Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

It's hard to believe that it's going to be the new year already. This year has been such an incredible one. There were so many things that happened and now that I think back... I can't really think of any other way to describe this year other than EVENTFUL. :)

A couple of reasons why: 1. It's the year I graduated and started work. Oh the PAIN of work and the burden of having to experience the responsibilities as a working adult. No longer can I just take the afternoon off if there are no tutorials or if I just FEEL like taking a break and going off for some foot reflexology. God, I miss those days. But I suppose, there's nothing like finally receiving some money every month that can be put towards travel. ;p And while there have been so many tiring/trying/downright depressing days, I have survived this far... and in a way it's a relief to think that the most difficult Intern year will be finishing soon... ok in another 4 months but that's a teeny detail.

2. It's the year I had the most incredible graduation trip(s) with my mum and a group of the craziest/best travel buddies I could've asked for (recall New Zealand ;p). 'Nuff said. I love those guys I travelled with and I always feel like giving them a great big hug everytime I look through out photos. Ever tried driving a 5 person caravan through the long winding NZ roads for miles and miles with a wonky sound system? Hilarious.

3. It's the year I got to do some great traveling with awesome experiences. :) Not only did I manage to have a great time with my mum in Europe, my grad trip group in New Zealand, but I was also able to go to Montreal, one of my favorite cities, for the Osheaga Festival. That was pretty amazing because it was something I had decided on almost on a whim, after seeing the incredible line up for the 3 day festival. And after I had bought the tickets to the festival it was like... ok now I need to buy the plane tickets. And then everything else fell into place. I loved seeing everyone's shocked expression when I told them I was going to Montreal over ... 8 days? :) I had maxed out my leave for that period of time to travel but it was so worth it. And I DID sort of wipe out the paltry amount in my bank account since I had just started work as well but really... I have no regrets at all. It was such a wonderful, relaxing experience for me. Well, a lot of it was just me walking the streets of Montreal, enjoying the gorgeous late summer - early autumn chilly weather, popping into cafes, finishing up that tome that is The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (and I would definitely recommend that it you're looking for a book to lose yourself in) and walking up early in the mornings feeling slightly stuffy because there was no air conditioning in the Air BnB room that I was staying in but it was so peaceful and quiet nonetheless. Ok after recapping it briefly in my mind, I'm all prepared to go back again. :) But hopefully with some people this time. Montreal is too fantastic a place to experience alone.

4. It's the year of counting blessings. I started this ritual of posting on Facebook every few days something about work that I was grateful for, because I knew that if I didn't actively do something like that, I would just become depressed and full of angst very easily since I don't particularly look forward to work. But counting blessings really does help lift one's mood and overall outlook on life. :) I'm so grateful for the tiniest of things... perhaps a text message in the night while I'm on call that keeps me company... friends/colleagues who can sympathise with everything and who offer an invaluable well of emotional support... warm barley water cooked by my dearest Ahpo (grandmama) when she knows I'm tired out from work (that I happen to be sipping now :D)... the joy of going on leave and packing my luggage in the middle of the week when everyone else has to go in to work the next day hehehe...

Oh it's just a whirlwind of emotions all the time. For every bit that's that much more trying, there's always something else to be grateful/thankful for which buoys my mood and helps me get through things. It's something that I want to continue doing for the rest of my life. Always being grateful for things.

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(Happy Christmas. Taken while in Ginza (probably) in Tokyo, Dec 2013.) 

It took me awhile to remember the circumstances around this photo because at first all I could see were the lights... then I saw the person in the photo with her handphone and then it hit me. We were walking around at night when we spotted a bunch of prettily lit Xmas trees that were part of the 'Illumination series' of Xmas decor across town. There were so many tourists taking photos of the same tree and while Donald was not particularly impressed, I thought it would be fun to take a photo of someone taking a photo. :) I'm just glad that the bokeh turned out nicely! Quite unexpected and another reason to love film.

