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Making Scented Candles At Bloesem

We are always tempted to veg out at home on weekends. But still, we try to do one or two light activities such as going for brunch, grabbing a coffee or ice cream somewhere, visiting the nursery to get fresh flowers, and aim to head home after lunch.

A couple of weekends ago, I signed up for two classes over Saturday and Sunday. One class was to learn how to make scented candles, and this was held at Bloesem, a charming and cosy studio in Tiong Bahru. The other was to learn how to make jewelry at a class taught by Woon Hung at Soon Lee in Haji Lane.  I love Woon Hung’s handmade jewelry, and I have purchased a number of pieces made by her.  

It was clearly not great planning to schedule two classes in one weekend, because this meant that I spent most of that weekend out.  

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The scented candle making class, held on a Saturday, was a 3-hour session.  I really liked the vibe and look of Bloesem studio – it is basically an old Tiong Bahru apartment with a kitchenette, a bedroom and a living room, that has been converted into a bright, airy, modern space.  The living room became a work space for conducting classes, the kitchenette is a functioning one that is used to make coffee, warm up snacks and prepare lunch for the participants of the class.  

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The class was conducted by the folks behind Deckle & Hide, who supply Bloesem with their homemade scented candles out of their home studio in Brisbane.  They talked us through the theory of making scented candles – their philosophy when sourcing for ingredients, the type of aromatherapy oil that is best for making candles, what to consider when selecting a combination of scents, how to mix and match them using cotton bud sticks, and the ratio of oil versus wax (we used soy wax in the class), points to think about when selecting the shape of containers for the scented candles.

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Trial and error!  My favorite combination – orange, lavender, cedar and lime. After a while, you can get quite overwhelmed by the aromatherapy oils that you have to keep sniffing at.  Olfactory overload. Good thing is that good quality organic botanical oils were used during the class; otherwise, I may have felt quite nauseous.

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I like how they serve you little tea cakes, cookies and coffee at the start of class.  Tasty treats.

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My scented candles – using a little peanut butter jar and a milk bottle.  I was advised not to use a cylindrical type container as the flame gets too close to the mouth of the bottle which may cause an explosion.

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We ended off the class with a light and tasty lunch – pomelo salad tossed with shallots, peanuts and prawns.  Loved it!  I have to learn how to re-create this.  

Bloesem has pretty interesting classes, if you look at their past workshops.  I am already thinking about signing up for the next one.

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Library@Orchard

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Library@Orchard at Orchard Gateway. Our very hip library that is the new hang-out place in town. While I love the decor, layout and furniture, I avoid going there on weekends. It is so beautiful, and I would love to spend more time browsing but the place is JUST. TOO. CROWDED.

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Anime: Sakamichi No Apollon (Kids On The Slope)

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I chanced upon this anime, Kids On The Slope, one day when it was showing on TV. My husband is a channel-surfer and happened to pause at the channel that was airing this anime. I watched about five minutes of it before the channel was switched (again), and liked it enough to hunt for it online.

If you like slice-of-life animes (which I do, very much) revolving around friendships, growing pains, teenage angst and romance, Kids On The Slope is something that I highly recommend. What sets the anime apart from most of the others in the genre is the 1960s setting and using jazz music as one of its central themes. Sounds a bit like a Murakami book – maybe the anime writer is a Murakami fan.

The plot is fairly straightforward, and revolves around three high school students – a rich lonely boy, a studious girl whose family owns a record shop and a rough-around-the-edges mixed-blood boy who dislikes studying – and their shared love for jazz music. They set up a jazz band in the basement of the girl’s house, and meet regularly to play music together with the girl’s father and another family friend. It is a sweet, poignant story about how a quiet lonely boy opens up with the right friends. I am not a fan of jazz music, but I liked the various pieces featured in the anime. The jazz band performances were very realistic, and I enjoyed watching the band perform in the anime.

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Vintage Coin Purse In Christmas Colours

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I love these little coin purses.  They are useful for keeping not just coins, but for storing jewelry  in your handbag, or when you are travelling.  I decided to try making one myself using bright green cotton yarn.  The shade of green makes me think of Christmas trees, and thought about added a red flower just to give the purse a pop of color.  It would be even better if I had sewn on a little pearl button in the middle of the flower.  Will have to hunt out some pretty pearl buttons for my next piece.  I had so much fun making this!

