Wednesday, December 31

where are you now?

Despite my oft-mentioned super hero ability of sleeping on airplanes, I didn't catch many winks during the red-eye flight to Osaka. I blearily tried to get my bearings at Shitennoji Temple, the first stop on our mega-packed itinerary and the oldest temple in Japan, and attempted a few weak photos. This was the only half decent one.

My travel companion and friend, photographer R, had tagged along not for the meagre per photo pay but because he had never been to Japan before.

I struggled out of my sneakers to change into slippers to climb up the pagoda. I struggled up what felt like 200 flights of steps. I struggled not to trip and fall on my way down.

As we wandered listlessly around the temple grounds, deserted except for a gaggle of Korean high schoolers, R turned to me and asked: "Where are you now?"

Bewildered and not a little sleep-deprived, I stared blankly at him while trying to come up with some deep philosophical answer, preferably with some Zen element to suit the raked sands we were contemplating.

"Ohhh-saaaa-kah!" he said with wide-eyed wonder.

Exhausted from greedily sucking in all the unfamiliar sights and sounds, R fell asleep on the subway. I followed suit not long after. (You can't see his palm, on which he had written "arigato" to remind himself not to thank people with "okinawa". Which he did at least once, to be met with very polite Japanese giggles.)

We were there to do a (near impossible) story about the Top 10 shopping spots with only two full days to cover all the places. In addition, we were to do "woman in the street" fashion shoots. We also had to grapple with inflexible stores which, strangely enough, did not want to be featured or told us we needed to apply for permission and come back never. No wonder I fell asleep on my feet.

Genpachi Mittera-ten, a hole-in-the-wall yakitori joint which only sits 12. Possibly the best food experience I've ever had in Japan, easily beating the exorbitant kaiseiki meal with interminable number of courses I once was subjected to.

Sizzling yakitori on a smokey charcoal grill, chilled plum sake, chain-smoking owner behind the bar, tipsy old men, elbow to elbow, great company. In between filling our stomachs with assorted chicken parts and squid, we asked each other, giddily: "Where are you now?" "Osaka!"

The outfit of Glico man cracks me up. The champion pose too. Where are you right now? (Yes, it never gets old, does it?)

Day Two of the whirlwind trip, in which we spent eight hours underground and didn't see sunlight or breathe fresh air. After getting thoroughly lost in four inter-connected labyrinth-like underground malls, we emerged like moles after hibernation (do they hibernate?) to find that it was already dark at 5pm.

I've always been fascinated by these standing bars full of baggy-suited salarymen slurping noodles or guzzling a mid-day beer, but felt that I would draw too much attention if I tried to go into one of these boys' clubs.

All too soon, we were at the end of the second and last night. A tree-lined avenue next to a small stream, in spring it is covered with cherry blossoms, in winter with fairy lights that cycle the spectrum of the rainbow in time to music. Much more magical than I can capture with my lousy night photography skills. You really have to be there. (Orchard Road with its silly candy hanging from trees looks like a garish teenager in a cheap dress in comparison.)

The next morning, as we stood in line at the airport to check in for our flight home, as sleep deprived as when we arrived, R asked: "Where are you now?" "Osaka!"

"Bye, Osaka!"

Sunday, December 28

wish list, revisited

Possibly the first Polaroid ever taken of me, circa 1979. Note the thumb in the bottom right corner which means it is 100% authentic.

First instant photo I shot with my new camera (see wish list).

One of my faves -- ferris wheel on my last day in Osaka.

The colours are a bit washed out, the success rate is at best 50% (I couldn't be bothered to scan in the duds) and, at about $1 a pop, not exactly cheap, but I heart my shiny new camera, even though I had to buy it off the wish list myself.

(But hint hint: My birthday is dangerously close, so that wish list may just come in useful after all!)

Tuesday, December 23

work in progress

Sorry, my dear loyal readers (yes, all three of you). I simply cannot stand my blog template any longer. I'm still tweaking though, so here's the bare bones version for now.

I detest the current header banner, but that will have to wait until I shoot a better photo that can be cropped into a skinny horizontal image.

Tuesday, December 16

the story of the jumper

Last Friday, Mousey, Mel and I went to the spa, followed by indulgent lunch at Sun With Moon, followed by obligatory shopping at Wheelock Place.

Mousey and I tried on a jumper at Bysi, which was priced at $99. We both loved it and, what was more, there was a 20% discount if we spent over $100 using a credit card from a certain bank.

