Arts & Entertainment, Photography, The organised chaos

Don’t look back

Orpheus melted the heart of Persephone,
But I never had yours
I followed you back to the end of the path
But I never found the door

And you can work to save your love
You can bear it from the earth below
You can work, but you can’t let go
Oh, oh but you have to know

Don’t look back, all you’ll ever get
Is the dust from the steps before
I don’t have to see you every day,
But I just want to know you’re there

Quietly took to the dark of the day
And the hiss of the summer night
The heat of the breeze was a cell block wall
And when I looked, you were out of sight

One of my favourite songs sung by one of my favourite actresses – Zooey Deschanel – and one of my favourite flowers in bloom (the other being calla).

The organised chaos

Happy Father’s Day

Last week, I was chatting with a colleague when she mentioned that she was going to be tied up on Sunday. I teased her about it, what could make her so busy on a Sunday?

It’s Father’s Day, she said. Don’t you need to celebrate too?

As a matter of fact, I don’t.

It’s been 23 years since I lost my father to a stroke. Most of the time, I don’t feel anything, we had lost him when I was little. Many Father’s Day(s) have come and gone without my noticing. But strangely enough, I felt it acutely this year.

My Mom tried her best to be both a father and a mother to us, she was literally my whole world when I was growing up. But looking back now, I think my life definitely lacked shape and colour without my father, and I hold what precious little memories I have of him to heart.

Like those times when I would lie on top on him like he was my armchair as we watch TV, him slumped on the sofa with his legs propped up on the coffee table. Or when he dried my hair after a shower and rubbed it so hard that I yelled out in pain and thought, Eh, he’s no Mommy. Or when he made fried rice for lunch and I politely took a few bites because it didn’t taste as good as Mommy’s food.

After all these years, I have come to realise that while Mom makes your world go round, it’s Papa who lights it up. You go to Mommy for everyday needs – when you are hungry, when you cut your finger while attempting to aslice up a watermelon, when you are sick and about to throw up, when you fall down and your knee is in shreds.

But Papa, oh, how magical are the moments you spend with him. Only Papa can make you feel special when he picks you up from school. When you see him and his little car parked in a parking lot across the road from your school, you’re so happy that you yell Hey Papa! You run to the little car and sit in the passenger seat, like a princess. And then he zips from one end of the carpark to the other…and you’ve reached home.

Nevermind that the ride was all of 30 seconds. It’s cool because Papa picked you up from school!

I’ve never thought much about missing my Papa. But suddenly, I do. Miss him, I mean. I’ve never been a Daddy’s girl and I never will be, and he wasn’t around to walk me down the aisle. I had to grow up a lot faster than my peers and be a lot more independent. It’s made me who I am today but truthfully, it sucked a whole lot when I was younger.

To all fathers, fathers-to-be and those hoping to be a father one day, I hope you had a great day on Sunday.

Love the mushroom hair and cheesy matching clothes
Two of Us

Sweet dreams

I’m not really a DIY person but this, I am very proud of.

I’ve been wanting to put up something on our vast and empty bedroom wall for a while now but those wooden letters that I see on Etsy are just too expensive for my liking. I love vintage wood, it’s hand carved, blah blah blah, but US$60 for a pop? Really? Nah.

Clever pants here decided to MAKE. HER. OWN. I popped down to Spotlight thinking I would pick up some wooden alphabets and form my own words but what do I see but words crafted out of papier mache? Laugh. Live. Dream. Angel. Mmm. I like. And each costs less than $6.

A can of spray paint was on sale at $4 so that went into the basket too. Of course, me being not at all artsy meant that I didn’t know if the paint suited papier mache. But it was cheap! That stingy attitude would come back and bite me in the ass but I’ll leave that for later.

And the result…

Romantic eh?

I thought spray painting would be easy peasy but boy, WAS I WRONG. The paint wouldn’t stay on the papier mache and all I had to show for at the end of a fume-ing experience was an uneven dream.

Oh well. I am lazy and look, nobody is ever going to look at this up close and personal except me and husband and he does not give a shit. Hmm, in fact, I don’t even know if he notices this at all. Anyhow, I decided that it was rustic and authentic to have it just sort of painted and didn’t bother touching up the paint.

I had lots of fun with the sign before putting it up so expect more dreamy pictures to appear soon.

Happy dreams!
Letters to

Of rainbows and unicorn

Dear Tiny Human,

Today, I’m going to tell you something about Life. It is a wonderful and yet disheartening thing, this Life, and there will be many lessons to learn along the way.

One thing you will most definitely realise is that life is not always smooth. There will be times when you are frustrated and things don’t seem to go your way. That’s Life for you, my lovely. It’s okay to cry, to complain about how unfair it all seems, to not want to get out of bed because you just cannot bear to face the world. It’s okay to do all that as long as you eventually brush the dirt from your knees and stand proud and tall once again.

Right now, I am feeling dejected and despondent because I don’t have you. It’s not fair that I can’t have a child while the whole world seems to be pregnant. It’s not fair that we need medical intervention when everyone seems to be able to conceive with ease.

But I can’t dwell on all this, the negativity will eat me up from inside. I can only smile, say a prayer to the big guy up there and hope for the best. I can only continue living my life, enjoying as much of the time your Dad and I have together as possible.

It’s not all gloom and doom, of course. We share many moments of pure, unadulterated joy and lots of laughter. We are a funny duo, your Dad and I. I hope we will be the sort of couple that you secretly admire and aspire to be part of.

