Archive for January, 2012

Welcome to Smaland
Kids getting ready to check in while parents embark on new project at Ikea

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i’m a little behind in discovering (and enjoying) graphic novels…

craigthompson

we both finished Craig/Thompson’s delightful ‘Blankets’ and ‘Habibi’ over a few nights, and we’re already craving for more! (we even went down to Planerds@313 on the second day of CNY, optimistically hoping it was open, but it wasn’t, to our disappointment.)

i’ve always been a strictly-prose kinda person, but the first graphic novel i picked up – the husband’s copy of Marjane/Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis‘ – surprised me, as a thought-provoking, insightful, evocative piece of literature, for all its comic-like illustrations and black & white panels.

‘Blankets’ and ‘Habibi’ similarly marvelled and moved me.

i personally preferred the more understated ‘Blankets’, a semi-autobiography of thompson’s childhood and adolescence, a beautifully-told memoir of a boy who never quite fitted in, and his questioning of the relationships that formed him during those growing-up years – with his brother, with his parents, with his first love, and importantly, with his religion.

blankets2

a bittersweet story that i could connect with, for some reason, despite the geographical and cultural gaps.

except, if you look closely, we are in fact of the same generation – certain icons of the early 90s tacked on the walls as clues.

blankets1 blankets5

and then, a line from The Cure did it for me. :)

blankets3

the husband on the other hand preferred ‘Habibi’, an epic tale of a girl, sold into marriage at 9 years of age, who learned to read and write from her husband…

habibi1

3 years later her husband was killed by thieves, and she escaped from being sold into slavery, along with an 3-year-old boy abandoned by another slave. she brought him up in the harsh, lonely desert, and as he grew older, the mother-son/sister-brother love evolved into something deeper and complex…

and while that, in essence, is the central storyline, what was more fascinating to me were the other stories interwoven throughout, lifted from the Quran and other sources, of Prophets and angels and their relation to the main characters, and in extension, to us, the reader.

habibi3

and of course, the beautiful, intricate Arabic calligraphy and motifs (amazing coming from a man who grew up in rural Midwest america, raised as a fundamental Christian no less), with poignant ruminations on each Arabic letter depicted in the ‘magic squares’ (exploring the mysticism of Arabic numerology), as each chapter unfolds…

habibi2

while its hard cover and sheer volume feels as though you are holding the holy book itself, be forewarned that there are depictions of nudity and sex within the pages so you may feel some discomfort if you aren’t able to reconcile such images in close proximity to the scriptures, but otherwise, read it with an open mind and you may end up appreciating the Quran and its teachings, the Arabic language and its aesthetics, and what they stand for, even more…

“When the last letter of the magic squares – Haa’ – reaches out to connect with the first letter – Baa’ – the word ‘Hubb’ – meaning ‘Love’ – is formed. ‘Habib’ means ‘Beloved’. Linked with the possessive ‘my’ – Yaa – it spells ‘HABIBI’.”

habibi4

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TGIF

TGIF

All getting ready for school or work, except me! :)

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(overheard at 10.11 PM…)

“DADDY, can i do my homewooooork??”

what the…..

aunisitdown

(i am ashamed to say, she has turned into an activity-slash-assessment-book fiend, despite my worst efforts. yes, i have turned to The Dark Side. in moments of weakness. at Popular bookstore, the axis of evil…)

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anyone else late today…?

blueblack

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the little bit of time we have at night after her brother has gone to bed, i become her playmate…

barbie
Yoga Barbie does a downward dog.

(ok, so it’s actually Ballerina Barbie.)

the girl got a bit creative with pseudo-Yoga Barbie, taking her to my bed railing, hooked her feet upside down and declared with the full seriousness of a preschool-going yoga instructor: “this is Bat Pose”. erm.

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i saw this unbelievably simple mug cake recipe while browsing the net that i just had to try.

basically you just need a microwave oven to bake the cake, no need for a full scale baking oven.
and you don’t even need a mixer, just your good old fork will do the job.

below are the ingredients

4 tablespoons self rising flour
4 tablespoons white caster sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons nutella
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

method

1. combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug. whisk well with a fork until smooth. microwave on high for 1.5 – 3 minutes. (time depends on microwave wattage. mine took 1.5 minutes.)

2. top with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. enjoy!

yep, that’s it! easy peasy! took less than 5 minutes if you have all the ingredients.
btw, you can try replacing the nutella with peanut butter if you want some variety.

lazyman nutella mug cake

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a bit of entertainment during our ice-cream….

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thankfully, we he survived his first week of spelling.

i was initially apprehensive when i saw his spelling list (twice a week, starting from the third week). they went straight into long vowels, double letter words, and past tense. how delightful.

i turned ‘a-n-i/m.a.l.s’ into a catchy rhyme. i bribed him with a kiss for every correct word. i barked “LONG VOWEL E, ‘E-A’!” probably a hundred times. i promised a scream at his sister every time he got the word ‘screamed’ right. (hey don’t judge, it worked.) his daddy and oma too took turns to – shall i say it? – *drill* him. yes, the dreaded drilling has (sadly) begun….

spelling1 spelling2

gladly, his ejaan (once a week, phew) was slightly less stressful. i was more amused by the stickers than the fact that he got them all correct. the stickers say “Teruskan” and “Menakjubkan”. indeed. :D

ejaan1 ejaan2

atrocious handwriting aside, i think he did ok. we asked if he copied. he assured us he didn’t. because everyone did this: *demonstrates hunching over with arm covering book*.

**********

meanwhile:

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trying to add some colours to Greyville.

greenorangebluered

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1239324391

It’s good to stay in tampines :)

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a lot of controversy on this one lately….

