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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dealing with the Rascal Growing Up

Just recently, I found out that my youngest brother, the little Rascal, the Monster - whatever term of endearment you would use for the spoiltbrat - is in a relationship. A very caps-lockish Wall Post by my younger sister, Jade ('BOY GOT GIRLFREN. QUITE PRETTY') and 22 equally caps-lockish back and forth replies later, I proceeded to stalk him to find out more about this girl. I wanted to see who she was and was very curious as to what she was thinking, getting herself into this mess. Indeed, she is quite good looking and that shocked me just a little bit more.

Very excitedly, Jade and I launched into an hour-long conversation on Roy (We call him Boy at home. Not sure why, but maybe because it has a ring to it - Roy the Boy) and this girlfriend of his. When did they start dating? For how long? Maybe she's the dominant one in the relationship? etc, etc.

I'm sure some of you have that problem - dealing with the fact that your youngest sibling, particularly if s/he is a lot younger than you, growing up. I find it weird that I still remember how Jade and I would bully our younger brother, him being the only boy and all. We would make him the Big Bad Wolf while we played the three, well, two little pigs and hid safe inside our little fortress assembled with whatever furniture that we could move at the time. He was always the bad guy to all our games. Whether we were playing penguins in our old bedroom (with our white comforter blanketing pillows and bolsters and our bed as snow!) or lions on all fours, we try to single him out because it just wasn't cool to play with your younger brother! Or something like that anyway.

I even remember back when he was a baby. One memory that is so adorable and funny was when Jade and I sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to him in a very sad, low voice and he, as a baby, started crying. Or when we had that Peach Tea drink that we had to share among ourselves and to make it fair, we placed our miniature sofa some ten steps away and the rule was that we could only drink in the ten steps that it took us to reach the sofa (But of course being six years younger, his then tiny feet could only step so far). So funny, looking back now.

Sometimes I forget that he is sixteen already. Why, that's one year older than the age that I started dating! It's weird when you try to remember what you were like when you were sixteen (or fifteen). Having your first boyfriend, or girlfriend in this case. I would like to think that he's not as mature as I was when I was sixteen. But who am I kidding? As the years go by, it becomes quite obvious that he is going to grow up. Like myself, Boy will graduate high school, go to university and graduate from that too. Like me.


Although, I guess that he will always be the Brat to me. Whether he's six, sixteen or sixty. And as he goes through every phase that I go through, it will still shock me equally as much as this news. Jade and I will always find it funny, possibly even as he goes through his first heartbreak, his first job, and everything else.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

In Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen chronicles the life of her main character, Jacob Jankowski at two different points in time: One, as a twenty three-year-old who suddenly finds himself orphaned with nothing to his name during America's Great Depression circa the early '30s, landing a job as a (not quite graduated) veterinarian on the train that carries the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

The second, as a ninety-('Or ninety-three. One or the other.')year-old in a nursing home, frustrated by the frailty of his aging body and on disagreeable terms with just about everything (and everyone) else, who spends his free time daydreaming about his secret past and whose possible highlight these days is the little variation in his daily (unappetizing) meals.

What I look for in a book is how the characters come to life and how they are developed throughout their stories. And with this book, it's quite obvious that the author has done one heck of a research as she brings to life characters that are very vivid, very true to the setting of this novel through a vocabulary that made me feel as if I was being transported to the circus world myself. I had to look up a few terms before I could fully understand how they tie to the circus during the Great Depression -- words like roustabouts, jake, eight-pagers etc.

However, it wasn't just Jacob Jankowski's complicated love story with Marlena or the weird bond formed with his grumpy dwarf carriage-mate and other roustabouts or even the helter-skelter of it all as the circus fights through desperate times that made this story so compelling. More than all that, it is the relationship between the human characters and another star of the show, Rosie the elephant. Rosie's role in this novel is heartwarming and as she goes through mindless abuse by Ringmaster August, she still smiles and will happily accept watermelon, booze or lemonade. Through Rosie, we see the compassion that she teaches to everyone around her but in a turn of events, we also see the malevolence that she is capable of. After all, an elephant never forgets.

