Friday's Feast #137

Friday, March 30, 2007

What are you proud of?

My self-reliant, independent and never-say-die spirit.

What is the best thing you’ve ever won as a prize?

Hmm, the 5 tubs of Ben & Jerry's ice cream recently?

Name something you do that is a waste of time.

Poring over sales catalogues of everything.

Main Course
In what year of your life did you change the most?

I changed drastically twice: when I was 20 and then again at 26.

Where is a place you consider to be very tranquil?

My bathroom and bedroom.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 9:51 am

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That's As Close...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

... as you'll get in terms of my mug shot. Anything more you'll have to meet me face to face. *Haha*


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 7:31 pm

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Happy Feet

Last week I spoke about the horrid cold and wet weather. Well, this week, Mother Nature must've taken pity on us and the weather did a three-sixty. It's been wonderful so far - full on sunshine, temperature in the mid teens, air is cool, birds are chirping. Even my squirrels have returned to scavange leftover bread from the bird table we have in the backyard. Spring is definitely in the air.

This sudden burst of sunshine also made me notice my very dirty patio glass doors and various windows in the house. One of these days, I will need to give them a good scrub to remove the winter grime. But today is not that day.

Today was the day my ankles and calves greeted the world after months of being encased in leather boots. After much deliberation, I decided on these lovelies to greet spring with. They are fairly new; having been worn about twice, I think.

And no, I didn't have anywhere special to go, no appointments to keep. Just walking my son to and from school and picking up a couple of groceries, that's all. So yes, I know I'm overdressed but what the heck, they make me happy. It not like I'm wearing my Stuart Weitzman evening shoes or sandals to the supermarket. Now, that would be too much.

Oh, and the shoes come with a matching purse too. I just love suede. They are a horror to maintain, especially the lighter tones but they look so casually chic and understated. Effortless is the word I want.

So, that was my day. Happy, happy, happy.

But seriously, shoes aside, I am happy. I feel I am where I want to be in life and am grateful for all the good things that's happened so far. However, I have made new goals and am very excited about reaching them in the next couple of years. The best part is, I know they are completely attainable - it's just a matter of me reaching out for them.


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His Royal Highness

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Three times a year, all parents of my son's primary school troop down to discuss their child's progress with their respective form teacher. Also thrown in is a sneak peak at their pride and joy's report book.

Yesterday was our turn. In a nutshell, our son did well academically, pulling As and Bs. Which made us very happy of course seeing how we don't exactly push him very hard at home. He's only seven and in my opinion, still allowed to have a bit of childhood. I probably have to push him and be more strict when he starts bringing back homework next year. Till then, we're still on relaxed mode.

Then came the social and personal growth evaluation. Our son mixes very well with his peers. That made us happy too. We were also told he is very good and sweet natured. That made us even happier. Then the form teacher commented he has a very stubborn streak and wanted to know which of us were responsible for that. Jokingly of course. And jokingly my husband replied, "The both of us." I mentally gave him a kick on the shin.

It seems that a few weeks ago, the class had some kind of experiment going on in the playground. They had to measure something or other and when it was time to pick up their rulers off the ground, my son (yes, him of the sweet nature) flat out refused to do it. As in totally, unequivocally refused. No amount of telling or ordering would budge him. In the end, he earned himself detention during play-time.

His reason: "But if I pick it up, my hands will get dirty!"


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Lords Of The Ring

I was trawling the cable movie channels to see what was on later that evening. To my absolute glee, I saw it was "Lords Of The Ring". Now, I'm a LOTR fan, owning Tolkein's 2 books of the same title (one in paperback and the other, a leather bound collector's edition) and watching my DVDs front to back, back to front and then again. It's up there with Star Wars.

Anyway, I regarded the movie title abit suspiciously. It's supposed to be Lord Of The Rings and not Lords Of The Ring.

Probably a typo, I said to myself.

Until I saw the movie description which read: Gay erotic.


I see.


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Stuffed Sotong Soup

Friday, March 23, 2007

I've been wanting to make this old Nyonya favourite for the longest time. However, I was missing one key ingredient - the sotong (Malay for squid). In it's entire unmolested form. I don't know why Dutch supermarkets have this penchant for cleaning, precooking and chopping up their seafood into neat little packages. Some of us like it as is you know.