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Ten-ele-ven 2014

Time flies past so quickly, and I have officially grown one year older.   Instead of lamenting about what I have not done in the past year, I am just going to be grateful that I am still alive, in reasonably good health (I hope!), surrounded by family, good friends and loved ones.

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I didn’t do much today, except to get myself an extremely painful tuina massage at a Chinese medical shop.  I also did gua-sha for the first time.  It is a Chinese medical treatment where the skin is scraped to produce a light bruising.  It is supposed to release harmful toxins from one’s body and improve blood circulation.  Sitting for long hours in the office has given me terrible back and shoulder pains.  I feel so much better now, and I am going to relax and enjoy the rest of today.

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Crochet: Red, Green & White Hexagons

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These days, retail therapy for me is hopping onto the Downtown Line and heading to People’s Park Centre to buy yarn at Golden Dragon. I just want to get as far away as possible from the crowds and the usual shopping malls.

Made this hexagon doily in Christmas colors with my latest haul of yarn!  I like the pop of colour.  Bright and cheery. 

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Random Thoughts

 photo photo1-140801-v2__zps28d1ccab.jpgI am so glad that this is a long weekend.  I have been so busy at work that I haven’t had much energy to do anything fun after work and during the weekends.  Even blogging here is beginning to feel like work, and that shouldn’t be the case.    I have to keep reminding myself how I should NOT to react to the amount of work, looming deadlines and a dozen of things that demand my attention everyday.  Some days, there are a zillion thoughts and worries that go round and round my mind, wounding it up so tightly that I feel my brain is about to explode.  Come on, it is JUST work.

I try to run all my errands online now.  If I can buy something on the Internet, I will.  I get my books through Book Depository or Amazon, but mostly, I purchase digital books and read them on my iPad.  For clothes, I buy them from ASOS, Yesstyle (particularly the Korean brands), In Good Company (whose clothes I really like), and lately, I have added Zalora to my online shopping repertoire – I see some River Island shift and swing dresses that I like.  I am too lazy to mix and match my clothes, so I have been buying simple shift dresses (preferably dresses that require minimal ironing) that I can wear to work and for the weekends. There is good and reliable iHerb for getting toiletries and dry groceries such as organic nuts, granola, chia seeds and vitamins.

Maybe I am just getting old and terribly jaded; there isn’t that many things that I feel like doing.  I used to like going for walks at the Botanic Garden, Henderson Waves or Sungei Buloh.  But these days, being out in the heat and humidity, and occasionally, the haze, is the last thing that I want to do on a weekend.  I just want to lie down on my sofa, read a book, chill out with a glass of wine and some crackers, or watch a drama or anime on my computer.  I don’t even feel like trying out new recipes, and I have completely stopped baking.

 photo photo2-141005-v2__zps97f9444f.jpgAt least I still enjoy crocheting, and I adore those Paint By Number kits.  These simple, albeit tedious activities help me to relax.  Looking at the painting kit, I would say that my late grandpa (who is a very good hobbyist painter) will be proud of me.  As for the crochet, I have no idea what it is going to be at the end of the day. If I have the patience and perseverance, it may turn out to be an Afghan throw.

 

 

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Bangkok: SabX2 Wanton Noodles & Pig’s Trotters And Intestines

Last month, we went on a 4-day getaway to Bangkok with another couple friends of ours.  It was the husband’s birthday that week and the trip was some sort of an extended celebration.  An excuse to indulge, really.  We had a delicious dinner at Waku Ghin the weekend before we went away, and during the trip, continued to pamper ourselves with nice meals at Nahm and Gaggan, over and above all the yummy local food that we ate in the City of Angels.

I have heard so much about SabX2, the famous wanton noodles at Pratunam in Bangkok, I couldn’t wait to try it for myself.  I love eating the version sold in Singapore and I wanted to see how it fared against the original one in Bangkok.  