Now it's time for me to settle down and get ready for work tomorrow. Yes, working on New Year's Day and through the night as well. But hopefully it'll be incredibly uneventful and smooth-sailing. I'm just grateful for these quiet moments at home tonight that allowed me to reflect on the past year of events. Facebook's 2013 in Review thingamajiggy sort of prompted this rumination as well.

Here's wishing everyone a blessed New Year ahead. :) Would love to hear about your thoughts on the year past/ahead as well.

Happy New Year.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Minolta #1

Something I've been meaning to share with you guys for quite a while now :D -- I bought my first proper film camera a few months back! And boy, has it been such a joy ride shooting film. I had been meaning to get myself a film camera (in fact, I remember spending hours at lectures towards the final months leading up to the exams, googling film cameras and pondering about just which one to get as a starter. the more boring the lecture/the most stressed I felt, the more frantic the googling and the wilder those internal flights of fancy would be) and it just felt like my graduation trip (s) would be the perfect time to make use of one. So I ended up getting a Minolta- X370 off eBay and thankkkk goodnessss it's in great working condition. There WAS a period of time when it got a little wonky causing a 'capping' problem (i actually googled - 'what causes the photos to have a portion unexposed and black??') but miraculously that seemed to have resolved by itself. The camera doctor I brought my baby to see actually said there was nothing wrong physically wrong with it and that I would just have to continue and see how it went, "as that is the nature of film". I remember walking out of The Camera Hospital (trust me, I'm not kidding about the name. ;p) feeling slightly perturbed and more than a little worried. After all, I didn't want to keep shooting if it would only result in close to half the shots cut off and unexposed. But then, amazingly, that problem hasn't really surfaced very much at all anymore. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that when it's extremely bright outside, I tend to make the shutter speed its maximum 1000 rather than leave it to Auto. Who knows? I'm hoping it'll continue performing admirably as it has all this while. :)

There's something incredibly addictive about shooting film. Granted, it IS a more expensive hobby but there are so many facets to it that make it worthwhile. First of all, it's all about delayed gratification. That was something I took awhile to get used to at the beginning. That flustered feeling of uncertainty as the thoughts 'did I manage to capture that shot the way I wanted to??' whizzed through my head. There are times still when I take a second shot if I really REALLY want to capture that moment and I wasn't sure if the first one was taken well or not. Because with film, there really isn't the opportunity for second chances. Each shot is the final product in itself (to a large extent). But in that uncertainty, lies the allure. Because each shot is its end in itself, every shot is unique and cannot be duplicated. With digital cameras, you can take a multitude of shots, often carelessly and in a trigger-happy fashion because there is very minimal opportunity cost in taking yet another, less well-thought through shot. There's always the delete button and there's photoshop. But with film, since every shot does cost that extra bit of money and IS that much more precious, I realised that I started to really think about my shots. I started asking myself each time, is this something worth capturing? Does this moment mean enough for me to want to capture? Am I taking the best shot I can take? Should I take a step back and make sure that the framing and composition is better before I press the button? And in asking these questions, I think I've become a more careful, deliberate photographer. Every photo has to mean something. Every photo that I capture on film has to be a moment or feeling special enough for me to want to hold on to and look back on for years to come. So with the photos I take with film, I tend to be able to associate my feelings about that memory more easily because of all the extra thought I put into it before taking that shot. :) It's definitely a different feeling. For sure, shooting digital is way more convenient and cheaper, but there's a discipline that comes with shooting film that probably benefits me as a someone hoping to grow as a photographer...and as a person.

Plus, with film, I don't feel the need to edit my photos very much. I'm usually really pleased with the colours and the way the photos turn out that after getting them scanned in, usually the most I do is bump up the brightness...maybe tinker with the contrast/exposure a little. Pretty minimal changes. In a way, I just want to keep those photos are authentic as possible. I like the raw feeling of film. It is what is it, for everyone to see.

