Some months back, I stumbled on The Happiness Project, written by Gretchen Rubin, on the Overdrive app (an excellent app that allows you to borrow and read ebooks from the National Library on your iPad).
Without going into too many details, the book is a memoir about the author’s experimental project to improve her level of happiness over a period of 12 months using a series of prompts. The book was published ten years ago but I have only recently heard of it.
While The Happiness Project received mixed reviews on Amazon, I enjoyed reading it so much I went on to borrow her other books – Better Than Before and Happier At Home. They were all good fun reads and I felt personally inspired by her ideas and concepts.
So this year, I decided to sign up for a community-based personal Happiness Project where I am supposed to create my own prompt and resolution driven project. Will write more about that soon. Time to go to sleep.
I have always wanted a food processor and a high-end blender like the Vitamix. But I was reluctant to add two kitchen gadgets to my counter-top.
I have heard so many good things about the Thermomix – it combines all the functionalities of a blender, food processor, miller, steamer in one machine in one machine, and is able to cook food. The downside is that it is the hefty price tag, and would be the most expensive standalone kitchen equipment that I own.
Recently, I attended a Thermomix demo with my friends. Mince shallots and garlic finely within 5 seconds? Cook or steam food at a pre-set temperature and time? Mill grains into fine powder? Pound lobster shells to make bisque? Make lemonade in seconds? Weigh food as you go along? Blend vegetables into soup? Make jam and custard without having to stand and stir constantly over a stove? This machine can do all of that.
I was sold.
Since I took delivery of the machine, I have been playing with it almost everyday. I made braised beehoon (thin vermicelli noodles), ginger sesame chicken, stir-fried vegetables, onsen eggs and my favorite so far, soybean milk.
The soybeans, after being soaked overnight, are blended in the Thermomix, passed through a sieve and added back to the machine, before being cooked in the machine with pandan leaves and some sugar. All done in 30 minutes!
I have been bringing a hot thermos flask of soybean milk to work almost everyday!
My last post on this blog was in August 2016. Two-and-a-half-years years have since gone past. I have continued to pay for this self-hosted website even though I wasn’t sure I would write in this blog again.
I was looking around on the Internet for a free e-commerce website and it pointed me to WooCommerce, a free plug-in if you have a self-hosted WordPress website. So that’s how I ventured back into this website to check out the e-commerce plug-in.
Why did I stop even though I enjoyed writing here? I am not quite sure. I suppose it was easier to keep vignettes of my life and travels on social media such as Instagram than having to write a longer piece here. The other reason being that I used to write on my ancient 2010 MacBook Air which became slower and slower, to the point that I stopped using it.
I am now writing this on the WordPress app on my iPhone. It isn’t too bad because I can upload photos taken with the iPhone directly onto the blog without having to go through PhotoBucket. Just takes some getting used to.
I have been seeing this beautiful rosette pattern quite a bit on Instagram, but I could not find any written instructions in English online. After much searching, I found a video tutorial on a blog for this pattern. Unfortunately, the instructions were in a foreign language – Turkish, I think.
I played the video forwards and backwards countless times to eyeball the stitches and after much hair-pulling, managed to figure it out. It is quite an easy pattern to make and I have to find some time to write it down before I forget.
I thought it would be an overkill if I made a rosette on all the granny squares so I decided to alternate the rosette granny square with a plain solid granny square, and then made a lattice-style edging before stitching it to the fabric.
Another milestone in my self-taught sewing lessons. I made a zipper that is concealed. It turned out quite well though the machine stitches could have been neater.
I love the print of this fabric which I bought from Sin Mui Heng at People’s Park Centre. This is a lightweight and silky-smooth cotton fabric from Japan that costs $16 for a yard. I could have bought something cheaper from Spotlight but I do not like the look and quality of their fabrics which are mostly from China. I like going to Sin Mui Heng – most of their staff are elderly aunties who are helpful and polite.
If someone were to tell me 30 years ago that I would resemble my mother 30 years later in that we both love buying fabrics (for making clothes in her case), I would say the person is crazy.
The cushion inserts in the previous two cushion covers were sewn into the cover and cannot be removed. For this piece, I decided to sew a zipper to the fabric so that the cushion insert can be removed. It was my first time sewing a zipper and as you can see from the photo, it was not sewn straight even with the use of pins! I definitely need more practice with the sewing machine.
I like the bright and cheery prints on this fabric that I bought in Japan.
This time, I had a slightly easier time making a roll-hem on the fabric and sewing it to the crochet piece. I can now see why some crafters use a plain fabric (as opposed to one with prints) so that you don’t have worry about the prints looking ‘crooked’ or ‘slanted’.
I am going to take a break from this popcorn stitch pattern for a while. There is another 3-D rosette granny square pattern that I have been dying to try and have only recently found a video tutorial on it.
