on Friday and despite growing older, I feel very much at peace with the person I've become. I have never been a big Birthday person but this year's birthday felt special because of the people who have celebrated it with me. To everyone, thank you for your wishes, the phone calls, messages, surprises and most of all, for making my day one to remember. :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons, You Make Lemon Meringue Pie!

Tuesdays are my new favourite days because I pretty much have the whole day to myself. Tuesday is the day I play Housewife: Do the laundry, clean the room, cook dinner while Kai goes off to uni until 6. Today, I attempted to bake a Lemon Meringue Pie just because I have been craving for the tangy/sweet goodness that comes with the tart. It took me about four hours to make but it was so worth it!

This is the recipe that I used taken from! This recipe is fairly simple albeit quite time-consuming. Although, I suppose lemon meringues usually take this long anyway.

1. Sift flour and icing sugar. Use fingertips to rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add water and stir until dough forms. Use hands to bring dough together. Turn onto a sheet of baking paper and roll out to form a 5mm thick crust. Line the crust in a 23cm pie dish. Trim excess pastry and cover with baking sheet. Place into refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Fill lined dish with pastry weights or rice. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove weights and bake further for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and golden. Set to cool.

4. Lemon filling: Combine cornflour + water + lemon juice + half amount of sugar in a saucepan. Use a hand whisk to stir over medium heat for 4 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens. Continue to cook, stirring constantly for further 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and egg yolks. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 3 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Use electric beater and beat egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, one teaspoon at a time until mixture is thick and glossy.
6. Spread filling over the base of the pastry case. Spoon over the meringue mixture and spread to the edge of the pastry. Use the back of spoon to create peaks. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until meringue peaks are light brown. Set aside to cool completely.

My pie is just cooling down at the moment but this is what the end product looks like:

So gorgeous! Can't wait to dip my fork in and take a bite. I'll tell you how it turns out. :)

Edit:// I loved it! The custard is way too sweet though. Will probably only use about 1/2 - 3/4cup of sugar for the custard. And I think the crust is not enough! There should be MOAR. Just a little note for anyone wanting to try the recipe. :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Birthday. Shyan! ♥

It's been such a long time since I've woken up at 7a.m that I don't even remember what it's like anymore. Despite me deeming anytime before 10a.m ungodly, today morning was so beautiful that I was set in the best mood that stayed throughout the day. :)

We headed to the city for an early breakfast for a friend's birthday. It was so refreshing taking in the morning air, so dewy and mild and cool. We breathed out little fogs as we walked along the city's roads.

And on a street called Foveaux sits a little cosy cafe with dark wood aesthetics and the thick scent of coffee wafting through the air. At 7.30am, Le Monde Cafe is already buzzing with activity. People grabbing their first cup of jo, reading the newspapers at their tables on the sidewalk, hotcakes and eggs benedict and fruity muesli bowls.


Kai Xian with his gluttony and Yu Ling's excited face! :D

Shyan and I. Happy birthday!

Birthday muffin.

Once again, Happy Birthday Shyan! I hope you enjoyed breakfast as much as I did. May your wildest dreams and all your wishes come true this year! Lots of love.