So, no sotong, no soup. I mean, come on, it's like an American hamburger without the beef patty or a hotdog without the sausage.

Anyway, all was not lost when on my last trip to the asian store, I chanced upon frozen raw sotong. In its virginal state, ie, head, tentacles and ink sac. Heavens to Murgatroyd, even the skin was still on. Phoawrrr! Never mind the price, in went the 1kg box. Yup, thinking with my tummy as usual. *blush*

I only got the opportunity to use them yesterday. You see, I made Sar Po Fan (Claypot Rice) on Monday and finally finished the lot on Wednesday. After 3 days of intense carbo, I was itching for something soupy.

I made a modified version for my son. He didn't want to have anything to do with the tung hoon (mung bean noodles) because "Yuck, mommy! You're eating plastic!". He got put off by the sotong too (he's more comfortable with them in the form of calamari rings) so his portion consisted of meatballs and fresh egg noodles.

We both enjoyed our broth so much I'm doing an encore tonight. Can hardly wait. I feel hungry already. *patting tummy*

Here is the recipe:

Stuffed Sotong Soup

You need:

500g medium sized sotong (squid)
2 cloves garlic, minced
oil for frying
100g tung hoon (mung bean noodles) or as desired
800ml water
1.5 cube chicken stock
pinch of pepper


200g minced pork
3 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp corn flour
pinch of salt
dash of pepper


1 spring onion, dice
1 sprig coriander (Chinese parsley)


  1. Remove the head, tentacles, quill, inc sac and intestines from the sotong. Discard everything but save heads and tentacles.
  2. Pull off reddish-brown skin from the squid and discard. Rinse and set aside.
  3. Soak tung hoon in water until soft. Drain well.

How To:

  1. Heat oil in a pot, add the garlic. Stir fry until golden brown. Remove fried garlic, leaving oil in the pot.
  2. Prepare the stuffing. In a small bowl, add fried garlic to the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Knead well until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Fill the squid with stuffing.
  4. Form small meatballs with remaining stuffing.
  5. Add water to the pot with garlic oil.
  6. Bring to the boil, then add stuffed sotong, meatballs and tentacles saved earlier on. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the glass noodles. Simmer for another 3 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Turn off flame, garnish with diced spring onion and coriander. Serve hot with a side of soya sauce and sliced fresh chilli.


  1. You may re-attach the sotong heads after stuffing it with pork and boil it as a whole.
  2. When stuffing the sotong tubes, make sure it's only about 2/3 full. Any more than that, you risk having the stuffing ooze out during boiling, resembling certain bodily functions (sotong contracts when cooked, you do the math) Not a pretty sight I assure you. Consider yourself warned. *wink*

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And Now, On To The Weather

Thursday, March 22, 2007

You know, growing up and living most of my adult life in Singapore, I never bothered about weather forecasts. I mean, we Singaporeans know that there are only 3 main seasons on the island - hot and dry season, monsoon season and sale season (which tend to last all year round).

However, since moving to Europe, I've been obsessed with weather reports. I must at least know what we're in for the next day, if not the entire week. Do I huddle up in my winter coat and scarves or do I pull out my cute lightweight trenchcoat and banish my boots into the cold palace?

The weather also dictates my agenda for the day. If it's bad weather, I reschedule errands or appointments where possible. That is what happens when one stubbornly refuses to learn how to drive. You are at the mercy of public transport and of course, the weather.

Which brings me to this. It's officially Spring now. In keeping with tradition, the weather has been really wonky. No, I mean really. Starting Sunday, we've had rain, light hail ( ice the size of packing styrofoam pellets), and blinding sunshine (a whopping 30 mins each day). All in a day, everyday. We even had snow. On Monday, we woke up to a world, white as can be. My son was crazy with joy of course and for once, I didn't have to hustle him out the door to be on time for school.

Today at 40C, is rainy and cold. Forecasts have it that it'll be like this throughout the week so I guess I still have to hang on to those winter coats for a bit longer.

