Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday's Treat : Shanghai Street Dumpling House

342 Little Bourke St

Upon the recommendation of jetsettingjoyce, I decided to treat myself to some dumplings for lunch one day.  The day was stinking hot, the location was a not-so-short-walk-but-too-short-for-a-tram away, but I was determined.  And my determination and brief walk paid off.  

Seated alone by the window bar, I ordered the mini fried buns and boiled pork dumplings.  The view was essential Melbourne with old buildings towered by new (ish, anyway), and small non-descript laneways hiding a treasure trove of glorious food and eclectic shops.

 Shanghai Street Dumpling House is a small diner-like eatery like many other Asian eateries around Melbourne.  Limited seating is available, but the turn around of customers was quick from what I could observe, so the wait did not seem long for a table.  Service is fast and efficient.  Cash only.  Really – a no fuss place.  The focus is on the food.

And so it should be…

The mini fried buns were divine.  A lovely slightly chewy wrapping that was steamed on top and crispy fried on the bottom, housing a yummy meat parcel inside and, it can be a bit of a surprise, a gloriously yummy soup.  Yes, soup.  Inside.  Yum.  Be careful as the soup can spurt out, or be a surprising burn on your tongue if you haven’t waited long enough.

The boiled pork dumplings were of a good sort.  I’ve had some at other places that were definitely better, but this was not a disappointment.  Teamed with the readily available vinegar sauce, this was as I expected.   Scrumptious and a pleasure to eat.

The city is bursting with life at the moment.  With many restaurants and eateries and all kinds of food available, it may be a while before I frequent Shanghai Street Dumpling House again.  But then again, with those mini fried buns so tempting, I may be back sooner rather than later.

My one advise when dining at Shanghai Street Dumpling House, use the spoon!

*sheepishly* ok... ok... I did finish off this gluttonous lunch with a brief walk up the street to the Dessert House to slurp up a mango and pomelo with sago in coconut milk dessert.  Perfect!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A week in review : - minty stuff, playdates, strange bedfellows and a few firsts

Here's a snippet of some of my enjoyable moments during the past two weeks which I was able to capture on "film".  Enjoy!

A luxurious coffee and cake on my own
Mint Flake!
Sisterly love at the dinner table
Trying out a new recipe from Hello Kitty

Cousin playdate
One-on-one with mom
My little ponies
Can I join in the outfit-of-the-day photo session?  No clothes - no problem!

Our first cast
Mom's first week at work - how the girls sleep
A back to work gift
Sisterly pillows
Our first fallen tooth

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mission Statement

Hey everyone!  I’ve been thinking about my blog and what it is that inspires me to blog. 

And here’s the deal… I like to write; I like to have an outlet for my thoughts (especially since I have a lot of them – like keeping track of where the number plates are up to and what ever happened to the series of number plates starting with G, H, I, J, K and L and maybe M but I’m not so sure about that one and yes, it’s just another rambling thought).

Eh, excuse me, back on topic.

Oh yeah, and I like to think that my thoughts and activities might be of use to someone some time somewhere.  Maybe even of use to me at a later date if I’m in need of inspiration.

I originally started to blog, amongst other reasons, to document my journey into the crafts.  And now, I’ve started to view crafting as an extension to how I view my life and how I want to live at this point in our life.  So, I’m changing the focus of my blog and I hope that you can come along this journey with me.

Simplify; create; beautify.  Enjoy.

Simplify my life
Simplify my needs
Simplify my thoughts
Create stuff
Create health
Beautify our lives
Beautify one self
Beautify our home
And then, along the way, enjoy – enjoy the process, enjoy the results.

 Thanks for dropping by!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!! (About a month later)

I love Christmas.  I didn’t use to but now I do.  I’m sure it has something to do with having kids.

These days, amongst the food and family and presents, Christmas and New Year seems to trigger the “look at my life” syndrome.  And part of this is this need in me to let my friends know, both those that I see on a regular basis and those that I see infrequently, that I am thinking of them.

So, I make Christmas presents.  And this year, thanks to an inspiration by my sis a couple of years ago, I made some origami cranes in glass baubles.

If you’re saying “oh, that’s nice”, well it wasn’t quite the reaction I was going for.  But if you’re saying “pretty, but how in heavens (or some other similar exclamation) did she get the crane in there?”.  Then that was the reaction I was going for.

I think these could do with some jazzing up, but with a heartfelt note and some pretty wrapping, it more than serves my purpose.

To my dearest friends and my lovely readers – I’m thinking of you!

Tips :

In order to make something similar, I would suggest the following…
1.)   Choose your paper wisely.  I chose a Japanese Chiyogami paper.  I found that this does not show unintentional creases.  And that it creases quite well when using the appropriate tools.
2.)   If you can, use a bone folder.  I found that this does not rub the paper when making the creases and makes a very crisp crease.
3.)   Employ some bamboo skewer sticks to manipulate the crane in the glass bauble.
4.)   I made the crane in it’s entirety and then undid the last couple of steps.  Then I stuffed the crane into the glass bauble and manipulated it back to shape using the bamboo skewers.

If you want to give this a go, I hope these tips help!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Face time

Let’s talk makeup.

Firstly, what’s the deal?  Initially, to me, makeup was just something that you put on your face.  And that it had to look like you had put something on your face so that you can be deemed an adult.

Until… one day, I was surfing the internet and I came across this beauty guru.  And I fell in love.  I fell in love with how I was looking at her face and not her makeup.  I fell in love with how she made Asian features look beautiful.  In how she took her beautiful youthful Asian face and turned it into a beautiful refined Asian face.  And that was part of my revelation – while I appreciated my Asian genes allowing me a youthful appearance, I wanted to be more refined and mature at the same time.  I saw how makeup could help me reflect how I feel about myself. 