So here we go, some shots from my very first roll of film. :)

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#1. Living Room. (In my best friend's place in Heidelberg)

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#2. Buck. (The sweetest, calmest, and possibly oldest, dog that I've known so far.  He belongs to my best friend. I hope he's still going strong now. I love how he always chills on his doggy mattress in a patch of sunlight after breakfast. That's the life.)

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#3. Waiting. (In a great cafe called Cafe Nerd in downtown Heidelberg.)

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#4. Bicycles. (Spotted along a street in Rio Maggiore, one of the 5 towns that make up the seaside towns of Cinque Terre in Italy.)

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#5. Manarola. (I was soooo happy when I was able to capture this shot! :) I'd seen the shot of these incredible houses in the town of Manarola when researching on Cinque Terre for my graduation trip. It was a dream to take a similar shot of all these colorful houses by the cliffside. That day, it happened to be drizzling and my mum and I were trudging along the hiking path, trying to take whatever photos that we could amidst the drizzle. Then as we reached this vantage point, the rain stopped (almost miraculously so!) and out came the sun, bathing everything in a gorgeous patch of sunlight. It couldn't have been more fortuitous.)

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#6. The crashing of waves. (At one of the Cinque Terre towns.)

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#7. Stairs toward the marina in the town of Corniglia. (Man those stairs were a killer. But they were so, so pretty. There was practically no one taking the same trail so it was a quiet, beautiful, peaceful walk. Those walks where the times when I really got the chance to catch up with my mommers and bond during the trip :))

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#8. Manarola flowers. (There were so many lovely flowers all over the Cinque Terre towns! This was at the vantage point in Manarola... where I also happened to bump into a classmate from school. What were the odds eh? But it's a small world after all.)

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#9. Rose garden in Corniglia.

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#10. Manarola bird.

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#11. Sleepy Corniglia cat.

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#12. View from our hotel in Paris. 

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#13. Just another Parisian street. (I love how so many buildings are many beautiful with the intricately designed grills outside windows.)

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#14. A little closer to home.

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#15. Lost, possibly forgotten. (After a trip to 7-11.) 

That was just the first of many rolls of film I've taken so far. :) Nowadays I just end up using my Minolta whenever I go out because most of the time even if I do take photos with my digital camera I end up not having the time to edit them quickly enough and they end up in the memory card for months down the road (as you probably have noticed). But with film, I'm always soooooo eager to develop them to find out exactly how they turned out. Each roll is a surprise - not all have turned out right (I'm still working on my focusing since it's a manual lens) but whenever there are a few shots that come out just the way I'd hoped for... it's such a great feeling. 

More soon. :) 

Though I had to work both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, it was still pretty great in the after-work hours. It's really only when your weekends aren't guaranteed off that you appreciate every single second off work to the absolute core. I suppose there is some truth to how life's greatest happiness can only be tasted after going through suffering. I never used to like that idea because if there's an option, I'd rather not suffer at all. But there's nothing like the feeling/thrill of fleeing the workplace/switching off the work phone and going off to finally have some fun after work. This weekend I managed to go to this really great exhibition called Google Translating Tokyoto, by the family/art collective, Holycrap.sg. :P Don't you just love the name? It was held in this gorgeous space in Temporium a place that's part gallery/part cafe/part retail store and has possibly one of the prettiest cafes I've been into so far. I've taken a few photos with my minolta and hopefully they come out nicely. It was a cozy exhibition about the family's first trip to Tokyo with their two young kids and armed with a point and shoot camera each, they decided to document their travels and eventual came up with a family zine (FAMzine) to share with others. I think it's such a great idea. And the kids are totally creative and darling. But more on that with photos soon. :) 

Here's to a great week ahead.

best coffee between the earth and sky

One of the most gorgeous places I've been to in my life. EVER.