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Ms Smarty Pants

I've finally figured out the HTML script-code-thingamajiggy-whatever-you-call-it for the no right-click function whereby you (not you, you as in the general public) can steal save images posted on my blogs into their personal folders. I know my photos will never win the National Geographic prize but they are mine and mine alone. And I want to keep it that way.

I still hate HTML.

All Greek I say! Greek!


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What Kind Of Intelligence Do You Have?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Your Dominant Intelligence is Spatial Intelligence

You've got a good sense of space and how the world around you looks.
You can close your eyes and "see" images. You have innate artistic talent.
An eye for color and shapes, you're also a natural designer.
Since you think in pictures, visual aids and demonstrations help you learn best.

You would make a good navigator, sculptor, visual artist, inventor, architect, interior designer, or engineer.

"Since you think in pictures, visual aids and demonstrations help you learn best."

That is so true! I hate lengthy worded instructions, it takes up too much time and makes me lose patience. Just show me a picture and I 'get it' straightaway.


The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:03 pm

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What Kind Of Cake Are You?

You Are an Ice Cream Cake

Surprising, unique, and high maintenance.
You're one of a kind, and you don't want anyone to forget it.
You're fun in small doses, but it's easy for people to overdose on you!

I knew it! I luuuuuurve ice-cream cake!


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Nostalgia In A Pod

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

As a child growing up in late 70s & early 80s Singapore, one of the highlights would be the occasional trip to the cinema. It was usually a Walt Disney cartoon film. If I'm not mistaken, the very first movie our parents took my younger sister and I to was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves".

Sure we were excited at the prospect of watching the movie. However, equally anticipated was the kacang putih my dad would invariably buy for the each of us. Kacang putih is Malay for white peas or beans. In those days, they were sold in paper cones made from torn out pages of the phone directory.

So the usual routine would go like this: Dad will go buy the tickets and then we'd all head over to the kacang putih stall, which is actually a pushcart. Atop the pushcart would be small sacks of various nuts, beans or peas, roasted, steamed, sugar coated, salted, you name it. You make your pick, and the kacang putih man, usually an Indian, would then fill up an empty paper cone to the brim with whatever you've chosen. My sister always picked the white sugar coated ones while I had this thing for steamed chickpeas. We would then proceed on into the theatre, clutching our precious bundles very carefully. Once seated, we would nibble on them slowly to make it last the entire movie.

Nowadays, when my husband and I take our son to the movies, I see him going through the same thing when we buy him his popcorn and coke. He, too, would sip and eat very slowly, stretching the portion, just like his Mom did many moons ago.

The reason why I brought this up was because this afternoon, I was in need of some childhood comfort food. My husband's away and well, I miss him and have been moping all morning. I don't usually mope and I am used to him travelling of course. So really, this is not normal for me. I'm blaming my PMS hormones. Come to think of it, it's wise of my husband not to be around within missile firing range of me this week. *evil cackle*

Anyway, I poked around the kitchen and found a tin of chickpeas I bought from the Turkish grocer last week. I emptied the contents in a bowl, sprinkled some salt and sugar and steamed it for about 10 minutes. I then let it cool for a bit before taking the whole lot into the living room, just in time for the screening of "Star Wars IV: A New Hope" on cable. I must've seen that movie (as well as the others in the series) at least 6 times but it still does it for me each time. I'm a very big fan of Star Wars.

So that's how I nursed my blues: with a bowl of chickpeas and a movie. Initially, I had this mad idea of tearing a page out of our phone book to make paper cones to hold the chickpeas. Just to recreate that childhood feeling and all. However, the adult in me warned of unknown germs and chemicals from the ink of the print text. Damn! Sometimes ignorance is truly blissful.

But no matter, for the following two hours, I was seven again. When the movie ended, I peeled myself off the couch, smoothed out my hair and clothes and went out to pick up my own seven year from school.


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Having Loads Of Fun, Wish You Were Here. XXOO, Dutchess.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's amazing the way time flies. Exactly a month ago we were in Benidorm, enjoying the beach, the sights, the shopping and of course, the food. Especially the food, but we'll get to that later.

