The Driveway is NOT a playground. And oh, there’s this thing called a Queue!

A good four times a week, I take a shuttle out to the train station to get to French class and Driving class. The shuttle, for as long as I’ve been taking it, has never been full. There are always seats available for everyone. Besides, the shuttle arrives like clockwork. I don’t even think our trains are that on time.

Which is why I don’t understand why people refuse to queue up for the shuttle.

Most of the time, I am the earliest to reach the driveway where the bus stops, but I usually end up being one of the last to get on. And yes, I’ve already said there are seats for everyone, so there’s no need for me to throw a hissy fit, right?

Problem is, there is this thing called COURTESY that does not exist in quite a few of these commuters, and that totally pisses me off.

Today, I was the second to arrive at the driveway. A well-dressed lady stood in line, poised for pole position. I elected to sit at the bench which already meant that I was resigned to get on last. A gentlemen joined her shortly, and stood behind her.

THEN.

A young lady – about 18? 19? 243? Who cares? – stomped her way to the front of the line, in front of the first lady in the line.

Sh*t Phone Camera. Perfect for Spy Games. Even then, I make it look artistic.

Outrage. OUT. RAGE. No one said a word, though my eyes almost popped out and the two in line shot her a look. Of course, she was oblivious to all our hints of displeasure because she’d conveniently plugged in and zoned out.

Then, a recalcitrant middle-aged woman strutted over by the side. Stops. But I was already wary. This one. She is The Interceptor.

And when the bus arrived, true enough, she managed to edge out all of us with her massive frame and hop right on after Young Rude Girl.

But we didn’t get on right after. Because The Right of Way Mother and her Driveway Son were next in line by default. Because she is a motherrr, and he is but a cute lil 3? 4? 5-year-old?

Let me expound on RoW Mother and Driveway Son. The shuttle I take, technically makes only one stop – at the train station. But the drivers are nice enough to make an extra stop for the pair – at his preschool, I’d imagine – because it’s along the way. I think that’s fantastic. Understandably,  the pair should sit right in front of the bus so as to make a quick exit when they arrive at their destination. All good.

What is downright wrong, is the manner in which she brings her son to the front of the line, and conveniently marches right up after him without so much as a nod of thanks to the people behind her. On fact, on many occasions, her tot doesn’t even require her ‘Hurry, hurry! Go, go!’ prompt anymore. He just cuts right in and plonks himself down. Even on the occasions when there are elderly people in the line.

Is it his fault? Probably not. RoW Mom just expects people to give her son and herself priority because because.

Seriously though people, it’s a privilege, not a right. Everyone is just too polite and too bleary-eyed in the morning to tell you guys off.

So wait, why do I call the boy Driveway Son? Oh, this is so dumb it hurts.

The shuttle stop is a roundabout that services not only the bus, but also open traffic. When Mom leads Son down to the shuttle stop, the lil’ one, bursting with energy, will run right to the driveway and play there.

Yes.

Run. To the Driveway. To Play.

And yes. Mom is present.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m doing something dumb and irresponsible and potentially life-threatening as a child (i.e. playing with fire – yes, literally.), my mother wasn’t around to witness it. And if she were around, she’d probably burn me first to give me a lesson I’ll never forget.

This Mom. No. She lets her tiny tot run right into the driveway, frolicking, skipping, hopping, pulling out plants on the landscape features in the middle of the roundabout. When a car turns in, she feebly calls out to him, ‘Dear, come back already.’

Does he run back to the pavement with enthusiasm, fear in his heart?

No.

Because Mom was in no way firm. Not with her choice of words, not with her tone.

In fact… he TAKES HIS TIME to take step… by step… one hop… then another… Sometimes he even turns to give the shuttle bus/car a ‘scary face’. I’m assuming he is showing his might and the animalistic Conan prowess. And the whole time, Mom is watching.

Yep.

Her tiny little son who cannot be properly seen by drivers is playing with vehicles that can literally crush him. And Mom is there. Watching. Allowing it to happen. Yippee-doo-da.

And again, I don’t blame him (yet). I don’t even bother making a face. Because RoW Mom is obviously an adult, and if her parenting book of rules allows for the possibility of her son getting into serious trouble, who am I, a non-mom to disagree?

