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Stranger Than Fiction #45688


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Just when you think it's not possible for lightning to strike at the same place twice, it does.

Our water pipe in the kitchen burst, yet again. And to up the stakes in the nervous wreck ante, said pipe burst on the eve of Chinese New Year. This time we were able to catch it in time (I happened to wander into the kitchen in search for a snack) so only the kitchen, hallway and a third of the living room flooded. Frantic phone calls were made and almost two hours later, another grand total of ten assorted personnel came to evaluate, hack, fix, snap photos for evidence, gawk or simply stand around looking important. Oh, and they even cleaned up the mess with an industrial sized vacuum cleaner.

Good golly Miss Molly, I don't know how much more of this good fortune we can take.

*****

We had initially planned for a trip to Singapore during the festive season but on hindsight, it was good the plan fell through. My knees turn to jelly when I imagine our apartment flooding in the event we are not in town.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 3:38 am

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New Year Greetings


Saturday, January 24, 2009


On behalf of the imperial family of Cookalot, the Little Emperor wishes one and all a very happy and prosperous year of the Ox.


Gong Xi Fa Cai, everyone!

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 3:30 am

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Baby It's Cold Outside ...


Friday, January 23, 2009



... but I'm keeping toasty warm with a deep cherry red cape I knitted last spring.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 1:15 am

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Baby It's Cold Outside - Stir Fried Pork Liver With Ginger


Thursday, January 22, 2009


Stir Fried Pork Liver With Ginger

The Beijing winter is something fierce. All that strong north desert wind threatening to make Mary Poppins out of everyone. Winter is really dry too. It's wonderful when I'm airing out wet laundry, the moisture gets sucked out of individual fibers just like that. The flipside, however - there's always one, as sure as the sun will rise - is I'm itching and flaking where no woman should ever itch or flake. It's been taken care of by Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream and Eucerin's Extremely Dry Skin Treatment Lotion with 10% Urea. I must make mention of the fact that there is something rather disconcerting about applying pee on your skin, albeit the lab produced variety (at least I hope that's what Eucerin uses) but itchers and flakers can't be choosers. Whatever works.

Then there's the cold. The kind that cuts through your bones and refuses to budge. You want something akin to a hot water bottle down the hatch. The other evening, Stir Fried Pork Liver With Ginger was that hot water bottle. Along with the liver, I added in liberal amounts of ginger, fresh chilli and ground black pepper. For added aroma, I used sesame oil and chinese cooking wine. It was simply lekker.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:10 am

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A Wokful Of Flowers


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Olive 3 has hit the spot again.

Today's The Girlfriend's birthday and for a change, I thought I'd send some flowers over this year. Being a recent convert of The Olive 3 (after years of using another Singaporean gift company), I browsed through their lovely selection of table arrangements. There were so many to choose from, all of them beautiful in a contemporary non-fussy way. The minute I saw this, I started having the giggles and knew my search was over. The Girlfriend's a fellow foodie, what could be better than to send a wokful of flowers for birthday salutations?

So I click the 'buy now' button and start filling up the form. I come to the part of the recipient's address. Should I have it sent to her office? All of a sudden I get this mental picture of her traipsing all over town lugging a big wok stuffed with flowers and vegetables. I crack up again. This is all too funny! But common sense took hold and I typed in the home address instead. Damn!

The quirky yet elegant gift was a hit. The Girlfriend called in the afternoon. She was in stitches. I was in stitches. And we both laughed like a pair of giddy schoolgirls.

Thank you once again Lily and team, for bringing joy and a couple of laughs for a very special person's birthday. I can't wait to see what The Olive 3 comes up with next. You guys are the bees' knees!

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 8:02 pm

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And For The Little Miss


Tuesday, January 13, 2009



I had leftover yarn from The Girlfriend's shawl and thought I'd make a vest for Cutie Pie, said Girlfriend's two year old daughter.

Here it is, fresh as daisies:


This time, I used the two yarns separately, the darker for the main bodice and the lighter as edging. I love, love, love the flower button-hole thingamajig detail.



And the cheeky bear in the photo is Sonny-boy's most cherished bedside bud. He's called Bear Grylls, yes, the Bear Grylls. Sonny-boy is a fan and has been bugging me to make Bear (the teddy, not the man) a light blue shirt and matching kaki pants just like what Bear (the man, not the teddy) wears on his Man vs. Wild adventures.

Oi.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 5:00 am

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Special Request Knitted Shawl




The Girlfriend had her eyes on a particular shawl pattern a few months back and asked if I would make it up for her. Sure I would! The pattern was a challenge and I would rate it as moderately difficult. I splurged a little (what are friends for?) on a cotton and silk blend yarn in a green I knew she'd love. It's lightweight and feels lovely on the skin, perfect for Singapore's tropical climes. And although you can't see it here, I'd combine two strands of different shades into one. The effect is a very subtle tweed.