View from the Mount John Observatory at Lake Tekapo. I guess most people would make the journey there to gaze at stars in the night sky but it's also a perfect place to enjoy brunch in the day with good company.

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The waters were THAT clear and the skies a perfect blaze of wispy clouds. I kid you not.

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And atop the mountain lies the Astro Cafe , a place that claims to have the best coffee between the earth and the sky. :D Not too sure about that because I tucked in to a deliciously warm cup of hot chocolate since it was cold and chilly up there. The food was regular fare - sandwiches, cakes, financiers... made all the more special because of the location. I wonder how many couples come to this spot for their first date. Wouldn't it be amazing to watch the sunset and then enjoy a feast of stars after? SIGH. 

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Meet a regular's adorable god! :) I'm pretty sure he was a regular because well he was one of those congenial old men you'd imagine to be retired but spends his free time walking his dog to funky places to meet new people because he can. And the dog definitely knows his way around the observatory point - look how at home he is. 

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Agh if this was a few months ago I would definitely be able to recall his name but for the life of me, I can't now. Gosh has it already been... 7 months since my graduation trip? Time flies so much faster than we ever realize.

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Mmm-mmm nothing like hot chocolate with marshmallows for brunch! 

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I love the colour of those pretty blue cups against the slate grey stone table. 

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What a way to enjoy summer vacation for a kid eh? For anyone, for that matter. 

So once again, another recommendation for your NZ trip. Seriously, I would put this on a bucket list/list of places to visit in one's life!


Ahhh it's the first of December already. I feel like I should be reflecting a little more since it's that time of the year when resolutions need to be made in order to make some improvements in life. But boy, has it been a crazy busy past few months of work. Most days after work all I want to do is either lie in bed doing absolutely nothing but enjoy the peace, quiet and comfort of my blankets or the solace of a good book/tv show. The amazing thing is that I've managed to read more books (for leisure) in the past few months since starting work than I have read probably in the past 1-2 years as a student. ;p For now, it's great because I don't have to force myself to study. There are always pros and cons of any situation and now while the obvious con would be work that I don't always enjoy and find overly draining at times, this is also the year when I can kick back after work and simply do whatever I want to do. I need to remember that and enjoy these times while I still can. 

See? Always in need of more reflection. 


Sunday, 13 October 2013

easy peasy summertime succotash

Yet another dish from The Kind Diet. This one's super duper easy to whip up and I couldn't find lima beans in the supermarket so I just bought some frozen Edamame beans (which I've been meaning to get for ages!) and used those instead. Edamame beans are just so tasty by themselves. I could easily eat a whole bowl for a snack. And apparently, it's one of the popular summertime snacks in Japan, commonly eaten in the hot summer evenings after work by Japanese, washed down with a glass of chilled beer. It was funny because I'd read about it in this book by Naori Moriyama ('Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat') just a few weeks ago, and a few nights back while walking past a random restaurant with a bar, I spotted three Japanese men dining al fresco, each with a bowl of edamame beans and glass of beer in hand. So it IS true.

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Recipe for this dish can be found HERE. 

Fun fact - Succotash is a bean dish (usually with corn/lima beans/other shelled beans) that's a traditional Thanksgiving dish especially in New England and the Native Americans were apparently the first to come up with the dish. Looks like it'll be something to cook again next month along with pumpkin bread/pie. :D 

Once again, this was technically meant to be a vegan dish but at the moment it's only vegetarian because I ended using normal butter. ;p Not too keen on using the Earth Balance butter that I bought the other day after using it for the tofu cheesecake because normal butter just smells and tastes soooooo much better in my opinion. 

I've been checking out more vegan cookbooks and have just placed an order for Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin. Though at the moment I'm not ready to make such a drastic shift in diet but I do like the idea of gradually increasing my repertoire of vegetarian/vegan dishes such that one day, maybe I'll find myself wholly capable of eating vegetarian (or vegan!) on a day-to-day basis. Who knows? But I definitely like the idea of doing something that's not only better for my health but with ripple effects on the environment. More to come soon. 


