Monday, 27 February 2012


I've been baking disturbingly a lot recently. Valentine's Day, lunch party at relatives', second attempts because the first batch didn't turn out as expected, and simply because I was bored and didn't feel like doing anything else. I know the last one does sound quite disturbing, but don't worry, there are days that I don't feel like doing anything but staying in bed and watch movies just like everyone else too.

I usually look for recipes for cakes or other pastries and desserts that are easy to make, look fairly simple and rustic, and preferably have some sort of fresh fruit in them. I don't like icing, don't like cupcakes, don't like food colouring. Too cutesy, and I always worry I might get some sort of food poisoning when food is neon green or baby pink.

I felt like poppy seed cake the other night (yes I tend to bake at night and beat eggs for around 8 minutes, sorry neighbours), and found this amazing recipe for lemon poppy seed cake on Smitten Kitchen. Being a smartass I already bought my ingredients before I found a recipe and therefore only had oranges, but it still worked absolutely fine.

I also thinly sliced up one orange to put on top of the cake - gives it quite a festive look, and balances well with the rich cake. For those who are interested in making it, I used a regular springform pan (the cake will become hollow in the middle but who cares when the cake is so good), zest of two oranges and a whole pack of poppy seed (which would be around 1 1/4 cups). I don't mind a lot of poppy seeds at all - I kinda miss German poppy seed cakes, which are pretty much black. But anyway, this cake is absolutely lovely, probably best enjoyed with a cup of tea, and I think it tastes nicer when it's cold too. Polly's friend Marsha definitely liked it because she had it twice, and it was pretty impressive to watch Nilly have her belated birthday cake last night - I don't think she shared much of it, and the quarter of the cake was gone before she knew.

I read this article last week that says baking is like therapy. So true! You have to pay attention to all the steps and also don't want to waste time running around the kitchen to find shit, so you have to be fast and organised. But it's a really calm kind of concentration and gives you enough time to think while not getting too involved with it. I loved watching the texture of the 8 egg yolks and one whole egg for this cake change during the 8 minutes of beating. Whatever my problems were, it was pretty satisfying to see the end result, which really was "pale yellow and very fluffy", almost like whipped cream.

I guess some would really find me disturbing now.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Just us cruising around the city on a day off. We usually go out for dinner, so we thought we could do with a bit of daytime Sydney for a change and had yum cha for lunch at Zilver, shopped around liquor and kitchenware stores (so Toby, such a workaholic. Although I immersed myself in the bakeware section straight away too ha), had afternoon drinks at Stitch, and enjoyed the long walks in between. By the time the city crowd could take over the eating and drinking houses we were back at home, cooking dinner and watching a movie. Yes, that's all we need to have a happy day off.

Well that Tuesday just happened to be Valentine's Day. We both agreed on how shamelessly commercial that day can be and decided to keep it low key (I tend to say every day should be Valentine's Day and am pretty satisfied that the actual V Day wasn't much different from our other days off). It's almost a dilemma: it would be kinda weird not to think of it as "Valentine's Day" and not wanting to do something nice together, but it's just so gay when shop assistants ask if you're after a last minute gift or what your plans are for tonight, see people rush down the streets with shopping bags (just like when they do last minute Christmas shopping!), and go to completely packed restaurants to enjoy some romantic time with another two million couples sitting shoulder to shoulder to you. Like totally romantic.

My boyfriend gave me a bicycle. One that he built, with an old frame of his, and the prettiest and most thoughtful details (Brooks leather saddle! Cork handles! Shopping basket! Flat pedals so I can ride barefoot! And even one of the original wheels!). He kept it cool all morning and didn't say anything, just mentioned he had to see one of his friends at his bike shop before we'd go to the city (thanks Karl for taking part in the mission!), and there it was. I couldn't stop grinning all day. It was almost a V Day crime to make the day so memorable with such an amazing gift. On the other hand, thank God it's not memorable because he gave me roses and chocolate; I would've been so disappointed. I'm just trying to sound cool here - my heart still jumps whenever I see it in my sunroom or take it out for a spin. I'm in love with it and super protective of it, and I guess you can imagine why. Last night I didn't speak to T during our ride home from Hana and Jason's because he jokingly said I should take better care of my bike when I put my bag in the basket and the bike fell over.