However, we had gotten wind of a top secret sale at the studio of one of our favourite local designers, whose prices were usually prohibitive, but now supposedly as low as $10 (bluff one, we later realised).

Rationalising that we were going to splurge at the studio sale, Mousey convinced me to not buy the jumpers and to head to the sale at ulu Geylang instead.

A $11 cab ride later, we were in a grey flatted factory, flipping through four pathetic racks of clothes. Despite our best efforts, we could not find anything to buy. And believe me, we really tried.

"I think we have to go back to Bysi," Mousey whispered.

We figured the nearest one would be at Bugis -- thank god for its proliferation all over the island -- and headed there by train.

When we got there, we found that there were only three pieces left, and two were badly damaged, with snags and holes. It was a no go. We couldn't even buy just the good piece, as it was $1 below the required $100.

Dispirited, we trudged over to MOF -- Ministry of Food: kok name, extensive Japanese menu, not bad food -- for green tea and dessert.

After refueling, we decided to give those darn jumpers one last shot. (See, we really liked them and they were very extremely flattering and comfortable.) According to the Ah Lian at Bysi, there were two last pieces at Citylink Mall, and they would pass Mousey's eagle-eye test. (Me, I have sparrow eyes and can only spot glaring defects.)

Finally -- stay with me, there is a good ending to this long tale, I believe the cheem word to use is denouement -- at the last shop of the day, we found two not-that-badly-damaged jumpers. And they were at 40% off, just for that outlet and that day only. Clearly, those jumpers were meant to be.

(There is a moral to this story, but I'm not quite sure what it is.)

Wednesday, December 10

all i want for christmas

Brown boots, because I hate cold feet. They don't even need to be exactly this pair, Santa, because I know these aren't cheap and the economy is going down the toilet, even at the North Pole.

Pink Converse, because my white ones aren't girly enough.

ABC3D pop-up book, because the video completely charmed me.

Camera strap, from etsy, because the one which says "Minolta" just ain't cool.

A Year Of Mornings, because it is a beautiful book of photos I wish I had taken for a project I wished I had been a part of.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S, because I've always wanted an instant camera. Preferably with a year's supply of film, too.

iPhone, because, well, need I say more?

Origins Ginger Up Aromatic Shampoo and Conditioner, because I'm too cheap to buy my own shampoo.

Wednesday, December 3

not my cake, in case you were wondering

Ms Tay sent me the above photo, which coincidentally is from my current fave blog, Cake Wrecks.

Wednesday, November 19

on the shelf

Technically, not a bookshelf, I know, but I took this photo of the day in the office library, so it sort of counts, right?

Have you ever fallen for someone's... bookshelf? has a super cute tale about two book lovers who fell in love via a bookshelf.

I'll admit to poking around some guy's virtual bookshelf in FaceBook, crammed with Philip Roth, Anthony Burgess, VS Naipaul and lots and lots of Hemingway. Impressive, yes, but I also knew then that it was not meant to be (not that there was anything to be in the first place).

Having said that (hahaha, private joke at the expense of my student), finding a man who is literate is not an easy task, let alone one who is a voracious reader.

Not too surprisingly, the books on my (physical) shelf which garnered the most male interest have to be my musty yellowed copies of Lord of the Rings from prehistoric times (ie. before the movies were even a germ of an idea in Peter Jackson's head).

Much as I love to read, I'm unlikely to swoon over a guy's bookshelves, even if there is an entire section devoted to Murakami. Now, a cool photostream on the other hand, that is worth a thousand words.

Monday, November 17

better than shit

I think I busted a gut trying not to laugh out loud while watching these at work. It's like a game of Taboo, but using English to describe Chinese words. I know, it's very bad to laugh at people's poor language skills, but I can't help it.

Wednesday, October 22

mad hatter

On a trip to Ikea a couple of days ago, ostensibly to buy a photo frame but actually to eat the best chicken wings in the world, we found these felt hats, $9.90 each, in the kids' department.

The flower one was suitably potty, while the fruit one was clearly a basket case. But my favourite was the birthday cake with the candles and strawberries. I felt so happy my head could fit into it. What does this say about my mental age, though?

Tuesday, October 21

camera gear porn

There is actually a (mostly sad) story behind this standard photo of camera gear porn which you see so often on Flickr.

