SEIZE THE DAY!

seize the day

special thanks to Jon for taking me to Koh Phangan for my twenty-fourth birthday.
Photo is taken using the iPhone 6 :)

Advertisements

free up your wardrobe space!

I don’t have vintage looking hangers nor do I sort my clothes by colours so…bear with my wardrobe on this one!

IMG_8821 copy2

Does your clothes wardrobe (assuming that you’re a girl, of course) look something like the above? I have lots of skirts since Singapore is pretty warm and humid and hence, I wear skirts to work everyday. Since most of them are work skirts, they have to be hung up after they’re ironed and so…

IMG_8821 copy

as you’ve probably already guessed, lots of wasted space! Because my family is large, wardrobe space is generally really limited and each of us are restricted to a pretty tiny wardrobe which also means that…there’s not enough space! In this tutorial, I’ll be sharing a simple little thing you could do do maximise the space you have by utilising that wasted space right there! After you’re done, your wardrobe will look something like this…

IMG_8827 copy

Wasted space utilised and…much more space to put even more skirts! :) Trust me, if you have the right tools, it won’t take you more than 15 minutes to get from raw materials to final product.

So, here goes…

Supplies:
– wood dowel (you should measure what will work well for your cupboard. Mine is 40 cm with a 3cm diameter)
– saw and sand paper (only if your wood dowels are not already to size)
– pencil
– drill
– brown twine (or any sturdy string you would like to use)
– tape

IMG_8805 copy

Every cupboard is different so it’s always good to measure what will work best for you. If your dowel isn’t to size, trim it down using a saw and sand the rough edges down.

IMG_8811 copy

Using a pencil, mark the position, on both sides of the dowel, where you would drill your hole. Mine was about 0.5cm from the edge. Using a power drill and with a bit that is just large enough so that you can fit your string of choice, drill through approximately three-quarters through on one side, turn the dowel around and drill through the other side. This method will drastically reduce the amount of splinters. Sand down if necessary and do the same for the other side.

IMG_8814 copy

Using your choice of string, measure approximately the length of string required. Cut 2 lengths of the string, bearing in mind to cut longer than you need. Thread your choice of string through the hole. If you find it difficult to thread it through like I did, wrap the tips with tape and string it through. It acts like a mini needle. Tie many dead knots at the bottom to ensure that string stays in position. Do this for the other side as well.

Bring your dowel to your wardrobe and secure one side first by tying a dead knot at the top. Secure the other side, ensuring that the dowels are even on both sides and you’re done!

Have a fun weekend ahead :)

polaroid frame for the polaroid lover!

IMG_8694 copy

For my younger sister’s birthday present a while ago, I bought her a polaroid camera, back when polaroid cameras had just gotten really popular and since then, her polaroid camera has been extremely well utilised and she has accumulated a pretty huge stack of them so far. Polaroids, on it’s own, have their own wow factor and what better way to display them by using some simple materials! 

Supplies:
– 4 wood planks (mine were 2 x 50cm and 2 x 60cm)
– pencil
– drill with drill bit
– sandpaper
staple gun
(I’m guessing that you can use wood glue as well)
– paint + paint brush
wire (i used 22 gauge wire)
mini pegs

IMG_8529 copy

1. Put the 2 wood planks that will be the height of your polaroid frame side by side. I wanted my polaroid frame to be rectangular so the height of the frame is the 50cm wood planks. I just realised that the picture isn’t so accurate as I was making 2 frames at once and hence drilling 4 wood planks as shown in the picture so if you’re only making 1, you should just have 2 at this point. Putting the 2 wood planks side by side, use a pencil to mark out the areas where you’ll be drilling, i.e. where the wires will be strung through. For the 8.5cm x 5.5cm polaroids, 10cm between the wires is a good height. After marking both wood planks on one side, do this for the other side too.

2. Using a drill and a small drill bit (I used the smallest one since the wires are really thin) drill through the areas you’ve marked. I find that it is better to drill approximately three quarters through on one side, turn the plank around and drill through from the other side. It reduces the amount of splinters as compared to drilling right through.