So remember, Life will throw you a stinker once in a while. Get mad, get sad, but never lose sight of the bigger picture. Appreciate the rainbow and roses, and don’t get sucked into the pessimism. I wish someone had said all that to me before and I only hope that these words will provide you with some guiding light when you are feeling lost and lonely.

Love always,
Your Momma

The road is long
The organised chaos

I talk so all the time

Sometimes, it’s hard to be a grown-up.

Back then, whenever I felt down, I would skip classes and do something that would make me happy.
See a movie. Have ice-cream. Window-shop. Bury myself in a book. Snuggle under the covers.
Now, when I feel tired and weary, I have to put on my work hat and head to the office.
I say good morning, smile at the people I bump into in the lift, sit at my desk and turn on the computer.

There are good days and there are bad.
There are days when I feel positive and inspired.
And then there are days when I feel drab and lifeless.
I want to paint my life, colour it with hope and dreams and love and laughter.

But I know that this is life and it’s not always rosy and sweet.
There are times when I have to work a little harder to get to where I want to be.
And sometimes, I don’t even know if I will ever get there.
I tell myself to have faith and to live life gracefully in the meantime.

I may almost be 30 but I don’t have to benchmark my life against that age.
It’s okay if I still don’t get what I want to do by then.
It’s okay if my life is not all white houses and picket fences by then.
It’s okay if I don’t earn $X by then.
It’s okay if I don’t have a Chanel bag by then.
It’s okay if I am not my own boss by then.

It’s okay – I have a whole lifetime to figure it out.

(This familiar favourite has been on repeat mode)

Foodnotes

Happy meal #25: Ouefs en Cocotte

I did it! I finally cooked something from my Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook by the great Julia Child.

(By the way, did I tell you that I had bought the hard cover book for all of US$19? Score! It costs about S$70 in Pantry Magic.)

We had quite a lot of eggs sitting aimlessly in the fridge so an egg dish it was. And since I hadn’t put those new, cute heart-shaped Le Creuset ramekins I had gotten on sale to use, baked eggs it shall be. So one very fine Sunday morning – more like noon, really – I flopped out of bed, rather excitedly (and I NEVER get out of bed feeling excited), and plonked myself in the kitchen.

Of course, Miss Klutz here had to nearly ruin the meal by emptying the contents of a very hot, eggy ramekin onto the countertop. I was really pissed off with myself. In the past month, I had a) spilt Yakult all over myself and the sofa (it’s disgustingly sticky), b) dropped a can of hot, wet cat food all over the kitchen floor (looks like the can barfed) and c) smashed my plastic water bottle into smithereens in my kitchen.

Back to the eggs. Anyway, I had to redo the eggs quickly so that poor Mr Thick, who was as patient as he was hungry, wouldn’t starve to death.

Bain marie

Ignore my dirty stove. I used to clean it EVERY SINGLE WEEK and these days, I just cannot be bothered.

Baked eggs plus toast equals heavenly

Ouefs en Cocotte

What you need (per serving):

  • 1/2 tsp butter
  • 1 or 2 eggs (I used 1 egg + 1 white)
  • 2 tbsp whipping cream

Directions:
Butter the ramekin, saving a dot for later. Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of cream and set the ramekin in the simmering water over moderate heat. When the cream is hot, break into it one or two eggs. Pour the remaining spoonful of cream over the egg and top with a dot of butter.

Place in the middle level of the hot oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes. The eggs are done when they are just set but still tremble slightly in the ramekins. They will set a little more when the ramekins are removed, so they should not be overcooked.*

Salt and pepper

Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

(*) The ramekins may remain in the pan of hot water, out of the oven, for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. To prevent overcooking, remove eggs from oven when slightly underdone.

Voila!

With a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper
Foodnotes

Tea with friends

I finally had the chance to use the tea set that I had bought from the thrift shop. Invited a couple of friends over (or rather, they invited themselves!) and I baked two cakes to feed them.

The recipes were from Afternoon Tea by frankie magazine – which is one of the most gorgeous and beautifully styled cookbooks I have ever seen. When I was having tea with Dotz at k.ki, I had asked the owners of the little drom store to give me a call if ever they bring in the cook book. Imagine my surprise when they rang me up a month later to say that they had a couple of copies, would I like one? Zipped down to the store a week later and realised that they had reserved a copy for me. OVER THE MOON I WENT!

The plate says it all

The first cake my elves and I made was the Macadamia Beer Cake. It was an instant choice, my eyes wouldn’t budge from the word “beer”. We had a little mishap with this one – the recipe had called for one cup of beer (I used Chang beer) but Elf #2 had merrily emptied the entire can into the mixer by the time we remembered to read the recipe. I added more flour to even out the consistency and it turned out alright. Unfortunately, I had used a wider cake tin than was necessary so the cake came out of the tin a little stunted in the height area. Oh well, food is food, we devoured that cake pretty quick, accompanied by a pot of earl gray tea.

Tea with cake

By the time I started work on my second cake, the Lemon Hazelnut Syrup Loaf, both elves had abandoned me and moved off into the cooler living room. Tsk!

The so-called "loaf"

I know, you are thinking, Hmm, this does not look like a loaf. In fact, this does not look like anything good. Frankly, I was thinking the same. Well. I kind of didn’t grease my loaf pan before chucking the batter into it and this was the result: cake that clung on stubbornly to the pan. Bah. I had to scrape everything out.

BUT. It was fabulous! The loaf – or cake, really – was so light and fluffy, it was amazing. And I am not tooting my own horn.

Anyhow, if I ever start my own cafe, I should really call it Ugly Food.