My dad's friend so generously gave me his entire old skool collection -- because he has stage IV cancer. I'm very very touched by his gesture.

Even though it hasn't been cheap, I have sent the Minolta and the 58mm lens for servicing (at the Camera Hospital -- yes, that's the shop name, and the "doctor" is a very helpful man), so I can shoot something nice to give to him.

Guess I'll be shooting film from now on (even though I've never owned a SLR, digital or otherwise, in my life and only have a vague idea which lens is good).

P.S. The Cosina Hi-Lite in the middle is actually my own, a cheap thrift-store find while in Vienna. It actually works!

Day 143 of Project 365

Wednesday, October 15

what i look at when pretending to work

People who are so dedicated to their Project 365 put me to shame. Tiagoribeiro popped a hell lot of popcorn, got two friends to get nekkid and then took his photo of the day.

I'm so in awe of the creativity of the photographer behind Type The Sky. I never saw the negative spaces between buildings as letters before this. Brilliant!

There's a whole bunch of people doing this transparent screen thing, which makes me think, "So clever!", followed by "How difficult can it be? I also can do!" Watch me eat my words.


My sis the Hello Kitty fan very kindly loaned me her handphone charm -- currently not in use -- after my beloved squishy Doraemon one broke.

When you press the "chimney", a cuckoo bird pops out from the clock. I was instructed not to press it more than once a day, "wait it spoil".

During lunch today, I was idly playing with it when I realised it was stuck. No action whatsoever no matter how hard I depressed the little chimney. Die lah, I make spoil.

In a panic -- my sis was gonna eviscerate me -- I blurted out: "My cuckoo won't come out anymore!"

Luckily, I'm not a guy. But that didn't stop my lunch kakis from laughing for a good five minutes.

Monday, October 13

just an illusion

"I could go back and google how the trick was done. But I won't. Let it remain as magic"
-- R in the car at the end of the night

Saturday night. It was K's 47th birthday dinner-cum-drinks. (Has it been one year already?)

We stuffed ourselves silly at Beng Hiang Restaurant. I secretly thought that two suckling pigs were a tad excessive (for 12 carnivores, 1 vegetarian and 1 baby). I was wrong. We crunched every last piece of crispy skin and fat. To my horror, I later realised the suckling pig cost $180. Each.

After six raucous rounds of bilingual Happy Birthday songs -- the restaurant is popular for such celebratory events -- we adjourned to Bar 84 for drinks.

It was exactly how I imagined a jazz bar from one of Haruki Murakami's novels would be like -- tucked away from those not in the know with misleading signage to add to the confusion, understated lighting and decor, nothing too plush, unobtrusive music and waitresses, meticulously prepared mojitos which took 20 minutes to arrive and were topped with mint leaves sprinkled with icing sugar to look like freshly fallen snow. The fact that it was owned by a Japanese man who also performed magic tricks might have had something to do with it.

There were the run-of-the-mill sleight-of-hand tricks, which felt slightly old-fashioned compared to the likes of David Blaine and Criss Angel, but I liked them precisely because they were classics. Coins mysteriously appearing and disappearing. Rubber bands that stretched alarmingly then passed right through each other. And many many "pick a card, any card" type of tricks.

For the grand finale, three of us -- J, K and I -- each picked a card. We were instructed, in charmingly broken and slyly flirtatious English, to write various personal details on the card, mine being my name, the date and my (incomplete) address.

J's card disappeared from the deck and reappeared in a wooden box, folded into a little rectangle. Mine was found in the magician's wallet in a sealed Japanese red packet.

But the most amazing one was K's. He was instructed to pick one lemon out of three from the bar fridge, then cut it open with a knife. No prizes for guessing what was found, rolled up and marinated in lemon juice, inside.

It was one of the oldest tricks in the book, but to me, it was pure magic.

"The magician teaches us that romance lies in an unstable contest of minds that leaves us knowing it’s a trick but not which one it is, and being impressed by the other person’s ability to let the trickery go on."
-- The Real Work, by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

Monday, October 6

free books

This is art? More like a tasteless prank to me.

Free Books by Eric Doeringer (obviously not a book lover) is part of Art In Odd Places, an art project in New York.

From its website:

A box of books labeled "Free Books" is deposited at various 14th Street locations. A seeming act of generosity, the artist has removed the last few pages from each book. The alteration will only become apparent to the reader after he or she has nearly finished the book, converting the cast-off into a statement of art.