3. Sand all 4 planks smooth.

IMG_8532 copy

4. Align one of the wood planks you’ve drilled holes through with another that you didn’t. Putting this on a flat surface, use your staple gun and punch in 2 staples to join the wood together, ensuring that the holes you’ve drilled through is facing inward. Do this on the other side as well. Aligning the rest of the wood pieces, do this for all 4 sides (back and front) to form the frame.

IMG_8534 copy

5. Using a paint brush with soft bristles to reduce paint streaks, paint the whole frame. Depending on the colour of your wood, you might have to paint 2 coats of paint.

IMG_8662 copy

6. Approximately measure how much wire you’ll need to go around and string it through the frame. For both ends, wrap the wire round to the end and use a staple gun to secure it to the frame. Working your way through the frame, string the wire through the frame. Ensure that you pull the wire taut on the frame and to do this, pull the wire as hard as possible and quickly bend it. Once you’ve bent the wire, it’ll stay taut.

7. Hang up your polaroids using mini pegs. 

And lastly, get the seal of approval from your resident cat :) 

IMG_8684 copy

A dummy’s guide to carving rubber stamps and fabric printing

IMG_8646 copy

If you haven’t read the last post, “A dummy’s guide to using a speedball linoleum cutter”, do read it as it forms the basis for this post on how to carve rubber stamps.

After completing the “house” series of tea towels, I must say that I absolutely can’t stop carving more rubber stamps! The process is really addictive and therapeutic and I now have way more rubber stamps than blank tea towels to stamp on. Carving rubber stamps requires just a gentle learning curve so here’s a quick tutorial on how I’ve done my rubber stamps so that you don’t commit the mistakes I made while figuring it out on my own :)

IMG_8597 copy

Draw your design on paper. To start, you’ll want to draw a relatively simple design like the above. Here are some suggestions to help you start to brainstorm. I’ve also found it nice to make a few related stamps (3-4) which you can stamp alternately.

– Shapes: chevron, herringbone, triangles, rectangles, geometric shapes, abstract shapes, stripes, polka dots, leaves, feathers
– Themes: houses, kitchen utensils, teapots, animals

If you’re not confident of drawing (like me :P), it helps to search on sites like pinterest, google images or stock photo sites like getty images and add the word “illustration” behind what you’re searching for and it’ll generate cartoon-like pictures (example: “kitchen utensils illustration” on google images) that are much easier to gain inspiration from.

After drawing a test design on a piece of paper, replicate it on your rubber carving block using a pencil.

IMG_8604 copy

Once you’re happy with your design, outline your pencil marks with a ballpoint or gel pen. Don’t use an ink pen as it’ll smudge easily.

Next, imagine how you would want your stamp to look like. Specifically, think about which parts of your stamp you would like to print ink and which you want to be blank (i.e. negative space). Color in the parts of your stamp that you’ll want to print ink. Compare the picture of my colored-in stamp to the final product in the first picture and you’ll see that the colored-in stamp is essentially how your printed stamp will look like. This is important so that you don’t carve off the parts you want to leave on. After you’re done, use an x-acto knife or pen knife to cut out your design from the carving block, keeping in mind to leave ample space on all sides of your design.

IMG_8606 copy

Using your speedball linoleum cutter, start carving the details of the rubber stamp. If you’re not sure how to use your speedball linoleum cutter, read this guide! I would usually start by using tip 2 to outline the portions I want to cut out so that the shape has a nice edge (I’ll come back to this again) but for this design I’ve drawn, I just had to do a straight carve on each of the small rectangles.

IMG_8611 copy

After carving the details in your design, start carving the remaining portions of the rubber stamp. If you look at the picture closely, you’ll notice that I’ve cut out the outline of the design. I find it best to do this using tip 2 as it creates a nice edge for your stamp. After which, you can start to remove the rest of the rubber stamp. To do this efficiently, I use tip 5 and if you look at the picture closely, I’ve held it at an angle to cover a wider area.

IMG_8614 copy

You’ll want to take special care to cave out the 4 edges of the rubber stamp. I find that those areas tend to get on the fabric paint. The above picture is my completed rubber stamp! The areas which have been carved off is not neat and it doesn’t need to be. You just need to ensure that it is carved deep enough so that the only thing you’re printing is your design and not other parts of your rubber stamp. A good way to test it is to face the stamp down on a table and look to see if there’s anything else still touching the table.