Thursday, 10 October 2013

muesli love

You know it's a good day, when you can start it off with a hearty bowl of muesli. :) It's something that, for me at least, requires time and patience to savour. Sounds strange, I know, since it's probably a dish that most people view as a quick/on-the-go type of breakfast. But on working days, sleep (even a luxurious mere 2 minutes more) trumps breakfast anytime. Since I had some leftover thawed berries (from the almost vegan triple berries cheesecake attempt) and a glorious Sunday morning ahead of me, I was able to put together muesli with Silk soy milk (soooo good) and leftover berries.

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This week has been so tiring. But I'm so relieved that the weekend is almost upon us!! Hang in there.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

the almost vegan cheesecake

This weekend was a pretty productive one in the kitchen. :) I remember how there was a period sometime towards the end of the year last year when I used to back practically every weekend because it was something cathartic and stress-relieving...but that was also when I was still a student and have weekends off to rest and supposedly study. Ohh the sheer luxury of a weekend off. Yes, it's the case that weekends now are no longer a guarantee for rest and that's probably one of the few things I miss about being a student. That, and the fact that as a student, if you aren't up to going for lessons, you really can just take a break for the day without any consequences to bear. But now, even taking sick leave is pretty impossible because there's the real concern of how everyone else left behind is going to have to take up your share of the workload. Moral of the story is, if you're a student, enjoy your days of insouciance and inconsequentiality.

So recently, I've started exploring a little more about a vegan diet, and by exploring, I really mean reading The Kind Diet , a book written by Alicia Silverstone (whom I used to have a huge girl crush on back in the days of Clueless)(I mean who didn't love her??) that is part memoir, part crash course in the nutritional aspects of a vegan diet, and also a recipe book with tons of recipes that look so delicious. After watching youtube interviews of her explaining about her decision to turn vegan and how she went about doing so, it definitely got me thinking about how this is a possible lifestyle that I might want to lean into in the future. Everything started with the book, Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer, that was the catalyst for my pescatarian diet change, and it seems that more and more I find myself thinking about the meaning of the choices I make when it comes to my diet. Like Foer mentioned in his book, he started exploring the topic because he wanted to be able to explain to his son (a new born at the time) why we eat the way we do, because not only do our choices reflect who we are but they affect our children in ways that we can't entirely control. And it does seem a little finicky to just say, oh I eat all kinds of meat but not dog meat because dogs are cute. It just seems insane how the food industries have been driven by the very fickle and subjective taste preferences of humans. I mean in a parallel universe, if humans weren't at the top of the food pyramid, it's plain sad to be at the mercy of some animal because of a random taste whim. But ok, this discussion could go on forever, and in the words of a dear carnivorous friend of mine, he'd just end it off by going, "Humans rule. 'nuff said", and go back to stuffing his face with pork ribs.

(Btw, I HIGHLY recommend reading Eating Animals. :) Just because Jonathan Safran Foer is one of my favorite writers and once you read that book, you'll at least get an inkling of how food gets from the farms to your plate. Essential knowledge if you care about what goes into your mouth.)

Last thursday, when I had the amazing good fortune of a random afternoon off, I decided to try out some recipes in The Kind Diet cookbook - namely the vegan berry cheesecake and the oatmeal-nuts-dried plum cookies. The vegan berry cheesecake looked so good in the photos and I was so excited to try out some new vegan ingredients, namely Earth Balance butter that is kinda expensive >< but I was really curious to see what it would look/taste like. Managed to get it at this incredible organic food store called Supernature at their Orchard Boulevard outlet and boy was it INCREDIBLE. They have racks and racks of organic items and I'm tempted to spend a proper afternoon there just browsing the aisles to see what's on offer.