In other news, I've been back from my little Austria trip for weeks but am too lazy/busy to write or post anything here.

Friday, September 5

mini me me me

On a slow day at work, my love for all things miniature and crafty collides with my vain and vapid self, and I decide to make mini Zann standees using colour printouts of my photos, some glue and tape, and paperclips (do I sound like MacGyver or what).

Yes, it's narcissistic, but at least it's on a small scale. (It's also misuse of office supplies, but ssshhh...)

P.S. This photo is taken on Day 101 of Project 365. I am still slightly in disbelief that I have made it almost one-third through.)

P.P.S. I am so procrastinating. I'd rather blog than mark my students' assignments. Kuluolan!

Saturday, August 30

nine seconds

I read this quite a few days ago, but it's stayed with me. There's something wrong and I can't seem to link directly to the blog post on Dooce, so here it is:

Last night was the sixth anniversary of the evening Jon and I stood on a cliff in Yosemite National Park and vowed to give each other shit for the rest of our lives. This weekend that we have spent in San Francisco at a three-day music festival was planned at the last moment, and it was something we thought would appropriately commemorate this anniversary. He and I met at a music festival in Utah in 1997. He was married to someone else at the time, and I knew this, respected this, had heard stories about him from some of his close friends, but I couldn't help falling in love with him on that very hot summer afternoon. And he was totally oblivious.

Yesterday morning I was thinking about all of that, how it's a miracle and a blessing that even though I knew there was no hope and had given up on the idea of Jon Armstrong, had moved on with my life, had said to myself that I could settle for someone else, that here we are, six years later, knocking each other in the head every night with our twin skinny elbows and knees.

We've spent the last three days running around Golden Gate Park with two heavy professional cameras, one that we rented on a whim the first morning we got here, taking photos of some of the bands whose music has been the soundtrack to our lives together. Last night when it was all over and we were back at the hotel sipping cocktails on the roof overlooking the city we couldn't believe what we've lived through in six short years together: unemployment and moving into my mother's basement to owning our first house, a kitchen remodel, pregnancy, postpartum depression, physical and occupational therapy on our child, hoping and waiting to see if she would ever walk, two MRIs, starting our own business, getting sued by a publishing company, marriage counseling, skin cancer, traveling all over the country, to Canada, to Europe, adopting a dog who eats her own poop, and several deaths in the extended family. We made it through it all. And it wasn't easy, there were times when both of us didn't know if we were going to make it but loved each other enough that we were willing to try.

My friend Leona gave me some really profound advice last night as we were talking about how much better our thirties are compared to our twenties. She said, "No matter what horrible thing you're going through, when it's all over it only takes three seconds to sum it up. Remember that."

I lost my mind, got some help, and then I found it again.

We thought we were going to lose our house trying to pay legal fees. Thankfully, it didn't work out that way.

My dog likes to pee all over the house. I thought I might kill her, but I didn't.

Once I threw my keys at my husband's head because I thought he didn't understand. He didn't leave me.

My daughter wouldn't put any weight on her legs, and the doctors said she might not ever walk. They were wrong, and now she runs.

I am very much looking forward to the morning six years from now when he and I are taking a few moments before the chaos of the day consumes us, and we can look back and talk in three-second sentences.

Summing up my life in three three-second sentences:

I was bedridden for three months but now I can run. In heels.

I lived in a house filled with the stink of cat pee. It's been replaced by a faint doggie aroma.

I found someone who made me laugh. I learnt to let him go.

Wednesday, August 20

supersize me

My love for miniatures is well documented. But did you know I also have a thing over supersized objects (asides from McDonald's meals)? If only I had the space (and money!) to own this sculpture by Robert Therrien.

The above is not really related, but it's from a New Yorker piece that I always recall on long elevator rides. The story is about the longest smoke break, which lasted a harrowing 41 hours due to an elevator malfunction.

P.S. More riveting chatter between my twin and I here.

Sunday, August 17

tony's wedding

The Merry Black Widow Party celebrates Tony Leung's recent Wedding of the Year.

C is visibly upset that Tony is finally off the market.

J wears a strangely sultry look.

W wears the dress (with cleavage) bought especially for Tony.

Zann seems only interested in dessert. Tony who?

doom dee ya dah

Another minute of a lazy Sunday. I love Discovery Channel.