Back in the '50s, Benidorm, was a small fishing village in the region of Alicante, on the Costa Blanca. Over the years, people from all over Europe started flocking to it because of its excellent weather and beaches. Thanks to the mountains acting as a windbreaker, the winters there are very mild. And that's why we were there, to catch a bit of winter sun. It wasn't pool or beach weather but still very pleasant to stroll up and down the boulevard by the beach. All 5km of it. With them come restaurants, bars, supermarkets and shops ensuring your tummy, eyes and purse stay very busy.

There are 2 beaches: Levante and Poniente - Spanish for sunrise and sunset. I thought they were apt names. I didn't witness the sunrise (I'm not a morning person, especially not on holiday) but the sunsets were something else. I don't know why, but sunsets always seem all the more spectacular when viewed from a beach horizon. To me at least.

Another spectacular beach sight was this:

We chanced upon it on the second day strolling where these 2 guys were working on the base and 1.5 head. They were really going for it, with pails, tools and what not. They even had some sort of water supply going, to keep the sand moist and compact. I think they were trying to fashion the 12 apostles, it being the season of Lent. Perhaps the Last Supper? Anyway, for the entire week we were there, we'd make a point to mosey down the sand sculpture to track its progress and toss some euros in the collection area.

When we got tired from walking, usually every 2 hours or so - hey, relaxing is such thirsty work, don't you know - we'd make a pit stop at one of the many watering holes. One such place is the Ku Life Cafe and Lounge. (I don't get the Ku Life bit either but no matter)

Water for me, Sprite for the boy and Tia Maria with coffee for the husband and in-laws. Yes, my husband's parents were with us on holiday too. As a general rule, my husband and I are lazy people when on holiday but my in-laws, they are a breed which I like to term 'commando tourists', always zipping around, trying to pack in each and every single sight they can. You know, The Type. Please note I use the term affectionately of course.

Sorry, I digress. Here's a photo of the cafe exterior, taken from where I was seated.

The interior is full of Balinese furniture: carved benches and tables generously scattered with silk and beaded cushions, the works. With a huge bar and dancefloor, I guess that's where the lounge bit comes into play at night. The washrooms were lovely too. Huge shells for sinks with stone fixtures and decor. Nice!

Another feature, if one could call it that, were the young, fashionable looking waiters there. Only males, mind you. Not one single female did I spy and most of them looked like they were catwalk runway ready. And extremely gay. I could almost see the job advertisment:

Young, good-looking men with keen sense of fashion. Able to sashay through rows of tables with a loaded tray. Must possess enough grace and attitude to put Miss Universe and most of the female population to shame.

I felt right at home, I tell you.


And now, the best part.

The Food.

Of course we had seafood almost every evening. Of course we had Paella. Of course some of us had Sangria. And of course, we had Tapas. Can't possibly go to Spain without crawling into a Tapas bar, can you? We found one that was chockful of locals (that's our yardstick for authencity). Unfortunately, that also meant they spoke only Spanish but no matter. After living in 2 countries where I don't speak the language, I was a veteran. I did know some basic words and the staff were so kind and patient with me. Anyway, what I wanted to say is this: we enjoyed ourselves so much, we made return visits. All of four times I think. On the 3rd visit, we started getting complimentary dessert. I will let the photos do the talking now. They are more eloquent than I can ever be.

I was rather embarrassed when snapping the photos but I just had to, for the blog. True it was a casual place but still! I could almost hear the waiters and waitresses going, "Bloody tourist!" in their heads. *haha*

But truly, it was heel lekker and I've been inspired to do the same thing at home. I did, in fact, make some last night for dinner and will continue to do so this summer.

I'm going to leave recollections of our trip here for the time being. More episodes will come along the way, I promise. I have an immediate urgent matter to take care of now: my growling tummy. Serves me right for writing about and posting photos of food on an empty stomach.


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Belly Up

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I've picked up a new past-time.

Belly dancing.

You may all stop sniggering now. *heh*

Over the last week or so, I've been following an instructional DVD on how to belly dance. The moves are easy to pick up but rather tricky to master. It really helps that the video is clear and concise and has a lovely Middle Eastern soundtrack. I've been doing shimmies, hip rolls, belly rolls and what have you. Just today, while waiting for the ground beef to brown, I started practicing my snake arms. Dishwashing time is also perfect for doing the hip shimmies. Just don't stand too close to the sink or you might end up bumping your knees. Like I did.

