Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Wonderful World of Mooncakes

Mooncake festival happened just last week on the 22nd September and my over indulgence has made me a little rounder, just like a mooncake. The wide assortment of mooncakes, from new creations to traditional favourites are simply delightful and Tangs the department store has done a brilliant poster featuring the Wonderful World of Mooncakes. Among countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore where a large population of Chinese reside, Singapore seems to have come up tops in terms of mooncake creativity. The snow skin mooncakes that come in a variety of pretty pastel colours were actually first created in Singapore, not to mention the exotic varieties of fillings. There are even ice-cream mooncakes and my childhood favourite - little pigs made with mooncake crust.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Eating together as a family

It has always been a very Asian tradition to eat together. Dinner is the most important meal of the day because it is a time when the whole family gathers. A basic Chinese combination was a 3+1 which consists of different combinations of vegetables, meat and fish. And there was always a simple soup which accounts for the "1". But in today's busy world, we make do with 2 dishes and a soup. All these to go with wonderfully fragrant and fluffy steam rice. A simple daily ritual that is so important to keep the communication going in the family. No matter how busy we are with our lives, we get to hear how everyone's day was. School grades (good or bad), school friends, unreasonable teachers, work happenings etc. My daughters usually take a longer time to finish their dinner and I used to hurry them along as I wanted to get all the dishes done before I could relax for the night. "But mum ! We are bonding !" was their usual response.

They actually have a point. The sisters bond through their school gossips and stories and my husband and I have learned to slow down our pace of eating to join in. It is something that I do not take for granted these days. When the kids get older, we might not get the opportunity to eat dinner together that often. So when we can, we learn to treasure it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Musical boxes

I love musical boxes. Ever since my neighbour showed me the one her dad bought for her mum when they got married. It had a dancing ballerina which went round and round when the music played. Whenever I went over to her house to play, I would always ask her to wind it up so that I can watch the ballerina dance. The sound of musical boxes still enchant me till this day but lovely ones are hard to come by.

Saw one at Taipei's airport just before my flight home and it was romantic in a most irreverent and whimsical way. It was just slightly bigger than a match box and if you press a little button, out pops a toothy dinosaur with a special birthday cake for a little princess. When you wind it up, it plays the tune "Will you be my sweetheart ?". Bought it for my daughter Chloe who loves the dinosaur but doesn't like the little princess. Sigh !

A Little Something for the Home

Was staying at a hotel near Taipei arena where there wasn't really much to see or do. But it was located next to Ikea Taipei which had a number of lifestyle shops in the same building.
Bought a cute little boy planter to replace a similar one I had years ago which my tomboyish little girl broke when she kicked her football right into it. There were also many lovely household items which I resisted buying including this beautiful paper pendant light.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shopping in Taiwan

Little boutiques in Shilin night market

Trinklets framed to catch your attention (Ximending)
Kids' clothes at Shilin night market
A pretty boutique in Shilin night market

A hairy scenario (Shilin night market)
Chewy Taiwanese sausages (Shilin night market)
Frog's eggs, a popular Taiwanese dessert (Shilin night market)

Taiwan's notorious smelly toufu (Shilin night market)
A toilet theme restaurant ( Ximending district )

A fun and colourful billboard at Ximending

Spent 3 days in Taiwan recently for work and whatever time I had in between, I made good use of it by shopping at 2 of its famous shopping areas, the Shilin night market and the Ximengding district.
Taiwan is famous for its night markets which are big and lively with shops and stalls staying open till one or two at night. The most attractive market for variety is the Shilin night market which had all kinds of street food including some bizarre ones like smelly toufu, pigs' blood cake and frog's eggs ( can't say for sure if they are real or made to look like frog's eggs ). There were street stalls amidst little boutiques selling all kinds of goods and that made it really fun !
Tasted the famous A4 size fried chicken cutlet which was huge and delicious especially when eaten hot. With one hand holding a huge cutlet and the other carrying a cup of Taiwan bubble tea, I simply forgot to take a picture ! Was full by this time to actually try anything else though I wished I had tried at least the smelly toufu. Perhaps the next time.
They say that if you haven't visited any of Taiwan's night market, you haven't seen the real Taiwan. Glad I did.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mooncake festival chocolates

Hmm... which one shall I have ?

Mooncake festival is approaching as hotels and restaurants are all out trying to impress with their creations and packaging. But what surprised me when I received a box of chocolates was that it had some lovely mooncake festival designs as well. Some chocolates came with a sweet marzipan top featuring the legendary Chinese moon fairy. They were really too pretty to eat.

Doodling on tote bags

Doodles outlined in black on a white canvas or plain white tote bag can be fun and eye-catching ! Though there are no bright colours, the effect is quite distinctive. You can even turn your doodles into something quite personable and fun to give away as presents. Art Friend at Bras Basah carries some nice plain cotton totes that serve as a blank canvases for little doodle masterpieces. The above features some of the doodles done by an artiste for a Ch 5 tote bag.