A fun way to spend 15 minutes on a lazy Sunday. Face Your Manga and pick and choose your features to see what you think you look like.

Wednesday, August 6

miss popularity runner-up

The results are out. I'm the runner-up for the popularity contest.

I'd like to thank my father, my mother, my sister and all my adoring fans who voted for me. Thank you, thank you, I love you all so much.

[I showed my entry to my mom, who hadn't seen the photo before, and she said: "Like that also can win second prize ah?"]


I suddenly remembered this drunken conversation I had on a cab ride in Hong Kong with two other fashion writers, all single, who were giggling over photos of teenaged male models on an iPhone.

FASHION WRITER A: Theeeeees one sooooo cute!
FASHION WRITER B: Aiyoh, they are sooooo young. Young enough to be our chewren!
ME: (Giggle)
FASHION WRITER B (the most drunk one): Why this industry so many cao ah gua? Otherwise we would have chewren already...
EVERYONE: (Silence)

Then we arrived back at the hotel and staggered to bed, leaving behind all thoughts about the chewren we could have had.

inane chatter part 451

MY TWIN: it drives me absolutely crazy when my colleague prints out something and doesn't arrange the papers nicely so that all the edges align before she staples them together. like what, will it take you 1 second to just make sure all the edges align?!? isn't that a sign of a slopppy mind??!?1 or am i mad? Hahaha
ME: it drives me mad too!!!!!!!
MY TWIN: twins!!!!!!!
ME: or when people anyhow fold papers, not exactly in half! i feel an attack of hives coming on just thinking about it!
MY TWIN: yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! muahahahahahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahaha please blog this! or i will, after i clear my backlog
ME: hahahahahahaha ok blog about the cockles and karma*, i blog this
MY TWIN: muahahahahahhh ok!!!! wah, now we are like airlines, you know, doing codesharing
ME: when i see people folding corners of their books to mark their pages, i die a little inside
MY TWIN: yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ME: and if someone does it to MY BOOK...DEATH TO YOU! our friendship is OVER!
MY TWIN: or people who rip pages out from library books! especially recipe books! then i hope their cooking attempts failed
ME: i just had a thought last night, looking at my PRISTINE cook books...that maybe i should photocopy those pages i feel like cooking, so i won't dirty it
MY TWIN: that makes perfect sense!!!
ME: somemore, those blasted cookbooks can never stay opened on the page you want!
MY TWIN: ya!!!!!!!!
ME: but we're not that bad lah, i've heard of urban legends of people who have to iron their newspapers before reading
MY TWIN: muahahahahhhahahhhahahahahahahahhahahahahahah anal!!!!!!!!!!!!
ME: does your husband do that???
MY TWIN: thankfully no! in fact, he leaves the papers in a mess after he reads them, and that drives me crazy too! all the pages are misaligned, so the papers don't fold properly in the middle! i hate it! hahahahha
ME: oh i hate it too! my mom does that! my dad and sis are as neat as me!
MY TWIN: hahhahahahhahah

This is what my twin and I prattle on about when we're bored at work. I'm so glad she's back from Hawaii, because, really, who else can muahahahahahhahahahahahha as well as me?

* Cockles and karma were the highlight of inane chatter part 450.

Monday, August 4

fashion victim

This is too hilarious not to share (I've also posted it on the Swirl Girls blog).

Christy (one of my elves) was watching some Mandarin programme on TV some time ago, in which Chen Hanwei (actor-turned-host-cum-stylist) and his guests comment on the dressing on people secretly filmed on the streets. One of his guests was David Gan (also known as the celebrity hairstylist who gives Zhang Ziyi her comb-overs).

Anyway, Christy spotted someone who was wearing this exact outfit (with better pixelation of the face, since I do not have Photoshop) who was being rubbished on national TV by Chen and Gan.

I believe they exclaimed over how unflattering my haircut was and how round it made my face look. Unfortunately, they stopped short of giving any useful advice on what sort of hairstyle would suit my moon face. Drats.

addicted to pain

So. My neck and shoulder aches have been getting worse [probably from lying right on the edge of the bed trying not to elbow or kick the other two occupants], so I called the tui na centre.

ME: Hello, I'd like to make an appointment on Sunday with Mindy* please.
RECEPTIONIST: Oh, Mindy is away until the end of the month.
ME: Ah! Is there anyone else who is as good as Mindy?
ME: Errr...ok, I'll call again when Mindy is back.

