Friday, April 30, 2010

Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

"And are all those beastly giants over there really going off again tonight to eat people ?" Sophie asked. - the BFG
"Mathilda's parents have called her some terrible things. The truth is, she's a genius and they're the stupid ones. " - Matilda
"... the Trunchbull let go of her pigtails and Amanda went sailing like a rocket right over the wire fence of the playground and high up into the sky." - Matilda
"Very slowly, the young lady on the platform raised her hands to her face. I saw her gloved fingers unhooking something behind her ears, and then.. - The Witches
"With his secret plans and clever tricks, the Enormous Crocodile desires to lunch not with but on a nice, juicy child ". - The Enormous Crocodile
My favourite children's book author has to be Roald Dahl. His stories are a mixture of wit and mayhem and are wickedly good ! Its brilliance is matched by the visual artistry of illustrator Quentin Blake whose distinct style uses fast scribbly lines that flows with spontaneity and excitement. Despite, strong visuals from movie adaptations of Roald Dahl's stories, Quentin Blake's illustrations are the ones that remain the most vivid in my mind.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Asian destination

This has really been a busy month on the work front and it does help when I know that around the corner, a holiday awaits. This embroidery picture at the corner of my living room makes me yearn for a destination in Asia. I would love to visit Beijing or Shanghai or even Vietnam. All I need to do now is to plan.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Asian aromatics

Clockwise from top left - kaffir limes and its leaves, galangal, tumeric leave (daun kunyit) and lemon grass

I love the aromatic fragrance of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage and basil as they give such a wonderful lift to Western dishes but closer to home is the range of Asian herbs.
Geylang market in Singapore is one of the best places to go to for these herbs and I love the vibrancy and pulse of this recently refurbished place. It has herbs that are difficult to find in supermarkets and other wet markets such as tumeric leaves (daun kunyit) which flavour my favourite rendang, a dry curry that is a popular in Singapore. This and other basics that I must have in my fridge are fresh lemon grass, galangal (blue ginger), kaffir lime and its leaves. The "holy trinity" of lemon grass, galangal and kaffir leaves gives a lemony, citrusy aromatic base to many Asian dishes such as tom yum and curries.
There is also the kaffa lime which is distinguished from ordinary limes by its bumpy exterior and slightly elongated neck. Its zest and kaffir leaves are essential to Thai curries, differentiating its taste from the Indian ones. Some of these herbs mentioned such as daun kunyit and kaffir limes leaves can be kept in zip lock bags and placed in the freezer. This way, it lasts a little longer and saves one's time from constant replenshing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Dressmaker and the chicken

In a world of mass disposable culture , clothes are no longer expected to last as long as they used to , especially from mass brands. Trendy as they are , they are also highly likely to lose their shape or colour after a few washings. It comes down mainly to the quality of the material used and the workmanship. Years back in Singapore, it was so much fun to have your own choice of material and design when you head to the dressmaker. It is still possible today but at a much higher price as dressmaking is no longer as thriving as it used to be. Perhaps more in Thailand and Vietnam where you can replicate the latest catwalk fashions in any material of choice at a very reasonable price. Moreover, they are even able to deliver within 24 hours if there 's a need. I certainly would love to try that one day.
But in Singapore, having dresses made was popular only way back in the 70's and early 80's as workmanship was considerably cheaper. Mum used to bring me along to High Street or People's Park in Chinatown during weekends to buy yards of beautiful cloth, from Italian jerseys to Swiss voile and British cotton. It was very tiring but when I was good, mum even allowed me to choose some material to make my own clothes. That perked me up considerably and kept me good natured for the rest of the trip. I was around 8 then and was quite a vain little girl. I loved tailored dresses and even wore them with the most ridiculous things like pink boots. Till today, I still remember how most of my tailored dresses looked. My favourite was a purple polka dotted dress with a sailor collar. Well, ..... it looked alright for a kid.

For me, a trip to the dressmaker was memorable. Her name was Daisy and her face was always pasty white from a home-made white rice mask that seemed perpetually stuck to her face. And what was stranger was the pet chicken she kept in her 3 room Red Hill flat. I kept my feet up most of the time because I was fearful that the chicken would peck at my toes. But after a while, I got used to it and would even feed the chicken with grains of rice. However, during one of my trips, the chicken was conspicuously missing. Much to my horror, Daisy nonchalantly told my mum that the chicken made a good curry dish. There was a lump in my throat. She went on to vividly describe how the chicken had quite a number of dressmaking pins in her stomach. I felt sick. It was a sad ending to a silly real life story. To a kid, it was quite traumatizing because I couldn't understand how an animal that was kept as a pet could be eaten when the novelty wore off.
But I soon got over this episode and was distracted by the pretty clothes my mum and I were going to make. Daisy had quite a large selection of fashion pattern books, Japanese ones as well as those from Simplicity and McCalls. With the vintage revival, the latter are making the Ebay rounds once again. As they say, fashion always comes full circle and designers seek the past decades for inspiration. Mini dresses of the 60s, maxi dresses of the 70s, animal prints, Bohemian tops etc. Just like the Justin Timberlake song, “What goes around, comes around.”
And yes ! Amen to the chicken.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cat Socrates

Mr Tin Man

Polariod shots and postcards displayed in whimsical ways

A very Zakka collection of notebooks and homeware

There is a cosy zakka shop at Bras Basah Complex amidst the second hand bookshops on the third level ( #03-39b). I stumbled upon it by chance and was impressed with the lovely selection of books, stationery, totebags, tin toys and homeware. There is also a small leisure corner where you can take a rest. It goes by a most unusual name CatSocrates and it does have a consideration number of cat themed merchandise in the shop. Lovely !


Went shopping for lights recently and there seems to be a present trend of having "a chandelier in a hat ". Chandeliers have been making a big comeback for the past few years and some light designer must have been asking himself, " What next ? "

Eventually decided to choose a hanging lampshade light with laser cut lace motiffs on it. Love the lace patterns reflected when the light is turned on.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vintage pyrex wares

Picture via

Came across a most delightful collection of vintage Pyrex wares on the web. Pyrex wares are made in the USA and the older vintage designs are such a delight to look at and have. They definitely brighten up the kitchen and dinner setting !