projects and plans

i’ve been busy.  the specifics are unclear even to me but i’ve managed to successfully while away a few months trucking around the good old USA, visiting friends, soul searching, making various things, imbibing and just having a jolly time.  however, it’s time to leave again but i won’t be going far!

vancouver is my next stop and hopefully it’s going to be fabulous and awesome.  a local brewmaster has agreed to take me on as an apprentice.  would that be like putting a kid in a candy store?  perhaps.  but i’m super psyched.  more updates from vancouver to come…

in other news, i made more things since my last post.  a notebook for snuz – i used an ex-jiffy corn muffin box for the cover; more mini cards for the store; banana nut muffins for aunt joan’s science olympiad judges (84 to be exact).  we also started growing heirloom tomatoes for the garden – 6 varieties this year.  and heirloom asparagus too.

st charles, missouri, has been surprisingly entertaining and there are some honest, great people here that i’ve grown to love but it’s time to pack up the cook’s knife and microplane for a new adventure…

crifity craft

some things i made.

two months

i spent the rest of november in singapore with friends and family and more good food.  right before thanksgiving, i flew back to the US and had a pretty traumatic time getting through customs.  but i made it!  and spent thanksgiving with shiyan in boston which was fantastic.  i spent 2 weeks in december with the crew in baltimore – much debauchery and fun times.  katherine and i left for mexico on the 16th (of december) with the zerrs.  another 5 days of debauchery.  while playing beach volleyball, a few of us sustained minor injuries – a scraped knee, a stubbed toe, some bruised egos.  nothing major.

we made it back in time for christmas with more zerrs.  continued the tradition of spending christmas eve at the corner bar – classy.  christmas morning could’ve been worse.  i was starting to wonder if i would wake up every christmas morning with a hangover.  perhaps.  but i was in good company.  we opened presents and that was awesome.  i got 2 cookbooks!  gourmet magazine’s and julia child’s mastering the art of french cooking.  i haven’t made anything from either book yet but i already know which ones i’m going to start with…

new year’s followed pretty quickly and we were moping around the house wondering what to do when we spontaneously decided to drive to baltimore.  best surprise ever!  sarah strahorn might even have shed a tear or two.  more partying.  more good times with friends.  after a few short days, we drove 12 hours to chicago and spent 2 nights with katherine’s friends there.

and now we’re back in good old st charles, missouri.  glad to not be driving the god-forsaken rental car anymore and trying to find some direction in life.  hopefully that goes well!  i hope everyone else had a great holiday season as well – happy 2010!

oh, and side note.  i’ve been trying to craft whenever i get the time to and this year, i managed to make a few homemade gifts (my preference).  it’s been slow-going but very satisfying.

happy birthday, mom!

and grandma!

my mother turns 61 today.  my grandmother would’ve been 80-ish.  it also happens to be all souls’ day and the fam is headed to church to pray for my grandmother.  i’m trying to weasel out of that situation to happy hour with my granddad.  i don’t think my grandma would mind…

last night, we had birthday dinner at the imperial herbal restaurant at vivocity. i’m happy to report that the food was superior to that of peach garden (where we went for dad’s birthday).  the spicy stir fried venison and the furong (egg whites in a bird nest looking thing) were pretty delicious and worth a try.  the rest of the meal was pretty typical chinese but of better quality, presentation and taste.  success!  after the peach garden and other chinese restaurant experiences, i was starting to think that maybe multi-course chinese dinners of this sort were all about quantity and their quality, like that of my regular dentist, had gone downhill.

everyone needs a little billy chen in their lives

billy chen = my mother

yesterday, we were riding the train home (we’re into being green these days) and it was a relatively empty train.  two people got up to leave and then…

mom: omg!  that man looks like a lady.  and also like jesus.

me: that’s funny.  mostly because i think they might be malay.

mom: oh!  is it?

and then we chuckled.  a lot.

updates from home

in the past 4 weeks, things have happened!

we celebrated mooncake festival at my granddad’s house and it was good family fun. we grilled out, set some paper lanterns on fire (not a traditional practice), sampled different flavored mooncakes and appreciated the moon.

my dad turned 60 which seems to be the official senior citizen age according to the government. he decided to retire and is now proudly trying to dabble in ‘manly’ things like gardening and made-up DIY tasks at home. i say made-up because i think his idea of DIY is a little unconventional and hilarious. an example: in our house, we have sliding glass doors that separate the dining room from the kitchen from the living room….you get the idea. anyways, the other day, he had me help him to first remove one of the glass door panels (they’re not light) and then we hung it horizontally from the roof outside (with green nylon string) to act as a sort of rain screen. i meant to attach a photo, sorry. but just use your imagination. it ain’t stylish or zen at all. but at 20 cents a meter for the nylon string and free for the existing glass panel, it was cheaper than oh, let’s say, bamboo screens made for this purpose? it’s been about a week and there it still hangs. and i guess it must blend in with the surroundings well because it took my mom a full 4 days to notice the new installation. she wasn’t impressed.

i think my dad is enjoying seniorhood. i think he mostly enjoys the store discounts, free museum days, the cheap movie tickets and the inevitable respect from younger folks that comes with the territory (he’s offered seats on public transportation pretty often). he excitedly sent off his application for the senior version of the public transportation card and couldn’t wait to use it when it arrived a few days after his birthday. i think he even loves the special sound people with concession cards get when they tap their cards on the card readers. it’s quite adorable.

i went to the dentist. a norm for me when i’m home because i haven’t found a dentist in the US that i love. this time, instead of visiting my regular private clinic, my mom made an appointment for me at a government outfit. she stated that through the grapevine, she had heard that my regular dentist was ‘not as good as before’. can a dentist’s skill really go downhill? i didn’t argue. probably she was right. the country isn’t that big. rumors (and true facts) spread like wildfire.  however, i had my reservations. not because it was a public clinic but because it was a new dentist. lo and behold! i couldn’t have been more pleased with my visit. most favorite dentist visit ever! not painful, super nice staff, i was able to ask any question i wanted (a rarity with healthcare providers these days)….i was so excited, i even obliged and filled out a comment card when asked later. who gushes about a dentist visit? i know. it was that awesome.

because it’s food-obsessed singapore, i’ve been having food adventures – of both the restaurant and home cooked variety. we keep returning for the snow ice at traditional desserts (mei heong yuen) on temple street because it never lets us down. other worthy mentions are:

– the laksa pesto pasta at ps cafe

– inle myanmar restaurant

– desserts at mof

home cooking wise, i’ve been experimenting with new recipes from jamie oliver cookbooks and my thai cooking class recipe book. in addition to pasta with grilled vegetables, i now have more staples to add to my repertoire! thank goodness…no one needs to be as predictable as grilled veggies with pasta…

i couldn’t wait to be reunited with my crafting supplies in the US so i reshopped for more here. i’m hoping to start earlier this year with the christmas gift making process and make decent ones since i missed out on the gift giving situation last year. i’m excited! i’m officially in love with all things stationery…

more photos from vietnam