It has been a while since the husband and I dined out at a nice restaurant on our own. There are so many new restaurants popping up every month, we are spoilt for choice whenever we want to splurge on a meal.
I came across Meta Restaurant when I was browsing around in Chope. The website introduced the restaurant as one that serves modern cuisine with an Asian (Korean) influence. The chef is Korean who was trained in French cooking. I was intrigued by the chef’s profile, especially after visiting Jung Sik Dang in Seoul, as it is not usual to see modern cuisine with a Korean influence. You see quite a number of restaurants serving modern food with Japanese flavors; not so much Korean.
Meta Restaurant has only a fixed price menu that changes every season. We had their Spring menu. I thought the restaurant was a tad cheeky in how they displayed the price of dinner. At first glance, the menu showed 9 courses for a price of $118++ per head. However, if you look again carefully, of these 9 courses, 3 courses are supplementary courses (ranging between $20 – $28) that would increase the cost of dinner incrementally depending on the number of supplementary courses you pick.
In other words, the price of $118++ per head is for only 6 courses displayed on the menu, and if you pick all 3 supplementary courses, you would add an approximate $70++ to your dinner bill. A whopping $190++ per person (excluding drinks) if you eat every item printed on the Spring menu.
Well, the menu and prices are published on the restaurant’s website, so you cannot say that you have not been forewarned before making a dinner reservation.
We opted for the full menu and a glass of wine each.
Clockwise: (1) Meat wrapped in a cabbage, pickled cucumber, kimchi puff balls (amuse bouche); (2) Irish oyster in a gingery broth with pomelo (supplementary); (3) Hokkaido scallop in a yuzu-shiso dressing; (4) Bibimbap with sea urchin; (5) Squid and sea snail fennel Korean pancake; (6) Seabass in a clam broth with daikon and fregola (supplementary)
Clockwise: (7) Quail with burdock, Jerusalem artichoke and carrot puree; (8) Lamb with doenjang and celeriac; (9) Wagyu striploin with tendon, shitake and potato; (10) Mango ice cream with passionfruit, toffee and coffee (supplementary); (11) Bingsu; (12) Cookie frozen in liquid nitrogen (courtesy of the chef)
The food was beautifully executed and very good. Every course had ingredients that were creatively put together, the presentation was visually interesting, flavors were balanced and very tasty. You do not even have to like Korean food to enjoy the food because the Korean ingredients used are very subtle, not strong and overwhelming like how we know traditional Korean food to be.
We liked everything that we ate – the panfried seabass and quail were my favourites. The sea bass was fresh and very sweet, and the quail was delicious without being too gamey.
The chef came over to say hello. He speaks English fluently having spent some years in Australia, but with a Singaporean accent (you can definitely hear the Singlish tones), has a Singaporean wife and enjoys chicken rice and kway chap.
I would recommend Meta to anyone who is interested in modern cuisine, particularly one with a Asian/Korean twist. But the price is the only drawback here. I find it is too expensive for most people I know given the numerous dining options available in this city, and for us to make a repeat visit when they change their menu next season. Pity, ‘cos the meal was so enjoyable I would like to know what else the chef has to offer in his next menu change.
I don’t usually queue up for food but I had some time to kill while waiting for a hair appointment, so I joined the queue that had formed outside BAKE about 15 minutes before the shop’s opening hours.
These cheese tarts were quite tasty. The crust was crispy and the cheese filling was moist, rich and runny. But at a price of $3.50 each, I find them a little small (you could eat one in two big bites). I prefer Pablo’s cheese tarts for its larger size, better taste and texture of the cheese (firmer, less runny).
Having tried both Pablo and BAKE, the husband and I like our local old-school egg custard tarts better. I love the ones with a wobbly egg custard and melt-in-your-mouth pastry crust from Tai Chong Kok Confectionary at Bukit Merah Lane (in one of the shophouses opposite the Alexandra Village Food Centre.
After pondering about it for some time, I finally went out and bought a Brothers sewing machine. It has been nearly 20 years since I touched a sewing machine in school during Home Economics class. Although the very helpful sales assistant at Courts gave me a 30-minute crash course in how to operate the sewing machine, but unfortunately, less than 30% of what she said stayed with me. She also gave me her mobile number, just in case I needed “SOS” when using the machine, but I am glad that I have not had to call her yet.
I am not one to read the operating manual of a gadget from start to end. The best way to learn something (at least for me) is to jump right into it and start doing it. I decided to sew the fabric piece to another cushion cover that I had completed crocheting. The last vintage popcorn stitch cushion cover that I had hand sewn together is here.
