Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Too cute to eat cupcakes

Cupcakes are such a sweet indulgence. Just looking at them makes you happy. One of my collegues was leaving and gave each one of us a cupcake. I simply love the penguin on top of a blue wave of frosting. Here they are in sitting in a box. Penguins, ladybird bugs and bumble bees. A visual treat before they are all  given out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flea market finds

I have not been flea marketing for quite sometime and I was really beginning to miss it. My already cluttered cupboards can surely take something more. But I was prepared to be a little more restrained than normal. Only if the things were beautiful and cheap.

Just like inflation these days, prices at the flea market seem to be on the upswing. In the past, there were many charming old couples who had personal vintage things to sell at reasonable prices but lately, many dealers seemed to have moved in, asking for rather high prices.

Met a new lady stall holder who had quite a number of beautiful things. A beautiful oriental vase with a strange pump top caught my eye. It turned out to be a Japanese water dispenser and written at the base -"Produced by Hario". It was one of the two bottles she had received as a wedding present in the 80's and though it was never used, she was willing to part with it for a reasonable price. Thought it was a good deal as the base really had a beautiful Japanese ceramic design and the pump was strong and clean. Hario, as I subsequently discovered means king of glass in Japanese and the Hario factory goes all the way back to 1921. Today, it produces coffee and tea makers which are stylish and modern. This vintage model was totally not in keeping with their present style but like all things old and vintage, I loved it ! The lady was at the stall was so nice that she even sold me a wooden tray with beautiful hand painted flowers for $2. Looks like I won't be able to shake off flea marketing just yet.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What a Fish !

Fish laid out beautifully, no not at an exotic seaport but at NTUC Finest which has a fabulous selection of fish everyday and fresh oysters every weekend

I love eating fish ! Just steaming a fresh garoupa in black sauce, ginger and cilantro brings out the natural freshness of the fish. Lately, I 've been trying out more fish recipes to cut down on my meat intake and today, I oven grilled a trout for the first time with a cream sauce to go over it. Lisa, my elder daughter devoured almost the whole fish and spent the longest time at the table making sure every morsel is cleaned up. Ever since she was a baby, she took to fish like a kitten. At the age of six, she learned how to eat the eye of a curry fish head and since then, there was no turning back. Her younger sister would look totally grossed out and she loved it ! I would be at the crowded market every Saturday morning to get my week's supply of fish and though it is quite a hassle, it is worth the wait for the fish monger to get the fish cleaned. But if I want a more exotic fish like trout or whole salmon, NTUC finest at Thomson has a good selection.

For tropical water fish, there are pomfrets - Chinese pomfret, silver pomfret, golden pomfret and black pomfret, sea-bass - Chinese sea-bass and Japanese sea-bass, tilapia - a fish that is commonly farmed, rabbit fish, milk fish, threadfin, grey mullet, mackerals and even more names which I am still trying to figure out. There are also Chinese versions of the names which most fish mongers go by and that itself is another lesson. Oily fish on the other hand such as cod, salmon, trout, anchovies are found in colder waters and they are termed as oily fish because they contain a higher amount of fish fat. This fish fat is also known as Omega oils and are actually proven to be good brain food. One of my all time favourites is Singapore curry fish head which I think it is healthier and even more delicious when you substitute the high cholesterol coconut milk with fresh milk. Till today, I am still learning and experimenting with fish receipes much to Lisa's delight !

Beautiful chandelier

I love this chandelier exhibit at the Tate Museum and it has got to be the most beautiful I 've ever seen. It has just the right amount of sparkles, baubles and flowers without going over the top. It makes a lovely statement even in a empty room.

The Golden Snitch

It's the size of a huge walnut with the words " I Open at the Close ". It comes with wings which unfortunately do not fly and there is an option of enclosing a little clock. But I would rather use it in other ways. This is actually an earthly, abeit stiffer version of the Snitch, a little Harry Potter premium I received in conjunction with the last movie. If only it could fly...

