Monday, October 26, 2009

More buttons

Just like how squirrels store up on nuts and acorns for a cold winter day, I stock up on buttons. Not sure when I will actually get around to using them but I love looking at their colours and shapes.

Especially when my favourite market vendor "Uncle" starts selling them at a fantastic price and giving me more on top of what I am buying. These old Japanese buttons remind me of those colourful Vicks cough drops in different flavours. Strangely, I don't see these cough drops anymore and wonder if they are still in production. My favourite buttons among these are the ones in shades of blue and green and in between.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Wandered into a shop at Bugis Junction yesterday after lunch and came across some wonderful confectioneries such as macaroons, donuts, swiss rolls and loaves of delicious bread with cute expressions. Only catch - they aren't meant to be eaten. Some people destress by eating cakes and other delectable sweet delights and I must confess that I am amongst them. But what I found helps to destress in a different way without the calories. They come with cute emoticons and are oh so squeezable.
I did assume they were created in Japan, land of the kawaii but was intrigued by the use of the word ROTI on some of the products. Singaporeans used the Malay word ROTI for bread and roti culture is very prevalent in my country. The French have their cafes but we have our versions with our unique roti kaya toast and the blackest, strongest coffee. Was pleasantly surprised to discover that these little cute confections were created by Singaporeans using NASA memory foam. Loved it more ! Bought some Roti Toast that can function as a card or mobile phone holder as well as a sweet pink macaroon which can be attached to the mobile phone. I didn't see these lovely baguettes which are actually computer keyboard rests at the shop but I chanced upon them on the Breadou website.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Deepavali - Festival of lights

Flower garlands Elephants on a line
More Muruku
Little Clay oil lamp burners
I was glad I could catch the last day of the Deepavali bazaar in Little India, Singapore just a day before the festival. It was the last day for vendors to sell off their goods and there were good discounts all round. Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights and it is celebrated with Indian sweets, muruku, flower garlands, new bangles and saris and most of all, burning oil lamps to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil.

Monday, October 12, 2009

15 minutes - Friends, Food and Fame

Andy Warhol once said " In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." Welcome to the cafe 15 minutes - Friends, Food and Fame housed on the campus of the LaSalle Collegue of the Arts. High ceilings, huge menu chalk boards and even a stage where anyone can come up to perform and earn their 15 minutes of fame in the evenings . It is so easy to be mistaken that one is in a cafe in Australia or New York.

Food is fabulously cheap and chic especially for lunch. Not a huge selection but what they have is satisfyingly good. Try the wasabi prawn with mayo pizza, the beef stew or their sphagetti spicy prawn aglio olio. For $3, you can get some wonderful golden fries or even some chicken wings . And of course, what is a cafe without a cup of coffee. How about a cup of long black coffee at $2 or a iced capuccino at $3 ? Good food with a huge dose of spaciousness and ambience. I will be coming back for more.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rex the dinosuar

My favourite vendor at the market had some noisy displays that caught my attention this morning. "Uncle" had the most unusual toys that roar (dinosaur ), croak (frog), crow (rooster).

They were electronic motion activated toys that greets everyone approaching its path with the appropriate sounds but only if you leave a certain button on . That means they can take the place of a guard dog. Had to get Rex and I must say he looks looked quite regal against my favourite flowers. My kids think he is quite funny and they want to use it to scare grandma when she comes to visit. I have no objections.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Banana Chips

Came across a CD cover of a Japanese all girl band Shonen Knife that had an striking Yoshimoto Nara illustration. It belonged to a friend who met the 3 ladies Naoko, Michie and Atsuko way back in 1998 and even had them personally autographed.

The band is still playing today and they described their music as "super-eccentric-pop-punk-cult-band-shonen-knife!" . Their upbeat melodies and frivolous, carefree lyrics often touched on sweet and animals. They do sing in English occasionally and their most famous international hit was banana chips.
" Banana chips for you, banana chips for me, banana chips ". Most infectious once you hear it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yoshitomo Nara

My little Yoshitomo corner
A look of contentment

" No, No, No !"

Yoshitomo Nara is an iconic contemporary Japanese artist who loves to draw kids and dogs. The expressions of the kids either leave me bewildered or amused. Are they just grumpy like you've just woken them up from their sleep or are they hiding something quite dark ? How can deceptively simple illustrations look so enigmatic and even edgy ?

My favourite Yoshimoto picture amuses me with her expression. A stubborn little face with a big pout. She looks like she is saying "No, No, No !" Most artistes portray children in the cutest, sweetest way. But not necessarily so in Yoshitomo Nara's world.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Little Bears

I have two little bears dressed up in school uniforms of my old school. My two daughters are now at the same school and being two years apart, they do resemble the bears until they start shoving and pushing each other. Sigh ! Unlike the bears, I am unable to get them to pose together in a sweet sisterly way.