What prompts me to write this angry post is that IF and WHEN an accident (Touch wood, of course. I want to get to my classes on time. Yea, yea, crucify me.) happens, RoW Mom will probably be the first to point her finger at the drivers for not being careful, for not looking out for her child. Natural reaction, I agree. But what are you doing to prevent it? What are you doing to educate your child about respecting other people? Respecting the dangers that roads bring?

Sure, you want to let your kids run free? I’m all for that – in fact, there are a few very safe grass patches right next to the shuttle stop, a few friendly neighbours even walk their lovely pooches there in the morning. Go there. It’s safe.

Roads are NOT playgrounds!

Not even if you’re cute.

Parents who let their kids play in the common driveway – what are you thinking?!

Oh wait.

You are NOT thinking.

Moment of Lust: Lauren Moffat Maillot

I’m suffering from Swimwearitis, yes I am.

After writing about BlackMilk’s gorgeous Black Ribs Swimsuit, another has got my heart-a-fluttering, albeit from the opposite end of the spectrum.

Tada! (Urh. Yea. Not referring to the model who is way too skinny.)

How pretty is this little number? The classic maillot has been given a fresh burst of life with the attention to details. The colours are sweet, yet not overbearingly so. Most of all – check out the pleats! *Gush* I have a weakness for little things that are often overlooked, but  to me, make pieces work – buttons that are sewn on with thread of clashing palette, buttons in general, pleats, hook-and-eye, lacing… A crumbly, weak-at-the-knees, turn-to-dust kinda weakness. This piece just satisfy my obsession nicely.

Yes, I know. How often do I go swimming, right? And my answer is…

Who says swimswear should be restricted to the pool? (Though. I am a firm believe that underwear should remain U-N-D-E-R. Note to girl at Expo with black bra totally exposed under transPARENT white top.)

If you have $210 USD to spare (which I unfortunately, do not =/), you may go right over to here to get it.

All pictures courtesy of Lauren Moffat.

Heavy Metal

Look who’s got a new toy!

After toying with the idea of getting a pasta machine for months and months (Damn you Junior Masterchef Australia!), we finally came home with this big boy yesterday. For ages I told myself, “Pfft, I can make this work with a rolling pin! Fancy machines, I scoff at you! If Italian Nonnas in secluded villages can make pasta without a machine, so can I!”

Yes. Delusions of grandeur plus laziness doth not a pasta maker maketh.

Anyway, Titania (Where’s Oberon? Hurhurhur.) is no damsel in distress.

She is one metal lovin’ lady. I might just incorporate her into my workouts just to get my money’s worth.

So of course, dinner tonight was pasta.

Not contented with having freshly made pasta, I traded the water needed in the pasta recipe for tomato paste so we can have some orange-coloured pasta.

I doubled the quantity so we could have fettucini tonight, and I could stuff me some pumpkin ravioli for The Guinea Pig.

Most of the steps were simple. So simple I could cry.

Orange Pasta

  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  •  40 ml tomato puree/pasta sauce (Note that as tomato puree is not as ‘liquid’ as water, you might need a bit more than this.)
  1. Combine  the flour and salt and make a well in the flour.
  2. Crack the egg and pour half the tomato puree into the well you’ve created. Mix using a fork to beat the egg while bringing in the flour around the sides of the well.  The mixture should form a stiff dough. Adjust by adding more puree if you need to.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 3 to 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into workable portions, then roll out and cute with a pasta machine.

At this point, I covered the dough with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out and let it rest, and started working on the pumpkin filling.

Now. I checked out this Butternut Squash Ravioli recipe, but ended up seasoning it completely differently because I was going for a sweeter flavour. (Can’t tell you my exact measurements, but for double the portion, I included the shallots, skipped the cheese, replaced nutmeg with cinnamon and put in a tablespoon of palm sugar.) Perhaps one day I’ll follow that one.

The pumpkin filling was simple enough too. I just had to keep tasting it because I was trying (so hard) to replicate the super yummy ones from Huber’s.

What was difficult, surprisingly, was rolling out the dough!