The Last of the Harry Potter movies

It is sad that it has come to an end. A movie saga spanning 10 years. Of all the movies, I love the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The first for being a charming introduction, Goblet of Fire for the dragons and the blossoming of the characters and the last for its truly epic ending including the unravelling of Snape.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Textiles at People's Park

If you are looking for textiles in Singapore, the main place would be People's Park , a three storey building in Chinatown that has a whole second level of shops just selling textiles. There is no air-conditioning in the building which takes some getting used to for most people. However, I do feel very comfortable here as I have always been, even way back in the 70's while shopping with my mum. There have been so many changes in Singapore that it is getting increasingly difficult to find places that retain their original charm. What's more, it is so convenient to get to People's Park with the MRT just at its doorsteps. In the past, I used to take a bus with mum and would inevitably fall asleep during the long journey. These days, I still get carried away buying textiles and my favourites - pure linen and cotton voile. Cotton voile is one material that is so suitable for Singapore's humid climate and wearing it lightens my mood.

People's Park is also a favourite haunt of art and fashion design students as well as local designers. This is also the place that sells materials for Japanese arts and craft. Some shops carry a wide range of Japanese cotton with the most cute looking motiffs such as owls, red riding hood, dogs and cats, bird cages and more, materials suitable for handmade bags, dolls and fashion accessories. And if you need stuff such as buttons, zips and lace to complement your textiles, there are also a number of haberdasher shops in the same building. Besides Chinatown, other textile shops are found in Arab street where imported lace seems to be a specialty, Mustaffa Centre which sell predominantly chiffons for saris, Joo Chiat Complex in Geyland where Malay ladies love to shop for their baju kurung materials.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Mysterious Benedict Society

They say never judge a book by its cover but I must say this is really a lovely book, judging by its cover. I have not read it but since I bought my daughter the first book - the Mysterious Benedict Society, she has gone on to the sequel The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. It has one of the nicest book covers I 've seen in a long time with a quirky Lemony Snicket feel to it. And as the Harry Potter movie franchise comes to an end, this series of books might just be made into movies.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Movie Stars from the Dream Factory

Pictures taken from Twentieth Century Fox : Inside the Photo Archive

Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1954)

Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra (1963)

France Nuyen in Satan Never Sleeps (1962)

Doris Day in Move Over Darling (1963)

Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set (1957)

Shirley MacLaine in What a Way to Go (1964)

Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC (1966)

Shirley Temple (1937)

Betty Grable in My Blue Heaven (1950)

Joanne Woodward in The Many Faces of Eve (1959)

Paul Newman in From the Terrace (1960)

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton relaxing on the set of Cleopatra (1963)

Deborah Kerr and Geogory Peck in Beloved Infidel (1959)
Back at an event in 2005, I won a huge coffee table book called The Twentieth Century Fox : Inside the Photo Archive.It features images from iconic and some lesser known movies which are now placed in a state-of-the-art storage on the Pico Boulevard Lot in Los Angeles. Today, I happened to chance on it while clearing out some books on my shelf and enjoyed flipping through the pictures once again.

The early years were really the Golden Era of Hollywood and images of movie stars such as Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich, Susan Hayward, Gene Tierney, Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn and more were featured. Familiar names if you were a fan of old movies. My favourite image is that of Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra. She is seen twirling her hair in a bored yet quirky manner while Richard Burton looks on . I also love the outfit in the France Nuyen picture. This actress of French and Vietnameses descent made her name in The South Pacific (one of my dad's favourite movies) and the stage production of The World of Suzie Wong though the movie role eventually went to Nancy Kwan. Doesn't she look like the Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung in this picture ? Betty Grable, the number 1 pin-up girl for GIs during WW2, famous for her well proportioned legs. There is also Doris Day, the reigning star of romantic comedies in the 60's and she certainly looked tomboyish, fun and freckle faced back in those days. And who could forget Katharine Hepburn ? A strong feminist who defied public opinion to wear pants, something not accepted back then by society. This picture shows her in a wonderful spontaneous moment. These black and white pictures do have an enduring classic quality, both stylish and chic.