Back to the Vegan Berry Cheesecake, recipe available HERE

PLUS POINTS - I really like how it makes use of silken tofu, which is definitely healthier than the usual whipping cream/truckloads of refined sugar/sour cream combination. But I couldn't actually find any non-dairy cream cheese (yeah, is there really such a thing?!) in the supermarkets so the cheesecake ended up being half vegan only.

MEH POINTS - All the while when I was working the ingredients for the cheesecake, the overaraching thought in my mind was that this would SMELL/TASTE SO MUCH BETTER with normal butter. When I had to melt the Earth Balance butter to mix the crushed graham crackers in, there was no delightfully sinful waft of molten butter that is typically the case with the delicious french beurre butter that I usually use. ;p Plus the recipe almost didn't work out because I really wasn't sure how the cake was supposed to look like after 45 min - 1 hour of baking in the oven. Some tips that I've now garnered from this experience is that:

1. You need to drain out as much water as possible from the silken tofu before incorporating it into the batter. I might no have been so careful with that, so in the end my batter kept bubbling slightly in the oven, which definitely affected the baking consistency. Most of the time it looked like the top layer was getting baked when the deeper portions were still molten.

2. These tofu cheesecakes need time to harden up! They ain't going to be hard immediately when you take them out from the oven so give them time to harden as they cool off to room temperature + with refrigeration. I was soooo disappointed at first when I thought that the cheesecake was a gone case because when I took it out after an hour in the oven, it was still 70% molten beneath the surface. :( I was all ready to dump it but then I decided to stick it outside to cool off for about 1-2 hours, before I chucked it into the fridge, hoping that it would eventually harden up overnight. WHICH IT DID. So I suppose the point is, don't rush these cheesecakes. That said, for this one, the berries definitely saved the cake - both in terms of taste and looks. It's definitely not as rich as a typical non-vegan cheesecake because the tofu makes it so much lighter and softer, but it was pretty decent and felt healthier. Not too sure that I would make it again though because of the traumatic - why is it not hardening up!! response I had initially.

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Ta-dah. :) I'm thinking the next cheesecake I'll try will definitely incorporate tofu again but with the other typical dairy products. I suppose at this stage, I'm not ready to go vegan in terms of my baking ingredients. I will definitely be aiming to replace the refined sugars with healthier alternatives like brown rice syrup and maple syrup but in terms of the essential ingredient - butter, I'm still going to be sticking with my french butter for the time being.

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Another recipe I tried was the Oatmeal, Walnut and Dried Plum Cookies (RECIPE HERE. This was definitely more successful than the cheesecake in that I didn't have so many problems with it coming out of the oven. Only thing is that these really EXPAND in the oven! I should've kept the cookie dough portions to 1 teaspoon large portions rather than the tablespoon ones as listed in the recipe. ;p Because the larger ones ended up rather MASSIVE and were so weak that they broke easily when I tried lifting them off to the cooling rack. The smaller ones were just right and retained some crunchiness at the edges. Added in raisins as well to these cookies.

OOh boy, where did the night go? Time to listen to some music before bed. Here's a song that I simply adore now.

And don't you think the lead singer's voice is like silken tofu?

Good night. 


Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Kitchen Table Cafe and Bake

Finally, a Sunday of rest to look forward to tomorrow. :) I'm so grateful whenever there is a day off in the week. It just makes all the difference - that ONE day of rest. Not that it's enough (in the ideal world we'd all be working 3 days a week and resting the next 4 ;p) but the days are so much more manageable with that one day to break the tedium and drudgery. That said, I do miss brunch. 