It's quite sad that the novel only lasted so long, but I'm glad to say the ending was an unexpected surprise, in a good way too. Right now, I'm looking forward to the movie! The only thing that I am irritated about is that they picked Robert Pattinson to star as Jacob Jankowski. Gah. The trailer, however looks quite promising:-

Friday, May 6, 2011

How to stay sane in a long term relationship

I have been in a relationship with the same person for almost six years now. If that doesn't entitle me to write about being in a long-term relationship, I don't know what does. And living with the boyfriend (for a year and a half now!), there are times when I just feel like murdering the other person in his sleep I'm driven to the point of insanity -- by him, by us, by the routine-ness of our relationship. I realise that it's not always going to be all rainbows and butterflies (it's compromise that moves us along ♫) and as we progress, the further we get from that first-six-months-honeymoon-period. But that doesn't mean it's impossible to reintroduce that lost spark and all its lovey-doveyness into a long-term relationship!

This is for the people who've been with one person practically all their lives (It does feel that way, doesn't it?). Here's how I stay sane throughout the hair-pulling/ voice-raising/ pillow-fighting (and the nicer in-between) times.

1. Get excited about something together.
It could be anything! A party that you're going together, a planned holiday, my a birthday, movies before bedtime, anything!

2. Go on regular dates.
Just the two of you. A strict rule is that you can't have friends tagging along because the whole point is to reconnect. Kai and I only just started making it a habit to have at least one date night a week. And this is where we go for dinner at a new place that we've not tried before and then a movie after -- It helps bring back the old courting days when dinner and movies were 'romantic'. For couples living together, it can be quite difficult to see the point of this since... well, you live together! But seriously, it makes all the difference in the world!

3. Have time apart.
Or different hobbies. Before living with Kai, we were in a long-distance relationship for three years. Those three years apart were not nice, to say the least, but it gave us an opportunity to grow as individuals and to discover separate interests. I know there are couples who pride themselves with being recognised as One person -- I'd rather be a separate entity. But it certainly doesn't mean that I'm not any closer with Kai, it just means that I appreciate myself as being my own person.

4. Choose a hobby.
I know what you're thinking -- 'But you just said...' Well, I know what I just said. But while having separate hobbies and different interests is important, it's equally as important to have things that you both like to do together. Go fishing, watch a movie, play board games or fix a puzzle! It's all about spending quality time together. :)

5. Surprise each other.
Ok, so I haven't surprised Kai in a while now. I should probably get to it. Kai, on the other hand has planned a getaway for the two of us for my birthday without my knowing (at first anyway, he's not very good at keeping secrets tsk.) but a surprise doesn't have to be extravagant or anything. I remember there was one day when I was feeling particularly stressed about an assignment and Kai came home with Gloria Jeans' caramel latte and muffin, Hello Panda chocolate biscuits and other small treats. And it just happened that that was the pick-me-up I so desperately needed at that time. So surprise one another, it's a surefire way to put a smile on your faces. :)

These are just a few things that we can do to maintain closeness in a relationship -- there are so many others that I can think of! But ultimately, every relationship needs a good foundation; one that is built upon mutual respect, communication and appreciation for one another.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Starting anew

I have been contemplating shifting to another blogsite but decided against it since I've been pretty comfortable with Blogger. Instead, I went and did a slight revamp and changed the blog address. And oh, you may have noticed that I removed all my old posts, too. So technically, it's as if I've moved to a whole new blogsite anyway.

But of course, all my old blogposts are saved up somewhere private. I'm just not the kind of person who takes detachment easily.

Having blogged on and off for awhile now, I feel that there is a need to grow in my writing style and it is here that I plan to take writing a bit more seriously. There will be my usual personal anecdotes but ultimately, this will be the space that I can hopefully develop into... Well, a writer of some sort. :)

This is my journey - a pursuit of passion, happiness and all things important.