IMG_8622 copy

Next you’ll want to test out the stamp. There are quite a few brands of fabric paint out there and I’ve tried 2 brands so far – Speedball’s oil-based fabric paint which I used for this post and Dylon’s fabric paint for the “house” series and while they’re both fabric paints, the consistency is really different.

Speedball’s oil-based paint is thick, and because of its consistency, it is a necessity to use a rubber brayer to smoothen out the paint and to apply the paint on the stamp by rolling the rubber brayer over the stamp. The paint is pretty sticky and will stick to the rubber stamp well, giving you a nice clean print. On the other hand, it can get messy if it gets all over your hands. Dylon’s fabric paint, on the other hand, is much more watery and if you didn’t own a rubber brayer, you could use a paint brush to smoothen out the paint and dab your stamp directly onto the fabric paint. The paint is easier to handle but does not stick to the rubber stamp as well and you’ll have to constantly check to ensure that you have an adequate about of fabric paint on your stamp. But, no matter what you choose, testing is the most important and with adequate testing, your prints will come out equally nice :)

IMG_8623 copy

Using a scrap piece of cloth, on top of scrap paper, but using the same material as that of the cloth you want to print on, attempt printing! Don’t worry too much about having to succeed the first time. Depending on the consistency of your fabric paint, you might have to adjust the way you apply the fabric paint onto your stamp but trust me, it’s not that difficult! 

After applying the fabric paint onto the stamp, look at the stamp closely to see if there’s fabric paint everywhere before printing. To print, carefully lay your stamp onto the cloth and press firmly. Leave on for a couple of seconds and lift up carefully. Apply fabric paint before every print. I like printing my designs in a somewhat orderly fashion but you can print randomly if you like. If you’re particular about wanting the designs to be perfectly placed, tear off a long piece of tape and use that as an alignment guide. When you’re done, leave to dry and iron on over your design to set the colour.

Looking at the picture above, I would consider the print on the left to be a good and neat print while the one on the right has definitely too little fabric paint and if you look at the stamp, you’ll notice some blue fabric paint on the right side of the stamp. This means that those areas are not deep enough. You can either use your linoleum cutter to shave those off, or clean it off after every print. 

Wash off your rubber stamps and rubber brayer with soap and water. The rubber stamps may be a little sticky when dry so wrap between cling wrap or foil to keep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this tutorial and if you’ve tried fabric printing yourself, I would love to see your designs! :) 

IMG_8656 copy

A dummy’s guide to using a speedball linoleum cutter (to carve rubber stamps)

IMG_8561

While I was making the “house” series fabric block printing tea towels I shared in my last post, I struggled a little, trying to figure out how to use the Speedball Linoleum Cutter I had to carve the rubber stamps. I googled and watched youtube videos and still I was pretty much clueless. The resources I found online seems to only focus on how to carve the rubber stamps and not how to use the cutter itself. Hence, I’m hoping that for all of you who are still trying to figure out the basics like I was, here’s a quick tutorial to show you the ins and outs of the speedball linoleum cutter.

IMG_8564

When you first remove the cutter out of the package, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the metal-on-metal clanking sounds. That’s because the handle of the tool is hollow inside, allowing you to store all the different tips. Unscrew the base of the tool (you’ll see grooves) anti-clockwise and the base will loosen. Carefully pour out all of your tips.

IMG_8566

If you look on the other side, you’ll notice a large metal screw. That is where you’ll attach the tips. When you look right inside, you’ll notice a metal ball in the middle with a U shaped piece of metal, followed by a smaller U shaped piece of metal hugging the metal ball. The tip will slot in between the metal ball and the shorter U shaped metal piece.

IMG_8573

IMG_8591

To attach the tip, unscrew anti-clockwise. You don’t have to unscrew all the way, but just enough to slot the tip inside. Facing the side of the tip which says “Speedball Cutter” downwards, push the tip all the way in. Screw it clockwise to tighten. Everything should fit perfectly with the tip tightly secured to the handle.