“This controvers­y seems to come up because people are offended by combining sex appeal and yoga…but sex appeal is already all over the mass-media in many forms, both in-your-fa­ce and subtle. We all are highly influenced by the sex/shame controvers­y and it’s beyond yoga.

I am unfazed to see it come into yoga because the tradition has already turned into an american commodity. If we use sex to sell everything­, and we want to sell yoga, of course we are going to use sex. In my personal opinion is that the video shows a great home practice, with a beautiful body, in some clothing that one would naturally wear while practicing at home.

We must be bigger than sex, bigger than capitalism­, and bigger than nudity to thrive, and the fact that this yogini is not ashamed triggers people’s shame of themselves­, of others, and of our own society.”
- from elephantjournal.com

all those prudes/feminists/purists/plain-jealous-women who made a big fuss over this should just take a few ujjayi breaths and a chill pill, i say… :)

“Life is easy if you don’t live it.

If you put yourself out there…especially these days on the internets…we’re all putting yourself out there not only for accolades or backslaps…but for criticism. Criticism is essential, and helpful—when and if it’s constructive. But…particularly these days on the internets…criticism is all too often as lazy and casual as it is vicious. We forget there are humans behind the targets we throw our words at.”

–> interview with the brave and beautiful yogini herself at huffingtonpost.com (ps: she has a 7-yr-old kid too!)

****

hmm, so how about this guy then, in nothing but a white loin cloth? ok for him coz he’s 1) a man, 2) non-Western, 3) set against a gritty backdrop, 4) not in an advertisement for a yoga studio…? ahh.

(speaking of which, dear True Yoga: STOP CALLING ME ALREADY.)

(and while we’re at it, dear yoga-apparel-brands: Y U NO sell your stretchy halter tops and pants at more ‘spiritual’ prices?! i don’t get.)

*ok, ujjayi breaths…*

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We welcome the arrival of Is’s baby girl today at Thomson Medical Centre. She looks like the daddy with the lips from mummy’s :)

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sorry for the late second installation of the food trip, i was momentarily distracted by a certain new shiny object, hehe….

anyway, after the asam pedas lunch at muar, we drove all the way straight to our destination.

Welcome to Melaka

the last time when i was here, was way back 4 years ago and boy, am i amazed by the recent developments, many new buildings seem to have sprung up overnight!

as we drove into the bustling melaka town, the familiar dryness of our throats signaled the need for some cool icy treat and so the first stop was jonker street for, chendol!

The stall, Jonker 88 Gula Melaka! Chendol Time

we were told that the jonker88 stall sells one of the meanest chendol in town. just a sip of the rich concoction explained why it’s one of the famous chendol in melaka. super thick gula melaka just oozing from the shaved ice, not like the syrupy diluted gula melaka normally found back home. it’s superbly rich and sweet indeed!

Jonker Street

after our sweet delights, we explored around jonker street like tourists from err… singapore. well, most of the tourists here looked like they come from singapore anyway. :p

Dataran Pahlawan

by now our tummy had started rumbling again and what else to do other than to find food! we wanted to try the famed asam pedas but since we had ‘em back in muar, decided to try something else. so we drove to their central shopping mall, the dataran pahlawan melaka megamall. this is a new addition to the usual mahkota parade that i used to visit 5 years back. looks like so much has changed since i last visited the area!

Gonna try the chicken rice Chendol Again Chicken Rice

found a halal chicken rice shop at the basement of dataran pahlawan. we were attracted to the signage that they sold chicken rice balls here, a melaka delicacy but alas, were disappointed that the balls had sold out. so we bought the next best thing, chicken rice. quite authentic tasting chicken rice, nice! and to wash it all down with a nice bowl of chendol.

Melaka's Dried Food Stuff

there’s a heritage gallery at the basement where you can get all types of local handcraft and foodstuff under one roof.

a trip to melaka is never complete without stopping over at umbai for the seafood. so after getting our local foodstuff like keropok at the heritage gallery, we traveled south for dinner. the place is really popular among the locals and singaporeans alike. with super fresh seafood and super reasonable price, this place is a must visit!

Medan Ikan Bakar Umbai

Seafood Galore

you just have to choose the raw seafood displayed at the many stalls there and informed the hawker on how you want it cooked. we had our fish cooked half bbq and half sambal. our squid was deep fried and it tasted soft and crunchy. here you can eat your seafood with nasi lemak, piping ones wrapped in a mini newspaper bundle, comes with either sambal or without and tasted so so good with your bbq seafood!
BBQ Fish Steaming Hot Nasi Lemak in mini packets

Nightfall

although it was time to go back, a road trip is not complete without a visit to a local night market. coincidentally, we past by a night market on the way back, so without any second invitation, we raided the place. since our stomach were still digesting our seafood dinner, we just took a tour around the area. not surprisingly, some of these food looked too good to miss, fortunately there’s still space in my stomach for some crispy pancake, heh!

Long Queue for Kebab Fried Kuey Teow for RM$1.50! Melaka Night Bazaar

so with that last piece of crispy pancake in my mouth, we sped back to woodlands, two super contented stuffed married men :)

it had been an enjoyable makan adventure for us and we look forward to the coming holidays to indulge again in our favourite pastime. well, this time we are thinking of going further, hmm…

Crispy Pancakes

click here to check out the complete food trip pictures!

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‘Stuck’ is a story of a boy whose kite got tangled in a mess of a tree, and his subsequent efforts to retrieve it, his mode of strategy being throw-something-to-knock-something-else-down. i can always raise a few chuckles out of the kids when we read this, especially the parts where, instead of things/people being used for their obvious purposes (i.e. ladder, saw, firemen), he heaves them all up into the tree where they each get, well, stuck.

stuck

not only is oliver/jeffers a multi-award-winning children’s book writer and a brilliant artist, he’s also irish… and a DILF. ;)

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