I hope she likes it.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 4:33 am

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'Twas The Week Before 2009


Monday, January 12, 2009


Apart from The Great Flood, the days leading up to Christmas and New Year was spent in relative calm.

First there was Sonny-boy's birthday.


It was just the three of us and we made a day out of it indoors. Beijing's not really kid friendly and it was just too cold to be out for extended periods of time. Sonny-boy wanted two things: a triple chocolate cake and an Indiana Jones Lego set. Mum took care of the cake ...

I hadn't the foggiest what triple chocolate cake meant in 9 year old speak but I did find the most chocolatey cake the confectionery had to offer. It was a triple layer (that should take care of the triple) chocolate sponge with chocolate cream filling. It was covered with chocolate ganache and to really push the point home, chocolate star embellishments. You know, just so you don't mistake it for vanilla or strawberry.



... while Dad, who should never be allowed in a toy store without supervision, came bearing not one but two Indy sets.


After cutting the cake, Hubs and Sonny-boy went about putting the pieces together. In reality, it was Hubs doing all of the work and I suspect he secretly enjoys it. In keeping with the theme, I put on the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie and that's how the afternoon was spent. Three and a half hours later, Hubs was still not done. Set #2 will have to wait till tomorrow. Talk about value for money!


Birthday Boy got to pick the dinner venue. It came as a relief to Birthday Boy's parents that he chose La Mansarde, a French restaurant we regularly visit.

*****

We not only took a break during Christmas, we took a break from it as well. We didn't put up a tree, there were no decorations, save for the Santa caps I made all of us wear on Christmas Day itself, no festive baking or cooking. We even skipped gift giving. Allow me to say the entire exercise was so liberating. It was the most relaxing Christmas ever. No mad rush, no precision military planning, no nothing. Although I love going the whole nine yards, sometimes it's nice to not do anything and just be.

We did however, go out for a Christmas meal (one has to eat, afterall). We went to Mare, the Spanish restaurant we celebrated Hubs' birthday in. Here's paying tribute to our host country:



A silk jacket in crimson with gold chrysanthemums finished off with velvet trimmings and cloisonne buttons. I also had on the matching velvet silk flowy pants. Hubs was spiffy in a black suit and turtleneck while Sonny-boy was in a festive navy blue, white and red argyll sweater and jeans. And his Santa cap.

*****

New Year was just as nondescript. We'd eaten out so much in between the two weeks I don't even remember where we went to for New Year's. But what I do remember was welcoming it at home in our sleepwear, lots of hugs and kisses, wine and kid's champagne.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 2:49 am

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Showers Of Blessings


Sunday, January 11, 2009


As you know, well if you didn't, you do now, the Chinese equate water with wealth and good fortune. Just a few days before Christmas, we were literally wading in it. One of our main water pipes in the kitchen exploded and wealth gushed out every which way. It rained all over the kitchen floor. I tried catching the flow with a pail but the aircon condenser got in the way. The water began spreading all over the kitchen floor and the minute I realised it was going to flood, there was a mad obstacle race around the apartment lifting and unplugging of all electrical appliances. However, I must add with some embarrassment, the first object I rescued was my knitting bag, sitting by the coffee table. One should know one's priorities. I also made a frantic call to Hubs asking him to "come back now, the damn apartment is flooding!" The dear man dropped everything and rushed home, no doubt with heart beating that much faster. This was the first time in our marriage I've ever summoned him from work.

In the meantime, I got Sonny-boy to put on his rain boots as I did mine. I went to the utilities room outside our apartment to see if there was a valve I could turn off. Well, there were so many of them, I didn't dare nor know which one to pick. It was a case of the red wire or the blue. Maybe the yellow. Well, I didn't want to escalate the situation so I left it and went back into the apartment. By then, the water level had reached about 1.5 inches throughout the apartment. Sonny-boy was sloshing around happily - how often does one get their own indoor pool? - and out of habit, I told him not to make a mess.

Anyway, the calvary came, order was restored and I spent the rest of the evening mopping and cleaning up whatever good fortune was left on the floor. Incidentally, that particular Monday was the day I had a raging fever and cold. Sonny-boy had just begun his winter holidays so the plan was for me to sleep in the entire day and get better but it as luck would have it, there was a change in agenda.

For those who like to know why, the water pipe burst because of the below freezing temperatures we've been experiencing. And something good did come out of this: the next day I saw a notice put up in the lift lobby saying due to the recent cold spell, all kitchen pipes will be inspected from so and so period of time to prevent possible damage from happening.

Always glad to be of public service.

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The Dutchess of Cookalot whipped this up at 1:59 am

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