IMG_8585

If you’ve unscrewed too much and the metal pieces have fallen out, don’t panic! You can easily put them back by aligning the two metal pieces together and screwing it back on.

IMG_8592

To carve on the rubber stamp, hold the speedball cutter such that the cutter resembles a spade and drag it across the carving block. I find that the Speedball Speedy-Carve Block works really well! It is effortless to glide the cutter through, is adequately thick to hold the rubber stamp easily while stamping and the smooth surface allows the fabric paint to stick on easily as well. 

IMG_8594

If you look closely on the back of each tip, there is a number. The larger the number, the larger the tip and the tips are used in combination to carve out different parts of the rubber stamp, depending on how much you want to carve out. The different tips also differ in terms of width and depth. You’ll notice that I don’t have a number 4 tip – honestly, I’m not sure if it was missed out in my package or if I’ve misplaced it but oh wells, these 4 tips are more than sufficient to carve out any rubber stamp.

Tip 1 – for very fine details. So far, I find this tip unnecessary. It doesn’t shave a lot of rubber out and doesn’t cut deeply either.

Tip 2 – I use this tip for the finer details as well as carving the outline of my stamp. It gives a really nice deep cut with a relatively small width.

Tip 3 – I use this tip for carving out larger areas.

Tip 5 – I use this tip most when carving out the larger areas. i.e. areas outside the design of the stamp. It is able to cut deeply but I find myself tilting the cutter and using one side of the cutter instead so that it cuts a lot at once.

Tip 6 – You’ll see tip 6 in the first picture of this post. It resembles a spade-looking cutter. I’ve not used this tip at all but I’m guessing it’ll do the job of an x-acto knife.

If you’re interesting in carving out rubber stamps, I strongly suggest the speedball linoleum cutter. It is easy to use, relatively inexpensive and is durable. The only thing you’ll need to do is to go slow and practice! Start with a relatively easy design followed by more complex ones when you’ve gained confidence :)

Good luck! Stay tuned for my next post on a guide to carve rubber stamps! :) 

diy fabric block printing tea towels

IMG_8496I spent a good part of last saturday at a housewarming party for one of my closest friends. Since we were all on the topic of houses, I thought it fitting to gift her a set of “house” themed tea towels :)

IMG_8506 copy

I must say that these tea towels were much easier to make than I thought.

I had purchased a fabric block printing Darby Smart DIY set a while ago which came with ready made cotton tea towels, fabric paint, a speedball rubber stamp carving tool and a carving block. I had procrastinated for a long time because…I am not that good at drawing and was just a little afraid to start! I am still surprised that when I finally decided to give this a go, I went full steam into sewing the cloth and designing and carving my own stamps. And, by the time I was done with the 3 tea towels, I was officially addicted to fabric block printing and already have a few sketched ideas on what to do next :)

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do fabric block printing and for those who require more instruction, I intend to do a more detailed tutorial on how to carve rubber stamps in my next post!


Carving Rubber Stamps

Supplies to carve rubber stamps:
Rubber carving block/ large eraser
– pen knife/ x-acto knife
– linoleum cutter
– ballpoint pen
– pencil
– paper

Instructions for carving rubber stamps:
1. Sketch your designs on paper, bearing in mind that details and sharp edges are harder to cut out. I previously wanted the windows in my houses to look like a grid but found it too difficult to carve those small little squares out.
2. On the rubber carving block, using a pencil, re-sketch your design on the carving block. If you’ve sketched more than 1 design on your carving block, use a pen knife or x-acto knife to cut out rectangular blocks such that each design is on one block, ensuring ample space on all sides of your design.
3. With a ballpoint pen, trace out the pencil marks. At this point, imagine how you want your stamp to look like. Specifically, imagine which spaces you would like the stamp to be blank (i.e. negative space) and which spaces you would like the stamp to print ink. In general, I find that stamps with little negative space (i.e. the first stamp from the left in the picture below) and a wider printing surface are more difficult to print evenly, while stamps with a somewhat equal area of negative space and printing surface looks the nicest and is easiest to print. On areas that you would like the stamp to print ink, color/ shade those areas. It’ll serve as a good guide as you carve out the negative space.
4. Using your carving tool, carve out the negative space i.e. spaces that you’ve not colored in. I use a speedball tool and I tend to use the deeper cutter (i.e. no. 3) to cut around the edges first, followed by using the wider or narrower cutter (i.e. no. 2, 3 or 4) to remove the negative space. Pay careful attention to the edges of the stamp – they tend to get ink on them easily – and carve them deeper.

