Thursday, 26 February 2009

And so, the season of Lent begins

Lent is a time for reflection and prayer, a time to think about life, about family and about God.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the 40 days of Lent. We of course went for Mass although I was 10mins late (held up at work and was caught in traffic after the evening downpour. (Shen, did you go?)

I was reading some discussions on Ravelry about giving up buying yarn for Lent (the whole discussion here), and was wondering, what should I give up for Lent? I've been trying to stick to my yarn diet since last month and only broke it once last week. Yes, I'll stick to my yarn diet.

Some people also said that they'll be knitting for charity. I wonder what practical projects can I knit for charity in Malaysia. Hmmm...

Anyway, I'm getting hungry so time to get out of the office and look for food. Been having stomach upset for the past week and havent been eating all that well. Hopefully I lose some weight with this.

Oh yea, Shen, I've been almost vegetarian these few days. Dont know why. Wasn't a conscious effort to do it. Maybe it's cos I'm not feeling well so didn't feel like eating meat. Plus it's Lent... Hmmm...

Monday, 23 February 2009

Busy weekend...

Apologies for the lack of photos of late. Will try to post some tonight. Have been busy with work (results season coming in full steam this week), busy with my knitting (1 more FO over the weekend and started on 2 more projects) and of course busy with all the other stuff I've procrastinated about.

Saturday was a busy day. Came into the office in the morning to sort out some stuff. Then headed to Sg Wang Plaza to meet my mom's tailor. We have less than 2 months to Sunny's wedding so I needed to get the dress materials to Peggy @ Diana Boutique (our tailor), discuss the design I wanted and then get measurements taken. Then headed to Midvalley for lunch (only got to eat at 2.30pm though) and to run some errands. In the evening, Rommel and I watched the new Tom Cruise film, Valkyrie (not bad la, sister and I compared it to some of the other Hitler-related films where the endings are always everyone gets killed except Hitler.)

Oh I forgot to mention that while in Sg Wang, I stopped by Jet Sun again and bought three 60cm circular needles in 4.5mm, Japan size 9 and size 11.

We were out early on Sunday - attended the 8.30am Mass because BBC was scheduled to come in to film Father OC at Mass. But I like attending the earlier masses on Sundays. For one, we then have the whole day to do as we like. And, the weather is much cooler vs the later Masses.

Lunch was at Reunion in Bangsar Village II with Rachel who was back for the weekend. Incidentally, there was an FJ Benjamin warehouse sale on Celine, Raoul and Banana Republic stuff so we went and bought some shirts etc. Then there was the Trucco closing down sale as well (Shen, Trucco is now gone for good from Malaysia... I'm so depressed... But I managed to buy the remaining clothes - 12 pieces of clothing for RM1919! And it includes 2 long dresses.)

Over the weekend, Rommel has been in search of a suit so we also visited various shops we'd hoped would have decent suits - scoured The Gardens, Pavilion and even went to the Melium outlet in case they had decent Boss suits on sale. Came back with nothing so far. Sigh... the search continues.

Knit update:
Finished my first basic crochet shrug for myself. I liked the pattern so much since it's so easy and quick to crochet that I started another one in baby blue and am hoping to give it to one of the younger cousins when I'm done with it.
Also started on another mindless knitting project: a top for myself using the new Schachenmayer nomotto yarn Storia that I bought last week in Jet Sun. This is meant for knitting while at the cinema since it's just plain stockingnette in a round and I can knit it in darkness.

Hmm.... rather satisfied with my knitting progress over the weekend. Now I just need to take pictures and post them...

Friday, 20 February 2009

Knitting "can delay" memory loss, BBC

Check this out!

Just wondering though, how can it help if I'm already so forgetful in my twenties?

Knit update:
Chantilly baby blankie has been completed and washed. I really like the squishyness of the yarn.

Also started on a little shrug - I needed a break from knitting so decided to make this simple crochet shrug using my Sublime cashmere merino aran in a nice olive green. My mom actually started a project with this top but she didn't touch for about a year so I frogged it one day and kept the yarn. I dont think she even remembers starting this project so it's okay. Details on Ravelry.

I really need to find time at home to put all my pictures together. I have pictures to post on the Vanna throw and Chantilly blankie and perhaps a picture update on current WIPs...