One of the best parts of my NZ trip was checking out all these great cafes where we would sloth around, eat great food and plan our next destination. In general, traveling for food was something we all agreed on. The NZ trip was about the time when I was starting to make a change in my diet though - sort of the start of my attempts at eliminating meat from my diet. Yeshhh, it's been about 5 months now since I've started my pescatarian ways, since I've not been able to cut out seafood/eggs/dairy from my diet to become completely vegetarian. ;p Maybe it'll be the next step. But anyhow, I realized pretty quickly that a grad trip with friends is not the ideal time for a change of that scale. At first I persisted, but then in the end I realized it would be much harder for our resident chef to cater for 4 minced meat and melted cheese mushrooms + 1 muesli dish for breakfast... Still, NZ was probably the time when I started to really develop a liking for muesli. I love how it's simple, hearty and downright healthy most of the time. 

Here's a cafe we happened to pass by - The Kitchen Table Cafe and Bake, in Dunedin, NZ. I just remember it being a very cozy place with really yummy muesli that came in a ginormous serving size. MMFF.

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Nothing quite as satisfying as smoked salmon with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. I don't know how I'm ever going to be able to turn vegetarian because I can't quite foresee life without those flavours. GAH. 

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The gorgeous bowl of muesli with a great variety of nuts strewn in. I love the combination of milk and a berry compote as well with muesli.  

 photo kitchencafe5small_zps16573504.jpg LOL. My friend's bagel as it was the cheapest thing on the menu. Quite a decently sized one though. (And wouldn't you agree that toasted bread/dough is just about the best taste on earth? With butter that is.) 

111 Moray Place 
Dunedin Central 
Dunedin City 

And of course, the other place we had to visit was the Dunedin Railway Station - apparently THE most photographed site in the whole of NZ.

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How badass are they? ;) 

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Heh. I really don't remember us doing very much apart from walking around the town centre, called The Octagon, really quickly. It's a quiet, chill sort of place and the best find was probably that cafe - amazingly, because it was while we were in search of another one that we never found. I like drawing meaning and conclusions from instances such as this. Conclusions such as, 'expect the unexpected' or 'you might not find what you're looking for, but in the process, something better might settle right in front of you'. Obviously I ain't gonna be writer of fortune cookie prophecies any time soon. 

Here's to a restful Sunday! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Of sashimi and sky blue lakes

Yet another very very belated post. Incase you were wondering, I'm still here. I've just been sinking in the quagmire that is work. Some days are good and some days are plain bad. But most days are tiring. Usually the only thing I think of when I wake up in the morning on weekdays is the time when I can come back home to sleep. But inevitably, after work, there's a sudden spurt of energy, and I'm so much more awake to do stuff - ANYTHING FUN - that keeps me up later than I should be up to at night... and then the entire cycle starts again. Ever felt that way? ;/ 

I haven't been able to blog very much because whenever there's free time, it's usually spent - eating/sleeping/reading/surfing the net, in that order. (oooh and of course, thinking about where and what to eat, and when to sleep). I'm pretty sure I was something akin to a sloth in my previous life. Either a sloth or a very very lazy dog. I don't see how people can be bored when there's no work. I'm sure everyone has that one friend who always complains of boredom within days of the school holidays starting. Yeah, I can't understand those creatures either. But for me, there always seems to be so much to do and too little free time to do it all. I know it's all to do with prioritising and rest should definitely come up the top of the list... but sometimes I get carried away with going out and doing things that are a little more exciting though I know my body needs the rest. Am warming up to the idea that my body really just can't take the stress after awhile and 36 hours or so of no sleep is probably my limit. Why we need to subject our bodies to that sort of pressure in this line of work is beyond me. But so many have gone through it, survived, and lived to tell the tale. So I need to be able to pull through and survive too. 

Before I lose myself in a very tangential ramble, it's probably better that I lift my spirits and go back to some photos from New Zealand. ;) Still a bunch more that I've been dying to post because these are all places I highly recommend you check out if you ever get to go to the South Island. Just a few more posts, I promise, and then it'll be on to more recent things! 

So here we go - possibly one of the prettiest places I've been to. EVER.