* Say her name with a cheena accent, like meeeen-deeee.


I was tossing and turning fitfully last night, unable to sleep, because the bed was too small for three [long story, my sis and my dog are now sharing my bed], when I suddenly remembered an ex-colleague telling me something sort of related to the post below about the swastika.

I was about to go on a backpacking trip to Japan and all excited about it when he told me, coldly: "I would never go to Japan. I will never forgive the Japanese for World War II."

He was the same age as me, mind you, not some war veteran.

Thursday, July 31

only if you have time

Vicky got a tattoo.

There are over 800 comments (and 65,000 views) to this photo on Flickr, most of them so completely clueless it's almost painful. Yet I couldn't stop reading them.

I think I want to marry the photographer, she's brilliant.

Wednesday, July 30

too perfect theory

When I start reading something -- a book, a magazine, an article, a cereal box -- I am compelled to read every word until the end. Which explains why I seldom read The New Yorker, even though I have it on my Bloglines, which, to sidetrack a bit, is the best thing to happen to my blog-reading habit (I read 62 blogs on a near-daily basis). The articles are simply too long and headache-inducing to wade through on screen.

But today, I got sucked in to an 11-page piece (yes, 11 whole pages with little paragraphing), The Real Work (by Adam Gopnik), about modern magicians and the meaning of life.

Towards the end, he wrote about what mindful magicians called the Too Perfect theory, which I understand to be the belief that when a trick is too perfect, it ceases to be believable.

"But the Too Perfect theory has larger meanings, too. It reminds us that, whatever the context, the empathetic interchange between minds is satisfying only when it is “dynamic,” unfinished, unresolved. Friendships, flirtations, even love affairs depend, like magic tricks, on a constant exchange of incomplete but tantalizing information. We are always reducing the claim or raising the proof. The magician teaches us that romance lies in an unstable contest of minds that leaves us knowing it’s a trick but not which one it is, and being impressed by the other person’s ability to let the trickery go on. Frauds master our minds; magicians, like poets and lovers, engage them in a permanent maze of possibilities. The trick is to renew the possibilities, to keep them from becoming schematized, to let them be imperfect, and the question between us is always “Who’s the magician?” When we say that love is magic, we are telling a truth deeper, and more ambiguous, than we know."

This appeals to the imperfectionist in me.

no lah

So there I was, striding purposefully along Central on my (n+1)th trip to Hong Kong, when an angmoh stopped me.

"Excuse me, do you know if there is a sporting goods store nearby?" he asked in an American drawl.

"Sorry, I'm not from around here," I replied. I gave a weak smile to make up for not even bothering to think if there were any around, and started to move away. H&M was waiting for me.

"You're from Singapore, aren't you?" he said, stopping me in tracks.

Is my Singlish so jialat that he could make out my nationality in fewer than 10 words? And should I be proud to be so easily identifiable as Singaporean or should I be appalled that my accent is not as neutral as I perceived?


A few days later, I was at a celebrity-spotting type of gala event -- they were sequestered away from us common folks on special mezzanine floors -- and wandering around the cavernous tent looking for photo ops.

After a few half-hearted snaps -- due to suckage at night photography -- I found a spot by the bar where I could take my fashion diary photo. A guy in all black with a heavy duty camera and zoom lens ambled by, presumably a photographer. He didn't look too busy so I asked him if he could help me take a photo.

The first thing he said to me after he returned me my toy camera?

"Are you from Singapore?"

Turned out he was Singaporean too and had been working in Hong Kong for seven years. He joined our little group, and was even reunited with a long-lost friend.

A few days after I left, he very kindly sent an email with more photos of the party and tips on where to shop on future trips -- a case where Singlish comes in handy.


When I related this anecdote to a friend, her face immediately lit up.

Before she could even sputter out the words in her excitement, I quickly burst her bubble: "He's gay. He moved to Hong Kong to be with his boyfriend."

In a sort of related story, a longer while ago, when my dog ran away from home -- somehow managing to open the gate, get out AND shut it behind him -- he invaded the house of my angmoh neighbour one street away.

He called me -- thank god for phone numbers on dog tags -- and assured me he would take care of the runaway canine as I was still at work.

When I finally stopped panicking, I told a colleague I had to go home and collect my dog from the kind neighbour.

She was strangely deflated when I told her that his wife was afraid of dogs: "Oh, there is a wife. I thought this would be one of those stories where you meet someone because your dog ran away."