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Knit shopping impulse... Help!!

Uh-oh... I have a sudden urge to do some damage to my yarn diet.

I've been good for the past few months. Haven't bought anything craft-related (except for some magazines) since 2 Dec! And my last purchase was 5 skeins from The Plucky Knitter. I think I deserve a pat on the back for being so "disciplined".

I think I tend to stick to my yarn diets better than food diets. Can't help it. One needs to eat to survive. And if one is going to eat, might as well make it a good meal.

So my mind is filled with all sorts of ideas on what sort of yarn to buy, what new project shall I cast on, should I make another throw to match the TV room downstairs so I can use it when watching the telly? And on the back of my mind, my conscience is telling me that I have loads of yarn sitting around in my room and I might never be able to reduce my stash (actually the thought of being swamped by yarn makes me happy).

What I need to buy are DPNs.... Just realised I actually have only 1 set of 4mm bamboos! Never really had a reason to buy DPNs since I dont make socks. Hmmm all the "reasons" why I need to visit Jet Sun today.... Hehehe... We'll see. Maybe I'll pop by at lunch time.

Quick knit update:
Been working on the Chantilly baby blankie as often as I can (which is not much on weekdays). I'm about 75% done I think and am on my 3rd skein. I'd bought 4 skeins of Katia Chantilly for this blankie but looks like I'll need no more than 3 skeins for it. Am now planning a small baby hat for the 4th skein.

Now back to work!

Friday, 13 February 2009

How to justify why we knit while watching TV

A quote from someone on Ravelry:

"I went to a marriage conference taught by a psychologist, and he said that men love when we just sit with them while they're doing something like watching tv, but it's hard for women to just sit and not talk too much. Maybe knitting is the solution."

Yup, I definitely fit in the category of not being able to sit and not talk. Knitting keeps me from getting fidgety, especially when we're watching a movie that I dont like. If the lights in the cinema weren't so dim, I'd knit there too. Maybe I should keep practicing knitting without looking. Let's start with my simple garter stitch Chantilly baby blankie.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The YWCA Vocational Training Opportunity Centre

I was flipping through today's papers and came across this article about the YWCA Vocational Training Opportunity Centre (VTOC) and found the story touching. That set me off googling for their website and also found their brochure. It's things like these that just remind of how lucky I am and have been all my life. I was just wondering if there was any way in which I could contribute, apart from donations.

As part of our church teen outreach program, the then 15-year-old me used to teach English and Maths every alternate Sunday to less fortunate kids somewhere in Puchong (Puchong has changed so much over the years so I really can't remember where that little kampung is anymore). Although that was where I learnt I dont have the patience to make teaching a profession, I still had fun with the kids and it was also very emotionally rewarding. And an eye opener too to us "city kids" who are used to the "finer things in life" that there are loads of people out there who had more pressing problems in life.

A few years ago on a Christmas outreach program, we visited the squatter areas where some of the immigrants/refugees from Myanmar lived. We saw how these people lived in appalling conditions, were cheated by agents or employers and are forced to be on the run from the authorities all the time. What struck me the most was that despite all the difficulties they faced, they were such a happy, earnest and friendly bunch.

I guess having all the riches in life doesn't necessarily mean that one is happier. Time to take a step back, think about how we live our lives currently and of course - are we happy?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Piggin' Out: Floyd's Brasserie at Burasari, Phuket

Restaurant: Floyd's Brasserie at Burasari, Phuket
Location: Patong, Phuket
Cuisine: Classic French

Rommel mentioned that Keith Floyd, whose travel escapades I have been following since my Sky TV days in London, had a restaurant in Phuket. So of course we had to try it! It's located in the chic Burasari hotel, about a 15 minute walk from our hotel, just off the main Patong Beach road.

The restaurant had a very cosy setting with a Mediterranean feel to it (the blue and white tiles on the floor remind me of Greece). Not noisy but you can hear the gentle chatter of fellow customers.

The bread basket was served with a selection very light and creamy butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar combo and a sundried tomatoes spread. We first thought that the tomato spread was some sort of sambal (we were in Thailand after all so we thought he might have made some sort of fusion concoction).
For starters, I had the poached eggs with burguncy sauce, topped with a sprinkling of croutons and chopped bacon bits. I loved it. Shen, I think you'll enjoy it too. It's eggs with red wine and bacon. What can possibly go wrong??