SabX2 is located in an alley (Soi 19 Petchburi Road) directly across the road from Platinum Mall, so it is a very convenient pit-stop for lunch after some shopping at Platinum Mall.  

 photo photo4-140921-v2__zps2641d0c1.jpgYou cannot miss the stall, and the snaking queue, once you walk into Soi 19.  SabX2  sells wanton noodles as well as braised pig’s trotters and intestines.  The food is prepared out at the front, where you place your orders while in the queue, before being led into the air-conditioned dining room by the extremely efficient wait staff.

 photo photo2-140921-v2__zpsa17cacb7.jpgStylo-mylo hawkers.  They look like hip-hop dancers, especially the chap wearing the sunnies.

 photo photo1-140921-v2__zps5f6f6d91.jpg photo photo2-140830-v2__zps9dd47933.jpgThe massive vat containing mouth-watering but cholesterol-laden braised pig’s trotters and intestines.  I LOVE innards.  Pig innards.  Cow innards.  Chicken innards.  Have not tried sheep innards, but game to give it a try when I get the chance to.  I could not wait to stuff my face with intestines.  It was during our second visit to the shop that we ate the pig’s intestines. The first time that we were there for lunch, the intestines were sold out.  According to the wait staff, the intestines are very popular and sell out usually before lunch.  So we made sure to drop by again the next day at 10am for brunch, and ate two plates of intestines and trotters.

 photo photo3-140921-v2__zps4e5488cc.jpgTiny place but air-conditioned, thankfully.  Customers are packed like sardines in a can.  But no one seems to really mind because everyone is happily tucking into platters of sinful food.

 photo photo5-140921-v2__zpse2a46441.jpgUnctuous. The best braised pig’s intestines that I have eaten.  The magic is in the gravy. It is ADDICTIVE.  There is a strong hint of five spice powder, but I am sure there are other spices in the concoction. Get hold of that recipe and you will be assured of a perpetual queue  AND a ringing cash register in Singapore.

 photo photo1-140928-v2__zps4524d528.jpgMelt-in-your-mouth cartilage, tendons and pig’s skin soaked in that glorious gravy.

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THB50 for a tiny bowl of wanton noodles.  It takes three big bites of the noodles and you are done.  I had to eat two bowls to feel some measure of satisfaction.  Overall, I prefer the Singapore version – just because the wantons are tastier and the noodles are cooked slightly more al dente than the version in SabX2.  Taste-wise, both stalls are fairly similar.  SabX2 is definitely worth a visit if you are a lover of pig’s trotters and intestines.  I am definitely going back when I next visit Bangkok!

SabX2 Wanton Noodles
4/32-33 Soi Petchburi 19
Pratunam, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: 02-653 9618, 081-839 5105
Opens daily from 9.30am – 5.30pm

Get there by 10am if you want to eat the pig’s intestines!

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Inspirational Quote By Jac Vanek

Today was a bad day, or rather, another bad day in many weeks of bad days.  Will there ever be a good day again, I was thinking.  Then I came across this inspirational quote on my Instagram account this evening, and felt slightly better about my day.  

You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in. You are what you take from these. You are the sound of the ocean, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner.

You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life. You are every single second of every single day. So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge and existence. Let the words run through your veins and let the colors fill your mind until there is nothing left to do but explode. There are no wrong answers. Inspiration is everything. Sit back, relax, and take it all in. Now, go out and create something.

~ Jan Vancek

I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how bad a day is, I have to find just that one small spark to brighten up my day.

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Haruki Murakami: Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage

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Has anyone read Murakami’s latest book?

I love ebooks, because I get instant gratification just by clicking a few buttons on the iPad. I downloaded the ebook from iTunes as soon as the English version was released.  I was too lazy to make the trip to the bookstore to get a copy.

I am not going to write about my views of the book, ‘cos it is just too difficult to describe how I felt about the book. Murakami is just complicated in that way. Since it was a relatively short book (compared to his previous works), I read it all in one sitting, and immediately felt like I had to read it all over again. Like most Murakami books, it feels as though he has written only half the story when the book ended.

“What..?! How could he have ended the book just like that!” Surely, I must have missed something along the way.  Besides his strange plots, I have always enjoyed his prose, the ideas that he tries to convey (which I struggle to comprehend mostly – but anything that makes you reflect and ponder has to be a good thing), and his references to music and books.  This time, it’s Liszt’s piano concerto le mal du pays that has been featured in the book.  The piece is too melancholic for me…

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Gardens By The Bay: Supertrees At Night

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We dropped by Gardens By The Bay to pick up some orchids from the Garden Festival and caught this. It is the first time that I am seeing the dazzling light display at the Supertrees at night.

#gardensbythebay

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