IMG_8484

Printing on Tea Towels

Supplies to hem tea towels:
– sewing machine with thread and a narrow hem foot (or hem manually)
– cloth (I used a 100% cotton cloth)

IMG_8467

IMG_8466 Instructions to hem tea towels:

1. Cut the tea towels to size. I cut the tea towels 47cm by 67cm including a 1cm seam allowance all around.
2. Using the sewing machine and a hem foot, hem all 4 sides of the tea towel. Alternatively, fold the hems manually and sew a straight stitch through.

Supplies to block print on tea towels
– hemmed tea towels
– spare fabric (for testing)
– carved rubber stamps
– aluminimum foil (or any material that fabric paint won’t seep through)
– fabric paint
rubber brayer (or anything round to spread the fabric ink)
– scrap paper
– tape (optional)

IMG_8488

IMG_8487

Instructions to block print on tea towels:
1. Lay the scrap paper on a flat surface to absorb residual paint from the fabric and lay your fabric on top, ensuring that your hems are on the right side up.
2. On aluminium foil, or any material that fabric paint won’t seep through, pour a generous amount of fabric paint. Using a soft rubber brayer or anything around your house, spread the fabric paint all over the aluminium foil.
3. If you intend to print your design straight, like how I did with the houses, use tape to create a straight line. This will help guide you when you’re stamping.
4. With your rubber stamp face side down, dab it on the foil of fabric paint. You can also use the soft rubber brayer to roll on your stamp but I find the best way to dab my stamp on the fabric paint and looking to ensure that there’s paint on the rubber stamp. If any paint falls on the edges of the rubber stamp, wipe it away with a cloth or tissue paper or it might get on the fabric.
5. Carefully turn your rubber stamp downwards, aim and stamp carefully. Lift up after 2-3 seconds or so. Don’t be too worried that your stamp doesn’t print perfectly every time – sometimes that’s what makes them handmade! But if you feel that there’s too little paint on the fabric, you can try stamping over it again, making sure that you’ve aligned the stamps
6. Put aside until dry. They dry pretty quickly but it’ll be safer to let it sit on its own for about 15 minutes.

david lebovitz’s banana bread

IMG_8553

Last week, my brother said to me…”I feel like eating banana bread. The ones with chocolate chips inside.”

And there you have it. I’m such a good sister!

IMG_8543

David Lebovitz’s recipes are dummy proof. In fact, whenever I bake his recipes and receive compliments like “you’re such a talented baker” or “this must be so hard to bake!” or “this is my favorite cake ever!”, I always feel a little guilty because it seriously isn’t the work of my hands nor brain, but his recipe. You could almost take the list of ingredients and mix them all up and you’ll get something nice. Ok…that’s a little far fetched. BUT, for my friends who have just started baking, I always tell them to use David Lebovitz’s recipes because once you understand simple terms like “sift” and “fold”, you’ll almost always succeed. That’s if you don’t mistake sugar for salt :P

 

When making this recipe, do ensure that you use very ripe bananas – it’ll make the banana bread so much more fragrant. If you find that after baking this recipe that your banana bread lack the banana flavor or fragrance, it would usually mean that the bananas you’ve used is not ripe enough. Also, for the chocolate chips, I use Ghiradelli’s 60% bittersweet chocolate baking chips. They’re my favorite brand of chocolate chips because they taste absolutely wonderful and are huge! Most importantly, toast/ microwave the banana bread just before eating – the banana bread will be more fragrant and the chocolate will be oozy. 