Rommel had the panfried foie gras on bruschetta. Simple, classic French. Served with grilled asparagus and salad with balsamic dressing.

For mains, I had the panfried duck. While I found the duck too fatty and not panfried enough (the skin was rather tough and not crisp at all), I loved the vegetables with bacon that came with it. Reminds me of the home-cooked meals we got in Lourdes.

Rommel was on a foie gras roll (again) and had the tenderloin with foie gras. Meat slightly overdone vs his requested medium and slightly tough but you cant compared it to kobe or wagyu!!

All served with new potatoes and veg on the side.

Was it within expectations? I'd say yes. It looks pretty much like how Floyd's food looks on tv!

Would I go back? Probably but just to have the poached eggs and the vegetables. The meal wasn't cheap though - cost us ~Bt4000 or ~RM400 for both of us.

Although, we did have like 2 bottles of sparkling water, 2 coconuts and a mocktail because we were really really thirsty after spending the whole afternoon walking around Patong.

Shen, would you want to try?

Knit update: Vanna throw is completed!

I finally completed the last row of single crochet for the border of my Vanna throw at midnight last night. What a joy (and relief!) to finally be able to make sure of it. But it needs to be washed and blocked first of course. Then come the pictures!

On other projects, I actually took the long-forgotten Kusa shawl with me to Phuket. I started it in Lourdes in June last year, shortly after purchasing the yarn in iKnit London. It was meant to be my travel project since I'm using my 5mm Clover bamboo hook (for safety reasons since metal knitting needles have a higher chance of getting confiscated on flights) but I rarely touch this project. Perhaps its because this is a "for me" project with no deadline so there's never a sense of urgency to finish it.

How I wish I had more time to knit.... Only got home at 9pm yesterday from work so I was only able to finish that little ending bit of Vanna throw and do 2 rows of my secret baby project before I got too tired. Sigh.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

CNY 2009

What I look forward to every year for Chinese New Year is my aunt's cooking at the Reunion Dinner with my dad's side of the family. See, I was so hungry, I took all but 3 pictures and started gobbling away.

With my mom's side, we also had a yummy Reunion Lunch with homemade yee sang by Auntie Poh Har.

At the Lim family Reunion Lunch, we also played with my new Bubble Machine! Look at how happy Nicholas was!
... and Rommel as well. Kid at heart.

We also had a yee sang at our CNY party. Here's Mom with Auntie Kat and Auntie Pat.
And finally, a pic of me with Uncle James' D300. So heavy compared to my D50!!

I finally made it to Phuket!

After 2 unsuccessful attempts to visit Phuket (the first time round, if I had made it, I would have been there when the tsunami struck so I'm thankful I didnt go that time!) (the second time has been documented here and here), I've finally visited Phuket.

Spent the long Thaipusam weekend there with Rommel, flew there via AirAsia and stayed at the lovely (but expensive) Impiana Phuket Cabana Resort & Spa. The hotel was cosy, had friendly staff and the perfect location as it was one of the very few hotels right on Patong Beach itself. Close to everything that's important (the beach, the bars and restaurants and the shops).

We took the 1-day tour of Phi Phi Ley, Phi Phi Don and Khai Nok Island.

This is the sight that greeted us at Khai Nok Island....

While the hotel's Patong Beach frontage was pretty good too (although this was taken at 7.30am when the crowds had not overtaken the beach yet!).

Maya Bay (where the Leo DiCaprio film, The Beach, was filmed) was also pretty but there were just too many tourists for me to handle. It was seriously crowded and noisy and we only got about half an hour to play there so it wasn't much fun.

Food-wise, we had the ubiquitous phad thai at some small back alley cafe on our first day.

And I also ordered the stir fried minced pork with basil leaves because at home, it's always chicken. One of my greatest joy was finding this place just down the road from the hotel which had Japanese soft cream! Too bad I suffered from tummy upset for the remaining 2 days of the trip so dairy produce was off limits (I'm lactose intolerant).