Ok, maybe not so much the refined bit and more the mature bit.  Ok, ok – maybe not so much the mature bit and more not-so-young.  Whatever.  There was just something about her look that appealed to me, and something about her tutorials that made me believe that it was attainable.

Am I vain?  Am I shallow?  Maybe.  Am I really depending on something on the surface to boost my confidence?  Uh yeah.  If making up my face helps me project the person that I know I am inside, then I’m all for it! 

Onto my philosophy… I think makeup is just one part of the presentation package.  In delving into makeup, I was also committed into delving into diet and skincare. 

Here’s my deal – I think makeup looks best on good skin.  It can be minimal and natural and applied just so to emphasis your best features.  Good skin comes from proper skincare to prepare the skin from the outside and a good diet to prepare the skin from the inside.  The better the skin the less makeup, the more simplified to achieve that level of beauty.  And you know I’m all about simplification.

And, from my experience with my skin, I know that my skin gets oily, but usually when it hasn’t been moisturized enough.  I know that my skin can look dull and lifeless and lines are more pronounced when I haven’t properly exfoliated.  And that it looks worse when I know I have not been drinking enough water and eating too much sugar.  So skincare and diet.

Now onto makeup.  If you’re interested in what I use, then read on.



I wear foundation.  I have tried and tried, but I cannot get rid of the redness around my nose or the darkness around my mouth.  If my skin was beautifully even-toned (like my gorgeous sister or my beautiful mom), then I wouldn’t bother with foundation.
I use a primer to help the foundation wear nicely – as in fades away during the day in a nice way and stays on as long as possible without too much touch up.  And I use a setting powder to try and keep the foundation on my face for as long as possible.

I use blush because it makes me feel pretty and girly.  I would just pinch my cheeks for that rosy-au-naturel look, but I think prolonged use of that technique would not be nice to my skin.

I fill in my eyebrows.  I’ve plucked them over the years.  They didn’t grow back nicely.  And I need good looking eyebrows to frame my eyes and my glasses.

I line my eyes with eyeliner, mainly to add depth to my scarce eyelashes which also frames my eyes.

This is my basic makeup requirement.  If pressed for time, I would try to do all of this and leave it at that.

But you know I don’t do things in half measures, so the makeup continues on.

I like to wear eyeshadow.  Having an Asian monolid and in studying a lot of the Asian beauty gurus on youtube, I think the key to emphasizing the beauty of Asian eyes is to breakup the space between the eyebrow and the eye.  By breaking up the space with eyeshadow, I think I am taking the emphasis away from the lid itself and bringing the focus to the actual eye.  I’m not aiming to change the shape of my eyes.

I love love love to wear mascara.  Every since I discovered that mascara does not have to end up on my glasses lens, or that there are ways to prevent it from becoming a smudge on my cheeks, I am addicted to it.

And of course, the very basic of basic makeup, lipstick.  With a lip liner thrown in.

So that’s it.  I have invested in makeup that, if used properly, will last a majority of the day and will fade nicely as the days ends.  I have also invested in brushes that allow me to apply my makeup efficiently.  And by investing, I don’t only mean in terms of money – there are some really good makeup and brushes out there that do not cost an arm and a leg.  By investing, I mean taking the time, the effort, and sometimes the money, to get exactly what I need to achieve the look that I want in the space of time that I have.  By investing, I also mean practicing and practicing so that I can expend the effort once a day to get the look that I want and then, save for a touch up of lipstick, I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.

Beginning of the day

End of the day - no touch ups; running after 3 little ones

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Birthday To .... Everyone!

Hi everyone!  And if you've had a birthday sometime last year (hehehe!!!), then HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

It's been a homemade/handmade birthday theme this past year.  As much as possible, I have tried to give handmade gifts or contributed to a party as my present.  What I am most pleased about is that I have tried to use, as much as possible, the supplies that I already have on hand.

Here's a snapshot of some of the gifts given this past year...

Handmade notebooks with pen and paper (the paper was sometimes printed with Made By ... ).  This is, proudly, my own creation.

Fabric Balloon balls for the little ones (again, my own creation!)...

A variety of cakes (including a Yoda cake!! Yeah - for once my failed icing colouring actually comes in good!).  This was made by searching for heaps and heaps of images on the internet and trying to sculpt accordingly.  Dear Husband made for an awesome critic (in this instance) - "It's Yoda.  It had better be good, otherwise just forget about it and bring a round iced chocolate cake."

Word to the wise - I made my own fondant using marshmallows.  Awesome stuff, but it's MESSY!!!  I tried to take photos of the process, but it was like the blob and was going to take over my dining area if I let it go to take photos.

My little pet shop cake...

And this contribution to a little girls party (as suggested by Little Miss M after watching an episode of Peppa Pig... so who says that TV is useless?) - a ribbon piƱata!  I think this will be making an appearance again at one of my little ones' birthday celebration.

The cutest bag I have made so far (courtesy of my favourite bag designer).  I think I will probably need to make one for myself.  I might try a "grown up" material, but gosh yellow sure does make me smile!  And again, I cannot rave on enough about this designer and her bag patterns.  In this instance, her pattern encouraged me to try some embellishments (the flower was eventually attached to the bag) and to use boning in the handle.  ** sigh ** so many bag patterns, so little time!!

I think I had better start on the birthday presents for this year.  I have a feeling my little ones will be demanding this year - for themselves as well as for the birthdays they will be invited to.