Tuesday, July 29

bear hugs out, lion hugs in

I dare you to watch this and not at least tear up a little.

Going to hug my doggie now, even though he doesn't know how to reciprocate (the closest he knows to hugging is humping).

Monday, July 28

cupcakes take the cake

Had an inexplicable craving for Magnolia Bakery's diabetes-inducing cupcakes last week and made a batch on Sunday to satisfy my sweet tooth. I also had some heavenly vanilla pods -- a gift from Bali -- which I was dying to use.

I found the recipes for the vanilla cupcake and vanilla buttercream frosting easily online, but reduced the scary amounts of sugar by half for both the cupcakes and the frosting. No harm done to the final product, I feel.

What did hurt the cupcakes was refrigeration, which I discovered the next morning. The cupcakes became rather dense and damp, and the buttercream no longer light and fluffy.

Then I went to the Magnolia Bakery website and saw this fine print: Never refrigerate or freeze your Magnolia Cupcakes. Darn.

Wednesday, July 23

last-minute appeal

Voting closes in less than 24 hours, peeps! (See previous post on how to vote for my pitiful photo which, according to the PR girl from the company who called me, hasn't even had enough votes to make it to the Top 3.)

So I've been begging friends and colleagues to vote for me, my sis to put an appeal on her blog to garner more votes and nagging on my Facebook status updates, all in a bid to beat the "one-armed boy paddling down the raging river in a bath tub and did I mention he has only one arm" photo, which I regard as my closest competitor.

One traitorous colleague wanted to vote for it -- despite my protests -- because "he needs a helping hand".

Please remember, I am the one who needs help here, ok?

Thanks thanks!

Thursday, July 17

family outing

This is a shameless appeal. I'm taking part in this photo competition and need all the votes I can get.

Please go to, click on photos, then vote for this one.

This is my first ever attempt at a photo competition (although it seems more like a popularity contest with the online voting), so fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 3

romper room

I'd always wanted a romper, but all the more so after I saw how fun and versatile -- and slimming! -- it was on Sally-Jane Vintage, where she has four looks for it. How I kicked myself for not getting it when I saw it in Urban Outfitters when I was in New York the last time.

So I decided to trawl eBay for some vintage ones. Keyword search "romper" turned up too many baby clothes, so I tried "adult romper".

This was what turned up:

Photo courtesy of Pipineni's Adult-Baby-Shop.

eBay is a strange and wonderful place where you can learn many things.

Sunday, June 22

bake a cake

So, more than a month ago, after my sissy and I bought our mom an oven, I gathered the ingredients to make Sylvia Tan's flourless chocolate cake. It's a fail-proof recipe -- if you heed her warning towards the end -- I've used many times before which is 10 years old and I finally found time to bake it today.

It calls for nine eggs, separated into yolks and whites.

A bag of Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips and one-and-half blocks of butter (not pictured because they look even worse than the chocolate chips, which also look quite bad).

Whip the egg whites first into stiff peaks (again, bad photo, so that step is not shown) and set aside. Then, in a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks.

Add one and half cups of caster sugar and mix well.

Oh yes, in the meantime, melt the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for about four minutes and let the unphotogenic mixture cool. Then add it to the egg yolks and sugar and mix well. Last step is to fold in the egg whites.

Bake in the middle of a 160 deg C oven for 50 minutes in a lined baking tin. Do not, I repeat, do not remove the confection from the oven when it goes ding, no matter how awesome the smell is. Let the cake cool completely, or you will end up with a squidgy texture inside (which is what happened to us).

See where the cake has sort of collapsed onto itself and formed some sort of muffin top? It isn't very pretty. But it sure is yummy!

(I wish I have more patience and time to style the ingredients and final product with colourful plates, flowers, placemats, etc. But we just really wanted to dig in after all that hard work.)

In non-domestic-goddess-wannabe-related news, I finally could not stand not being able to turn my head to the left (due to a stiff neck and tense shoulder) any longer, and went for tui na after putting it off for months.

Not 10 minutes into the torture, I was moaning, "Hen tong!" to the therapist and tears were streaming down my cheeks.

More than nine hours later now, my back and neck feel like a gang of gangsters had beaten me with big sticks -- instead of one unarmed Chinese woman with very strong fingers and elbows.

I've signed up for nine more torture sessions. It hurt so good.