The only whinge I have is this: When doing her chest rolls, the instructress' torso becomes a mass of undulating waves, which is captivating to watch. When I do it, the best I can muster up is a mass of tiny ripples, even though I've got the technique correct. I brought it up to my husband this morning, throwing in a mini demonstration to illustrate my point. In true typical fashion, he says," Well - maybe you need a belly, to belly dance."

I don't know if I should feel happy or not.


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Friday's Feast #134

Friday, March 09, 2007

What is your usual bedtime? Do you like that, or would you rather it be different?
During the weekdays, I try to get into bed before midnight. On weekends and holidays, anything goes.

When it comes to advice, do you give more or receive more?
Neither. I only dispense advice when asked. Nothing is more annoying to me than getting unsolicitated advice so I don't do it to others either.

Describe a memorable meal you've had.
It was our 5th anniversay weekend in Paris. After doing the rounds at the Louvre, we drove to Versailles with the intention of touring the palace the next day. That evening, we had dinner at a posh hotel restaurant. The reason why the meal was memorable, apart from obvious reasons (ie, our anniversary etc), was because of the menu cards. Men and women get different cards. On the men's menu cards, you get the price listed next to the food or beverage item. For the women, the cards come sans prices. The idea behind it is that women should just order what they fancy and let the men worry about the cost. I like that mentality.

Main Course
Name a work of fiction that affected the way you think about something.
I suppose it will have to be Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

What is your favorite type of fruit juice?
Mango! Closely followed by watermelon. Yum!


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Wear Gloves

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mental note to self:

The next time you handle squid (aka sotong), fresh or otherwise, for goodness sake's, wear gloves!!! Then maybe, just maybe, your fingers won't bloody stink for the next 2 days!!!

Mam! Yes mam!


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Time Out

My son's been invited to his best friend's birthday party today. It lasts from 1.30pm - 6.00pm. In stay-at-home-mom terms and phrases, this means a whole afternoon off to myself. Whoah! A whole afternoon! A girl could go mad with all that free time. *haha*


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Tau Yew Bak With Mantou

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Tau Yew Bak

Tau Yew Bak is up there on my list of comfort food. It's pork belly braised in dark soy sauce. The thick sauce is salty sweet and tastes oh-so-good with Mantou, steamed Chinese buns.

Home-made Mantou

Mantou is available ready-made in Singapore, fresh or frozen. It can be eaten steamed or deep-fried. I love it deep fried when dipping it into the gravy of Chilli Crab, another Singaporean signature dish.

As I can't find them in the asian stores here, I had to be Johnny-on-the-spot and make them from scratch. It's not difficult at all, most of the time spent is in proving the dough, which takes 2 hours. It's Sunday, I didn't have plans, I had time. Mantou can be shaped into different forms. For today, I did a swiss-roll style and a flat circle folded into half to sandwich the pork slices in.

Tau Yew Bak with Mantou

Tau You Bak is yet another uncomplicated dish. As long as you get the sugar to caramelize properly to glaze the pork belly, you're home free. Then you leave it all to simmer and and pick up your stitching while watching your taped episodes of House and CSI:LV. Which I did.

Multi-tasking, I call it.

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Cantonese Yee Mein

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I had the hots for Yee Mein on Thursday. People get homesick, I get foodsick. So the next evening, I treated myself to a delicious serving of home-cooked Yee Mein; crispy noodles, green chilli and all. Heaven with a capital 'H'.

I enjoyed it so much I made it again today. My husband's away so I can pull stunts like that :) If I like a particular food, I can eat it for days on end until I get sick and don't want to see it again for the next 2 years.

Here's my easy peasy recipe for Yee Mein. As with Chinese cooking, the measurments are a rough guide. The amount you put in should rock your own taste buds.