Miss Nana

I decided to perk things up a little in my little cookie corner in my living room. Decided to move Miss Nana, my made in France cheese grater from the kitchen to keep an eye out for those grubby hands of my kids. She has her hair tied up in a bun and with her arms folded, she strikes a very haughty pose. I bought Miss Nana from Carnaby Street in London years ago though I have seen her too with her dark hair sister in a shop at Paragon, Singapore.
A little silly ditty came along with Miss Nana.

Once upon a plate
Round, round, round
A hill of cheese
High, high, high
That an Italian princess
Pretty, pretty, pretty
With a metal dress
Which scratch, scratch, scratch
Gave during a dancing night.
Hum ! I have les Cros, Charles.

One of my little quirks when I travel is to buy cute kitchen gadgets. I have a cute potato head masher, complete with eyes and a grin , a froggie mitten made of silicon etc. Functionable and quirky, isn't that the best of both worlds ?

Boudoir and Mannequin

Boudoir means a lady's private sitting room, dressing room or bedroom while mannequin which also originated from a French word refers to an artiste's model used by tailors, dressmakers to display or fit clothing.
Here is my version of mannequins in a boudoir. Miniatures that is.

Monday, October 5, 2009

English ladies who write cookbooks

I love to read cookbooks. For someone introduced to cooking quite late in life, there is no better way to catch up. Besides the functionality of it, they appeal to me in terms of aesthetics. Beautiful food visuals seduce but there are other aspects that heighten the pleasure of the senses such as the use of a rich colour palette, typography and the stylish use of crockery.
Sophie Dahl's "Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights" - She is the granddaughter of Roald Dahl which explains why the title of her cookbook sounds quite like that of a Roald Dahl storybook. She was a top model who didn't quite fit the mould of a typical model, being a voluptuous size 14. She lived and worked in New York for many years before returning to Britain. A food author is hardly a career you would expect from an ex-model as we often hear how models starve themselves to maintain their figures but it is amusing as Sophie tells her stories between pages of receipes of delicious food. How she stumbled into modelling and as a girl, the influences her grandma and her culinary trained mother had on her. Stories and anectdotes do give cookbooks a personality. Cookbooks from the past used to be an impersonal selection of receipes but now they are quite a delight to learn and read as well.
Jo Pratt's "In the Mood for Food" - Jo Pratt used to assist Gary Rhodes on his BBC show and has also worked alongside Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver but now, she is making a name for herself on her own. It is the prettiest of the three books that I've bought. If Sophie's book evoke glamour, then Jo Pratt's book is about romance. She has a very pretty fushia design running throughout the book and I especially love her dessert suggestions including lemon cheesecake muffins and heart shaped panna cotta with rose syrup.
Tana Ramsey's Family Kitchen - a cookbook from the wife of Gordon Ramsey. Her four kids are a strong feature in this book and she writes with a genuine warmth and love for children. She emphasises a lot on getting kids to try new foods and to help themselves to the right amount of food instead of over indulging in one particular type like pizzas and hamburgers. She recommends receipes that children will love as well as hot soups which are most comforting for kids when they are ill. There is also a whole section devoted to receipes for children's parties.
Looking at the trend, the success of Nigella Lawson has probably paved the way for more ladies to take personality a step furthur when it comes to cook books. Her anecdotes and thoughts are such a joy to read. Her fridge raid in the middle of the night adds quite a good last touch to all her shows as it makes her more real. Plus the fact that she is not slim. I do think it is rather ironic that Britain , a country that isn't really famous for its cuisine has these ladies and men making waves with their cookbooks. It all started with television shows and of course brilliant marketing.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Miniature Designer Chairs

Miniature Le Corbusier Chair
Miniature Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair

Miniature Jens Risom chair
Miniature Paton chair
Miniature Eames Chair
Miniature Eero Aarnio chair

Miniature Egg Blue Arne Jacobsen chair

Miniature Eames RockerI have blogged much earlier on my love of miniatures and was quite happy to come across miniature designer furniture, popularised by the Japanese on the web. Apparently, they are sold in Japan in retail stores, packaged in boxes with no indication of which particular design they are . Just like a lucky dip, you may get a miniature Eames rocker or an Egg chair. How cool is that ! But if you are building a collection and you keep getting the same chair or that one particular design is so elusive that it is making your collection less than complete, it can be frustrating.

Read that a Caucasian lady staying in Japan wanted precisely a model and the Japanese shopkeeper sensing her desperation was kind enough to weigh the different packages for her . The Japanese catalogue actually states the weight of each type of chair and that was the only way you could get close to what you actually want. Story had a happy ending and she finally got what she wanted. Think it is more direct on the web. What you order is what you get - reac Japan on-line shop . More comprehensible for most (as it is in English) is a Singapore website etradersplace which sells all kinds of miniatures imaginable for collectors.

Most of these designer chairs were actually designed way back in the 50's which make them such timeless classics !