My (over) enthusiastic project mate would rather watch a Youtube instructional video than read the instructions on paper. Hmm. Then the pasta was cranked out too quickly, resulting in some caterpillar-ish squiggly bits. Even then, we pressed on.

May I present to you… Our pasta hanging contraption?

Almost see-through!

The fettucini done, I started on my ravioli – which was so tiring, ironically, because I tried to use this fancy ravioli cutter.

Wayyy easier with a knife.

Tada! Ravioli, done!

And just for good measure, here’s dinner:

I’d have to say, the pasta was really soft yet had a nice chew to it. I even had a bit of the raw dough (HEH) and it was gooood.

Updates on the pumpkin ravioli later on!

xx

Lunch Yesterday: Wok of Art

Yesterday, B and I decided to sniff out an alternative spot for lunch and we went to a quiet little area that was full of nostalgia.

I told B about how, as a child, my Popo took care of me most days. She lived in a simple but beautiful semi-detached house along Jalan Pemimpin, where it was always breezy, and I had the liberty to play in (and destroy part of) the garden. I befriended a girl staying next door – I wish I remembered her name – and we would visit each other all the time. Little rascal that I was (Don’t get me wrong, now I’m just a big rascal.), we elected not to go over using the ‘traditional method’, a.k.a. walking out the front door, taking the tediously long walk down the driveway, opening the gate, exciting the gate, closing the gate, walking next door, opening their gate, entering, closing the gate… blahhh.

So I’d climb over the spiked metal grill that separate our houses. =D I’m a terrific climber. I even did gates for the heck of it after I discovering my talent. After that, just for a spot of fun, we’d climb straight to each other’s bedrooms on the second floor by stepping out onto our own ledge, hopping over to the other party’s ledge, then climbing over the balcony wall. TADA. Tom Cruise? Mission Impossible? Big. Fat. Pffffttt.

Anyway… we found this no frills prawn noodle stall just nestled in this old estate. The owners are friendly and just come off as really motherly types. The food was just to die for. Much, much better than the over-rated and too expensive ones I’ve had before.

Served with a mountain of crunchy fried shallots and a couple of tender pork ribs, one really can’t ask for more. What intrigued me most though, is the prawn…

Behold! The prawn have been shelled in the most peculiar manner – the head and tail AND LEGS are still attached! Amazing.

Can’t wait to go back for more.

l’illusionniste… *Poof*

Pardon the disappearance this week! I have been keeping myself really busy – so busy in fact, that I didn’t have time to write at all.

I am, however, immensely thankful for the little moments of magic that have come my way all of the week.

It all started with a surprise visit from Momo last weekend. She appeared like my magical fairy godmother (Erm… fairy mother just sounds weird, non?) and made her amazing braised duck for dinner. (Pictures to come!)

Even more miraculous was the fact that her arrival healed my sink.

Yeap.

I reiterate: Her arrival healed my sink.

See, the sink in my own bathroom was all clogged up due to reasons unknown for a good couple of weeks. Despite all efforts to get it working again – baking soda, boiling water, using some 5-metre long metal contraption and using *gulp* chemicals (Don’t. Judge.) – it stood its ground.

So Momo arrived. We caught up, gossiped, chit chat. Over all that, I mentioned the sink and asked her what she did the last time her bathroom was choked. She said she’ll take a look. We walked over to the sink. And she did exactly that.

She took a look.

She turned on the tap.

THE DAMN SINK WORKED!

There are no words to describe how I’d felt then, so I offer you my look.

O.O

And Momo had to rub it in by saying, “Nothing wrong what.”

I could only pray that it continues to work after she leaves. So far, sink’s doing very well, but let’s not jinx it.

After that, Momo swiftly performed Miracle No.2 – The Duck.

Ouch.

Now I’m a super adventurous eater. But I’m extremely picky when it comes to certain dishes because Momo does them perfect. And I’m not just saying it because she’s Momo. She doesn’t read my blog. (Boo.) Neither does she need any flattery. She has very high self-esteem. But yes, Braised Duck is one of those things. I am extremely critical of the duck I eat outside because they never quite measure up.