Cantonese Yee Mein

You Need:

2-3 portions of fresh egg noodles
250g of vegetables eg, choy sum, bak choy
250g medium sized prawns; shelled
100g of pork; sliced
50g of pork liver; sliced
1 tsp of garlic, chopped
Oil for frying

1/2 tsp ginger juice
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp corn flour
a dash of pepper

1 tsp ginger juice
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
225 ml water
1/2 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Cornflour Mixture:
1/2 tbsp
5 tbsp water

Prep Work:

1. Blanch noodles in boiling water. Remove and drain well. Set aside
2. Do the same for vegetables.
3. Mix marinade ingredients and pork together. Marinate for at least and hour.
4. Mix sauce ingredients. Set aside.
5. Mix cornflour mixture. Set aside.

How To:

1. Heat a wok over high flame until it smokes. Add in oil.
2. Fry the noodles until crispy on both sides. Remove and drain well.
3. Add more oil to reheated wok. Fry garlic.
4. Stir-fry marinated pork with the marinade then add the sauce.
5. Stir the corn flour mixture then pour half in. Bring to the boil.
6. Add the prawns and liver. Cook for 2 minutes.
7. Spread the cooked meat and blanched vegetables over the noodles.
8. Add the rest of the cornflour mixture to the remaining sauce. Bring to the boil.
9. Pour the sauce over meat and vegetables.
10.Serve while piping hot.

Note: To obtain ginger juice, pound fresh ginger then squeeze over a fine sieve.

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Friday's Feast #133

Friday, March 02, 2007

What does the color pink make you think of?
DMC embroidery floss #818. Don't ask me why. The second thing that comes to mind is one of my spring trenchcoats - it's in baby pink.

Name something you thought you had lost, but later found.
This week, I thought I'd left my mobile phone charger in Spain only to find it the next day when I finished emptying the suitcases. It was hidden behind a slipper.

SaladIn 3 words, describe this past week.
Business as usual.

Main Course
What are you obsessed with?
My hobbies, shoes, clothes, shoes, toning up my tummy, shoes.

What kind of perfume or cologne do you like to wear?
I like something womanly and feminine. Nothing too fruity or girly but not overbearing either. At the moment, I'm using Chance by Chanel and Delices de Cartier by Cartier. Also in rotation are Alien and Angel, both by Thierry Mugler.


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Half an hour ago, I was busy preparing pork slices to be marinated for tonight's dinner. The phone rings, I answer it. It's one of those cordless thingy so I do what I always do when talking on the phone - stand in front of our huge front window. This means I can see the passerbys and they me.

Our street's really quiet so we only get neighbours walking their babies/kids, dogs or big rats like chihuahuas. Or we get the postman on his rounds or people delivering catalogues and junk mail.

So I'm talking to my husband and one such person, a boy in his late teens comes up our walkway to push some flyers into our mail slot. He sees me, I see him. I give a polite smile and in return, I get a weird look, sort of like a wary stare. I'm thinking, what is it? Is my hair messy, or is it my clothes? What? What???

Then I look down....

.... and realise I was still clutching my huge Chinese cleaver! Fishballs! No wonder the poor fellow looked the way he did. I must've looked like some pyscho b***h threatening her next victim on the phone.

*keels over in laughter*

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Death By Cake

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Come on..... all you fellow bakers out there, tell me you haven't had one of them days like these in the kitchen?

Honey, I don't think we're having dessert tonight...

This photo is part of a series done by Daniela Edburg, a very talented photographer. The series, entitled "Drop Dead Gorgeous", can be viewed here. The site also includes an interview with Ms Edburg.

Be warned, the photos are not for the faint-hearted. No, they won't induce a cardiac arrest but they do mirror classic horror movie scenes. In that capacity, they might be disturbing for some. For me, it's a wonderful set of artistic interpretation of modern life. The photos are very well taken and I love the tongue-in-cheek treatment she's given to iconic brands and everyday products. Not to mention the vibrant colours and retro composition used. I'm not a professional art critique but I know what I like and these, I like. Very much. I shan't rave about them anymore, give the link a go and decide for yourself.

P.S. Ms Edburg has an official site where you can find out more about her and view other photos in her Drop Dead Gorgeous series not featured in the earlier link. The site takes a while to load though, so be patient - have a slice of cake while waiting. *wink*

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