IMG_8541We grow a banana tree in the garden and a few times a year, the banana tree bears fruit and every time that happens, we struggle to finish up the bananas. We’ve tried various methods of preserving the bananas like freezing them but it just isn’t the same! We end up making loaves and loaves of banana bread. My point is that…through the seasons, we’ve tried a few banana bread recipes and David Lebovitz’s recipe stands out from all the rest. Quite a few of the banana bread recipes out there are quite crumbly but this banana bread’s texture is delightfully spongy. For some, the chocolate chips are a turn off and if you’re one of them, just omit them! 

By now, you’ve probably noticed the tea towel used for these photos. Will be blogging about it in the next post :) 

New York Cheesecake

IMG_8457

(picture note: credits to my mom for her beautiful orchids!)

If you’re looking for a dense cheesecake with an oreo base and a wonderful lemony flavour, today is your lucky day :)

I had previously shared about the high expectations my family has of me when it comes to their birthday cakes. Thankfully, Jon is really quite an easy man to please. His birthday cake was not only not a surprise to him, since he had long requested for this cake, accompanied me to buy the ingredients, and almost even paid for the ingredients, until I responded with a resounding NO. Yet, he is still happiest with this cake, counting down to the day that he would finally get a slice all to himself.

IMG_8441

I still remember the times when I almost solely relied on Martha Stewart’s recipes ( I think it was because her site was easy to navigate and I was afraid of venturing out) and decided to try out her cheesecake recipe although I was (and still am) a self-proclaimed not-a-fan of cheesecake. Executing it was just like a quest – I had never baked something in the oven for so long, much less having to pour boiling hot water into the tray while the cheesecake is in the oven.

IMG_8451

When I pulled the cheesecake out of the oven the first time, the baked cheesy-lemony-oreo smell permeated the kitchen and I just couldn’t help but continuously run my fingers over the smooth golden top of the cake. When Jon put the first bite of the chilled cheesecake in his mouth, his satisfied grin made me realise that from then on, this recipe would definitely be a staple in my repertoire. And it has, having baked this countless times.


New York Cheesecake
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Classic Cheesecake and Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake recipe

The Oreo Base
Ingredients:
9 oz oreo cookies (measured without the cream in the middle)
6 tbsp (or 28g) melted butter

Instructions:
1. Preheat your oven to 325°F or 165°C.
2. Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper.
3. Using a food processor, bamix, or mortar and pestle, pulse the oreo cookies until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl.
4. Bit by bit, pour the melted butter into the ground oreo cookies and using a spoon, mix it all together. At this point, the oreo and butter mixture will resemble a coarse paste.
5. Pour everything into the springform pan and using a spoon, press the oreo down firmly until it covers the entire base of the springform pan evenly.
6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take it out of the oven and set aside. The temperature used to cook for the filling is the same as above so adjustments to the oven temperature will not be needed.

The Cheesecake Filling
Ingredients:
2.5 lbs bar cream cheese, room temperature
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
grated lemon zest of one lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice (the lemon quantity I put is is triple of what Martha suggests but we like it this way)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream

Instructions:
1. Set a kettle of water to boil.
2. Put the cream cheese in a stand mixer and on medium, mix cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
3. With the stand mixer on low, pour the granulated sugar into the cream cheese bit by bit. When done, allow it to continue mixing to ensure that everything is well incorporated. Add the salt.
4. Stop the stand mixer. Using a grater, grate the lemon zest directly into the batter. Quite a bit of the flavour of the zest gets lost if this is done in advance since zest dries up pretty quickly so I find it best to grate it directly. A little more or less doesn’t kill :)
5. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze out the lemon juice. I usually squeeze it directly into the batter, making sure that none of the seeds fall in. If you’re afraid that it’ll be too sour, put less first and you can add more after adding in the sour cream.
6. With the stand mixer on medium, add the eggs one by one, ensuring that everything is incorporated well. Add in the sour cream. At this stage, I would recommend that you taste the filling and add more lemon if desired, as I usually do.
7. Wrap the sides of the springform pan with foil. Do ensure that the foil is tightly wrapped around till at least half the height of the springform pan. Pour the filling into the springform pan.
8. Put the springform pan on top of a roasting pan and put this in the middle of the oven. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan, ensuring that the water does not go above the foil on the springform pan. I do not suggest that you put the roasting pan while the oven is preheating as the boiling water will sizzle on the roasting pan as you’re pouring it in – this is really dangerous!
9. Bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes. The cheesecake is ready when the top of the cheesecake has a deep golden brown colour and only jiggles very slightly when moved. Leave at room temperature to cool and when it is at room temperature, put the cheesecake in the refrigerator to chill overnight. Just before serving, remove the foil, run a knife round the sides of the cheesecake and carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In my experience making this cake, it is easy transferring this cake to a cake board or cake stand as the base is quite firm and holds well. After every slice, clean your knife for a neat cut. 