And it really drives me nuts when she goes, “It’s very simple” and starts rattling off the steps and ingredients when I don’t even have a pencil in hand. I just wanna go into the kitchen to watch her and enjoy the free smells, to be honest. I haven’t yet mustered enough courage to make a dish she is so good at for fear of falling wayyy short.

I go to bed that night, very full, very fat, but still very pleased.

In the morning, Miracle No. 3.

Mom had cleared the mess I affectionately call ‘The Ghetto’ in my ‘study’. It really is layer after layer of collapsed books, work stuff, paperwork, books, two corporate shirts from work, rubbish, layer and layer of books, work stuff, paperwork, books and a bag of toiletries.

She didn’t throw anything away. She just made them disappear from under (and over and beside) my childhood nemesis – the piano. I could finally reclaim my beautiful parquet floor I had lost to The Ghetto for a good 3 months. (Oh geez! Three months! Wasn’t that when you had your BREAK to CLEAN UP YOUR ACT, WOMAN?)

Yes. Shame. I feel it.

So tonight, I went all out to make Momo proud.

I bundled up all the clothes in my iron pile, which came up to the height of my Poang chair, and ironed EVERYTHING. Which took me THREE HOURS.

Gratification not instantaneous, but Satisfaction is Guaranteed.

After going at it one by one by one, I finally made my pile of laundry disappear – proving that I can perform miracles and magic without Momo too.

More posts with updates and new toys and exciting things in a bit. For now, I gotta rest me tired eyes, hands and legs.

Bonne nuit!

Beery, Beery Good: Part II – Angel’s Share

“Angels’ share” is a term for the portion (share) of a wine or distilled spirit’s volume that is lost to evaporation during aging in oak barrels. The barrels are typically French or American oak. In low humidity conditions, the loss to evaporation may be primarily water. However, in higher humidities, more alcohol than water will evaporate, therefore reducing the alcoholic strength of the product. In humid climates, this loss of ethanol is associated with the growth of a darkly colored fungus, the Angels’ Share fungus, Baudoinia compniacensis, on the exterior surfaces of buildings, trees and other vegetation, and anything else that happens to be nearby.”

 – Wikipedia, Barrel

So the beer has been fermenting for a week, and today’s finally the auspicious day to do our bottling.

But hey! The anal-retentive discerning alcoholics amongst you may exclaim. There isn’t any ‘angel’s share’ in beer!

I know.

a) Our beer is made in a plastic barrel, not oak. =(

b) It’s neither wine or distilled spirit.

BUT.

We have dedicated this production to our lovely friend, Angel. So ours is even more aptly and accurately so, Angel’s Share. =D

Scoff not.

Bottling can be quite time-consuming if you are doing it on your own. The bottles have to be cleaned and sanitised carefully, as do all the equipment. Each batch yields about 30 bottles, which means washing, rinsing, sanitising and loading 30 times.

Plastic bottles!? Yes. These special brown bottles keep the light away and are air-tight. Also, they don’t run the risk of exploding due to excessive pressure.

Plastic Fantastic. 

With all that done, we’re ready to put in the various sugars – which will colour the taste of the brew. It won’t change the type of brew you are making. That is, if you’d used a pale ale mix at the start of the brewing process, you’ll still have a pale ale. It just has a different… ‘character’. (I hesitate to say ‘flavour’ because it just kinda tints the beer. In short, just don’t expect to be drinking honey lemon if you add honey to the beer. Besides, if you want honey lemon, just have your darn honey lemon.)

We opted to use only unrefined brown sugar and honey this time round.

And just in case you wanna give brewing a go, don’t even bother using white refined sugar. It’s so processed that it does nothing to the beer. I don’t even know how to describe that. It just does… nothing.

I couldn’t take a picture of me skillfully filling the bottles with honey because…

I shouldn’t have to explain myself.

Here’s a pretty lump of sugar for you to admire anyway.

The fun bit.

All done! Worth noting as well: in my household – beer, water; no difference.

Now, we wait for another week for it to go through another round of fermenting. So after this two-week cycle, we’ll be able to pop them open and drink ’em. However, it’s best to give it a couple more weeks to age – friends have noted significant differences between young and aged beer. Maturity. *strokes beard sagely*

 So yes, Angel, in a couple of weeks, you may have your share. =)

xx.