It's so beautiful. You're so beautiful.

My Bumblebee (now that the black details are gone I renamed it the blonde Bumblebee) and T's Mady. They get to stay in the best room in the house!

My presents were pretty lame compared to Bumblebee. Well at least now T has a nice box to store his watch and cufflinks, and you might spot him wearing my tie at work some time. All carefully selected after raiding numerous Salvos stores. Didn't we agree on low key?



Lunar New Year, 2012

It was lovely to be at home again after another year in Sydney, especially to see my sister, who's grown up so much while I'd been gone. It was a quiet and simple new year's this year, with a lot of time spent at my grandma's beautiful house, travelling with my dad's family to Phan Thiet and reuniting with my cousins, and hanging out at home heaps (simply because it was way too hot outside), rather than preparing crazy feasts and seeing thousands of relatives and acquaintances when you really just wanna chill out with your loved ones.

I dearly miss my little monkey (who is a little too full of energy for me though; my parents have been doing well in switching off and ignoring her non-stop babbling and jumping around), however spending two weeks at home made me realise how comfortable I've been here in Australia; I can't wait for my family to come see me and get to know the life I've built in Manly. In a way it was still strange though, to come home and not feel completely at home anymore. Now I have to wait for the moment that "this is where I belong" feeling hits me again.

College started again last week so I've been a little slow with posting, sorry. I actually didn't manage to tick any of the Fast Five boxes for the last week before uni, pretty slack.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


Maybe not so much on the last photo, ha.
Sneaky little getaways are awesome, although this was the third time I went to Melbourne and the trip lacked the magic I felt last time I was there, probably because I already saw a lot during the previous trip (Check out my birthday trip to Melbourne here). Nevertheless it was amazing to feel so familiar with the city; walking around town was more about exploring little details this time rather than trying to get an idea of what the city is about.

T and I went to see his oldest brother and his family (again a super laid-back and happy team), and just walked and ate and drank as much as we could. It was just out of new year's so many places were still closed, but coffee at Brother Baba Budan was soooooo beautiful, and I got to go back to a few of my favourites like Cumulus Inc and Movida Next Door. It was warm, and fairly quiet - as usual. Melbourne always seems a tad slower and more relaxed than Sydney, which is refreshing for me everytime I go there. Not that I'm saying my life in Manly is any hectic though!

See you again, soon.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


T's little bar in his men's corner, and bike in my sunroom.

This and more daily inspirations on my scrapbook that one last piece of cake.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


My first encounter with the brand Secret Squirrel took place when I was looking for a dress for graduation (and no, I'm not finished with college yet, that was for our associate degree). I couldn't resist the sleek cut and the most beautiful print on delicate silk, knew that I wouldn't be able to get it out of my mind so I promised my wallet that I would make up for it by not eating anything fancy for a couple of weeks and bought it. Hanging in front of the wardrobe, it was like my room's own sunshine. (Click here to see the dress. It got some lipgloss on one sleeve after a crazy dress-up Christmas party so I'm a little bit scared to touch it now though.)

Its new winter collection "Art Class" just got released recently and I'd be more than happy to wear any of their pieces to school, work, out, wherever. I'm a big fan of their simple but elegant design and their lovely fabrics and colours, which has been going across all of their collections. Their loose cuts almost give the pieces a playful masculine touch, and combined with either very soft or bold hues they do make me think of 1950's and 60's fashion. Just what we enjoy so much these days don't we - going a little back in time. Some of my favourites from "Art Class":

How pretty is the triangle print! For online shopping, stockists and all collections, visit

***Update: Secret Squirrel has now become Secret South; see website here.