More pictures on Facebook.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Knit update: Too many WIPs

I've been overambitious. I know it. At last count on Ravelry, I have 9 WIPs outstanding, some in hibernation since I have not touched them in ages. And this does not include my latest project - a little secret for a friend who is expecting. She already know what I'm making since I regularly update her on my progress but I can't say more here.

Apart from this baby project, I have just realised I have 3 other friends who will become first time mothers over the next 2-4 months. So many babies, so little knitting time! I can't decide what to make since wool jumpers and mittens aren't the most practical in our tropical weather!

Baby blankets? Are they practical?
Baby booties? Will they fit?
Soft toys? I did think of little arugurumi crochet stuff. Always wanted to try making them.

On the other WIPs:
I'm finally making progress on my Vanna throw. Have cast off and am now single crocheting the border so that it hopefully doesn't curl up as much at the edges. It's really nice and warm, serves it purpose when I need a light blankie to take naps in. I have a feeling I'm going to start another throw once I'm done with this one.

My feather and fan stole is in the office with me today although I rarely knit at work. I'm still confused about this one. I love the yarn and I like the pattern but somehow I'm not too happy with how the stole is turning out. I fear I'll run out of yarn before the stole gets to a decent length so I'm now seriously considering frogging the whole thing and starting over. This time with bigger needles and a lace pattern with a lot of holes. I dont know. Still thinking about it.

The drawstring raglan, which essentially uses a variant of the feather and fan pattern, has been put on hold for the secret project and for what other baby stuff I decide to make.

Okay that's it! Rommel and I are off the Phuket tomorrow for some sun and relaxation..

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Quickie Lunch at Santerri Cottage, Pavilion

Busy at work but I just wanted to take a short break from trying to understand an inherited model.

When I have no lunch plans or just feel like chilling on my own during lunchtime, one of the places I like to frequent is Santerri Cottage in Pavilion KL. It's the cafe inside the Times bookstore on Level 6.

Why do I think this is an ideal lunch spot?

- It's quiet, i.e. perfect for time to myself or to have a nice chat with some friends.

- Also great for reading since not many distractions. You're allowed to take books and magazines from anywhere in the store and read them (although I usually end up buying them anyway. Like today, I bought the latest issue of Interweave Knits and Knit Simple. I wasn't planning to buy them because I find barely any relevance between the tropical Malaysian weather and the Winter issues. But, as I browsed through the books, I found some patterns that I liked and justified my purchase by the fact that I have not done much knitting-related shopping for a while now.

- The food is simple and nice. Just sandwiches and salads with a decent selection of coffees and teas. Price-wise, my lunch set of a sandwich, some coleslaw salad and a cup of English Breakfast tea cost Rm13.90. Not bad considering you're paying for airconditioning and free reading materials from an entire bookstore.

For pictures and an article about Santerri in the Star, click here.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Trivandrum trip in a snapshot

Last month, we were in Trivandrum, Kerala, India for Rommel's cousin, Nicky's wedding.

It was a Catholic wedding held in St Therese Lisieux Church of Trivandrum so I didn't get to witness the full scale, Hindi-movie style wedding. But, it was a really sweet and simple affair and it was fun meeting all the relatives.

The wedding lunch was typical Keralan fare: buffet spread consisting appam (which ran out by the time I got to the queue), veg rice, fried chicken, mutton curry (yum!!), fish moilee (a bit too watery for my liking) and an assortment of veg somethings (I dont remember the names!).

We also had other meals with the family. Here we are in a vegetarian restaurant called Ariya Nivaas in Trivandrum.

(L-R): Auntie Celine, Auntie Iris, Nicky, me and Rommel

(L-R): Colin, Auntie Iris, Nicky, me and Rommel.

Their veg thali meal costs 60 rupees (RM4.60) and tastes good! I especially loved the rassam (sort of like a spiced soup).

Here's what Rommel and I wore for the wedding. My silk salwar was bought the day before at Parthas, one of the leading clothing retailers in Trivandrum. I spent so much money there... Ooops...

Rommel's outfit was bought at some craft place our driver took us to...
And I wore another one of my newly-purchased salwars for Auntie Iris' surprise birthday party the next night. Salwars are so comfy to wear and pretty flattering too! Highly recommended for fat days!