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Lake Tekapo - just driving by was one of the best parts of the trip! I think we were on our way in our caravan to a hot spring where we would be staying the night... but this was another place in our guide book that was recommended and MAN, was it worth it. You NEED to check out this place if you're in the vicinity (and by that, I mean the entire country of NZ) -- Mt Cook Alpine Salmon farm. It's famous for its sashimi which I presume is exceedingly fresh catch from the salmon farm that's created by the hydro canal fed by Lake Tekapo. We were stark raving ravenous when we were on our way. On hindsight, it's probably because we knew we were going to be feasting on some terrific salmon sashimi so we didn't eat much for breakfast and that ride in the caravan was probably the longest/most excruciating one that we passed...playing bridge. It was hilarious because we were driving by all these great sights, like Maori artwork on rocks (something to that extent), but we looked out of the window for a second, then returned to chanting, "SA-SHI-MI! SA-SHI-MI!", before turning back to our game of bridge to quell the hunger in our bellies. 

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:D I love the lighting in this photo! It was just about 5pm in the evening and the sun was setting. Many fond memories of this place because it was so dang gorgeous. And naturally so! 

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OOHHHHHHHH YEAHH. Cold, thick, juicy slices of fresh salmon sashimi. We probably cleared this in...50seconds? Felt that way. ;) 

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And within the span of about half an hour, the sun set, changing the colours of the landscape every few minutes. It was gorgeous. And the colours of these photos aren't edited in any way at all. :) I found that most of the NZ landscape shots didn't really need brightening/editing at all because of its sheer natural beauty. 

Sigh. Ok, I feel a lot more contented just having re-lived a few moments of that trip through these photos. 

Now, time for bed and work tomorrow. At least it's a half day on Saturday. I'm grateful for whatever I can get. 


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Lake Matheson Cafe

SO HAPPY to have finished work early today. And by early, I mean getting home before 7pm. This 2 weeks since coming back from Montreal has been HARSH. I guess it's always going to be rough returning back to work/reality after a holiday but these 2 weeks were plain tiring. After an epic-ly hideous call, I ignored my body's screams/pleas for sleep and went out instead for dinner with a bestie whom I hadn't caught up with in ages. After that, the viral flu set in. Plain miserable to be sick. But then you realize that the body really can be a lot smarter than the brain. There's probably still a huge sleep debt that needs to be paid off but for now, I feel happy and energized enough to look through more NZ photos. :)

One of my favorite places that we went to in NZ was Lake Matheson Cake. This was near Fox Glacier where we did a SICK morning of ice climbing (never again! I was that close to keeling over. NEVERRRR AGAIN). We'd read in Lonely Planet that this cafe was a great place to head to for breakfast followed by a walk by the lake but due to drizzly weather and foggy skies, we ended up only making it for breakfast and not the lake. :p Didn't bother us much though. The beautiful cafe was more than enough eye candy and we were some of the only customers there. What a feeling to be in such a place of beauty with SO FEW PEOPLE AROUND after being so used to negotiating jam-packed crowds in any cafe remotely promising the potential of quiet space.

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Just fell in love with the floor to ceiling glass windows and the clean lines of these wooden chairs and tables.

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Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. Some flavour combinations are so good you wonder how people came up with them in the first place.

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Typical English Breakfast with hash. YUM.

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MMMM MUESLI! This was SO GOOD. I think this was the time when I fell in love with muesli and yoghurt drizzled with honey. It's such a simple thing to whip up for breakfast and really fills the tummy but I suppose it's something I would only do on a holiday or if I were on leave. You just need to have the patience and the mood for a slow, leisurely breakfast in order to truly enjoy something like this. On a daily basis, sleep > breakfast anytime.

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I would gladly pay for a holiday and go overseas if only to bury myself in an oasis of tranquility. Some people prefer getting out and bonding with nature but for me, I just like a quiet cafe with good food, good company and a good view. 

So here: 
PO Box 86, Fox Glacier New Zealand 

Trust me on this ;)