experiencing authentic vietnamese cuisine

i can’t believe it’s been about a month since i came back from the U.S.! Time does really really fly…

As my now brother-in-law’s, Donny, family is Vietnamese, the trip to Kansas for my sister’s wedding was filled with tons of real authentic Vietnamese food. I knew right from the start that I’ve always been a fan of pho – who can’t resist a hot bowl of beef noodles! Back during college days, pho was pretty much a staple for Jon and I, eating a bowl of pho at least once a week. Yet, the pho standard in Singapore has only just been okay and every time we went back to Seattle, pho is definitely on our to-eat-list. 

IMG_7963

Although I’ve eaten many many bowls of pho in my life thus far, my knowledge of vietnamese cuisine is as good as knowing that in typical pho restaurants, the further you go down the list of pho, the more beef parts you get. Hence, I was extremely excited to go to Kansas, not just to attend my sister’s big day, but also to get a taste of authentic vietnamese food. 

IMG_7955

During the stay in Kansas, we were hosted by one of Donny’s relatives, whom we call Aunt Michelle and Uncle Jimmy. As soon as we got to their house, they had started food preparation, preparing boxes of rice paper sheets so that we could start rolling them for lunch the next day. We set around the kitchen counters as we hand-rolled delicious banh uot with fried onions inside. It resembles chee chong fun we see in typical dim sum restaurants and although I’ve eaten this since young, this is definitely one of the dishes I’ve never dreamed of making just because it looks too delicate and too difficult to make. We made trays and trays of this delicious goodness and it wasn’t till lunch the next day did I see how banh uot all comes together. With bean sprouts, cucumber, spring onions, grilled pork, cha lua, a sauce made using fish sauce and a couple of other ingredients, this dish is like nothing i’ve ever tasted before! It was incredibly fresh tasting and all the different textures really came well together.

IMG_7977On a separate note, during my sister’s Singapore wedding, Donny’s parents came over to Singapore and on one of the nights, they made the rice paper sheets from scratch and recreated the same dish in Singapore. Such a pity that I was at work during the preparation and couldn’t see how it is made.

IMG_7972

On one of the other nights in Kansas, Aunt Michelle and Uncle Jimmy, both excellent cooks, decided to hold a competition. Aunt Michelle cooked bun rieu while Uncle Jimmy cooked pho ga. Aunt Michelle served her bun rieu first and boy was it so good! It is a vegetable broth and tastes much healthier than pho. It tasted so good that we kinda forgot all about having a second dish to try and before we knew it, we were too full to stomach anything else. The bun rieu, like the bunh uot is really light tasting, and after eating quite a bit of vietnamese food, I realised that that is actually what I love most about vietnamese food! It’s super awesome to eat great tasting food, but even more awesome to eat nutritious great tasting food :) 

 IMG_8046

We had Uncle Jimmy’s pho for breakfast the next day but…I was too hungry and forgot to take a photo :P For now, drool once more on this other picture I took of Aunt Michelle’s bun rieu :)

IMG_8047

And, with a blink of an eye, we had to say goodbye to Kansas. Till the next time we go to Kansas, I’ll be missing vietnamese food big time :'( (unless i go to vietnam soon, which i’ve been dying to go!) 

IMG_8204

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

diy teepee – learn to create a teepee of any size

cover

Teepee diys have been roaming around the internet for quite a long time now and after seeing how cute they look, I’ve always told myself that when I have a kid in the future, I’ll definitely make one for him/ her. But, I really couldn’t resist my itchy fingers and decided that I had to make one now! And so, I decided that I would make one for Joy!

Continue reading