I watched a couple of Youtube videos on how to hem the edges of the fabric and make seams using the sewing machine, took a deep breath, and turned on the machine. I managed to thread the sewing machine and wind the bobbin, hem all four sides of the fabric after re-doing it several times. I could not really control the pedal well so the stitching came out looking uneven and very messy! Sewing the crochet piece to the fabric was quite challenging because the thread in the bobbin kept getting caught in the machine which meant repeated un-picking and re-sewing. After what seemed like ages, I finally joined 3 sides of the cushion cover using the machine. All I had to do was stuff the cushion insert into the cover and hand-sew the last side (which led to even more messiness).
Quite decent for a first effort but lots more practice is needed in using the machine. For my next cushion cover, I will learn how to attach a zip to the back. This is really fun. 🙂
I fell in love with this cute Angie Bunny amigurumi designed by CrochetObjet. She also designed a wardrobe – sweater, pajamas, ski boots, shoes, a dress – for the bunny. Every time I see a new photo posted by her of the bunny in a different outfit on Instagram, I feel like making a bunny immediately.
Which I eventually did.
In addition to the bunny, I also wanted to make the set of pajamas for the bunny but the pattern proved too tedious for me. I made one leg of the pants and decided to ditch this set of pajamas for a one-piece dress, using another pattern from CrochetObjet. The pajamas pattern is not difficult to follow, just time-consuming, and on this occasion, I needed the gratification of completing the bunny to come sooner.
Ta-dah. Pink dress. Pink ballet shoes. Purple crochet flower with a fabric button that I had made myself. 🙂
Using a 2.5mm hook, this bunny measures approximately 24cm in length. I should have made the dress a little longer.
I have been seeing this lovely popcorn stitch pattern around a lot on Pinterest, and I finally found the pattern online. The final product has a 3-dimensional, vintage look that gives off a whimsical feel to the cushion cover. Also, I like crocheting popcorn stitches (I make them using 6 double-crochets which unfortunately ‘eats’ up quite a bit of yarn.)
There is a lot of flexibility in the pattern. To make a bigger or smaller piece, you could adjust the number of rows of popcorn stitches.
For the back piece, I decided to use a fabric in a cheery yellow and blue Scandinavian print that I bought in Japan recently. The problem is that I do not know how to machine-sew the fabric to the crochet piece. So I sewed both pieces together by hand. I have not sewed anything for at least 2 decades, and it took me ages to complete this task.
The result was rather satisfactory, though the stitching is obviously untidy if you look very closely. I am toying with the idea of taking up sewing classes (noooooo, I shouldn’t take up more hobbies), but in the meantime, I should just enlist my aunt’s help if I need to complete another cushion cover.
Japan is a haven for crafters. Their stationery shops, fabric shops, handicraft shops are places where I can spend all day wandering around in.
With the husband in tow, I had to exercise restraint in the amount of time I spent in these shops. Despite the limited time that I had, I managed to get some pretty good fabric buys. I bought most of the fabric in ABC Mart in the Q’s Mall in Osaka (Tennoji), Hankyu Department Store in Osaka, Nomura Tailor in Kyoto and Yuzawaya in Takashimaya Shinjuku. Pity that I did not have time to visit the Nippori Fabric Town in Tokyo.
I have seen Blüte being featured on a number of travel and lifestyle blogs as a beautiful garden-themed cafe in Seoul. I have never been there so during the November trip to Seoul, I dropped by Blüte on an early Saturday morning, intending to have brunch and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had the cafe all to myself (unlike Singapore where people throng to cafes during weekends at hours as early as 8am). Unfortunately, I was too early for brunch (available from 11am onwards) so I could only have a cup of coffee.
Most of the addresses on the Internet still show Blüte to be located at its old premises in Hannamdong, and I would have headed there if not for the fact that I double-checked the address geo-tagged to a recent Instagram photo of Blüte that I had seen on my feed. (Phew!) Blute is now located in Hongdae, and just a short stroll from Sangsu subway station.
A postcard-pretty view of the garden once you enter the grounds of the cafe. It must be very nice to sit out on the veranda during spring and autumn.
That is a lot of gardening to do on a cold, wintry morning.
Spacious interiors which are beautifully dressed up in a whimsical decor of potted green plants, dried flowers, retro and vintage furniture. This cafe reminds me of Shop Wonderland at Haji Lane.
This is a really pretty spot for chilling out with a book and a cup of coffee. It is really a woman’s sort of place, eh? I cannot imagine men hanging out with their buddies in this space.
The lovely garden shed out in the garden.
The entire place feels so magical, made even more so by the autumnal colors in the shrubs, and it feels as though I have been transported to a different world, one that you read of in children’s books like Alice In Wonderland.
Blüte Address: 12, Wausan-ro 14-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul Directions: Alight at exit 2 of Sangsu Station (Line 6)