Monthly Archives: December 2010

OH 2011

Andrew: When we last went to the Open House exhibition last year, we found ourselves being more excited by the concept than by the actual execution of it. Putting art into actual residences and using the character of the residence to comment on and highlight aspects of the art pieces had so much potential, yet many times this was not fully utilised. You can read more about it in our blog post here.

We’ve been informed that Open House is going to be done again next year and the best part is that it’s going to be at Marine Parade – where Dearie lives! That’s going to be really interesting as Dearie always talks about how the Katong area is so rich in heritage and she often brings visitors from overseas to walk around the houses to admire the architecture and the culture. I remember her Greek friend sticking his head out of my car window to take photos of the shophouses when he came earlier this year! (Jasmine: I also brought my Aussie friend, Scally, for a walk around the Joo Chiat shophouses, where we also did the touristy thing and took photos.)

I’ve looked at their websites and some of the featured artists and their past ‘pieces’ do look quite promising:

jes brinch Jes Birches, Installation in Denmark 2006

I’m very keen to see how Jes Birches work will end up being displayed in a Singaporean home. I can see how this would work in an exhibition, but I can’t imagine anybody willing to let an artist do this to their home! Once again, the play on the concept of defamiliarisation forcing us to relook at the way we place objects in a home and how that determines the ways we ‘look’ at those objects and understand them.

Yen Lin Teng - Linear Perspective (2), 2009 Yen Lin Teng - Linear Perspective, 2009 Yen Lin Teng, Linear Perspective, drawing installation, SAM@8Q

I don’t think the pictures here quite do justice to what the art is doing and I can’t really tell if the OHP in the second picture is ‘3D’ or merely ‘2D’. This piece looks really fun! I can imagine many kids running around and trying to ‘play’ with the various sketches on the floor and the wall.

They are also featuring some of Zhao Renhui’s works. I know he’s won Young Artist of the Year, unfortunately when I saw some of his photographs last year, I really couldn’t make head or tail of them. They were well-taken shots no doubt, but I couldn’t understand what he wanted to achieve. Perhaps this time it would be better as I’ve heard he’s been told to construct a narrative with these homes.

Jasmine: Since Andrew has already done the hard work of researching the exhibiting artists, I’ll share about two things I hope to see at Open House 2011.

1. Construct a comprehensive “living trail” that links architecture to art and if possible, Katong’s food history. There is such a wealth of Peranakan culture in Katong that it cannot not inspire art. On the other hand, the transmogrification of historical Katong into an affluent suburb increasingly popular with expats could also be good fodder for artistic critique.

2. Do not treat houses as white boxes or showrooms, but rather, integrate the installations naturalistically within the home. Like Andrew, I think Jes Birches’ aesthetic might be a good fit for this style of art placement because he seems to excel in rendering the ordinary familiar yet strange.

Curators should not be afraid of a little situational irony. For example, one of the wittier ideas for OH 2010 involved placing Zhao’s cockroach photographs in a basement, with a bottle of Shelltox.

Andrew: Interestingly enough, the OH committee has even set up a blog here to give us the latest scoop on what’s going to happen in Open House 2011 and the website itself has been designed in a rather Monopoly-like manner. Do check the Open House 2011 website out if you’re keen!

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When you give

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

Jasmine: When Andrew asked me if I would be keen on joining his cell for a mission trip to Muar, Malaysia, I told him that I needed time to consider it, but I already knew that my answer would be yes.

Actually, we were supposed to go to Hanoi (we postponed last year’s tickets, and then this year’s tickets fell through due to a lack of travel partners), but because we decided not to, we were able to go for this mission trip, which fell on almost the same dates as our Hanoi trip would have been. Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

There were six of us adults travelling with twenty-two youth (only two of them girls!). The adults were supposed to serve as mentors to the youth, who were tasked with planning and conducting a three-day children’s camp for 120 young campers (think ages 4 to 15), so that meant early mornings, late nights and err.. sunscreen!

I’ll leave it to Andrew to provide a detailed breakdown of the day-to-day workings of the trip (‘coz being meticulous is his thing, right dear?) [Andrew: We’ll leave the day to day happenings to another post], but I’ll just share a few of my trip highlights:

1. Getting to see my Andrew in action, facilitating small groups, morning devotion and stepping in as the emcee for the camp whenever necessary. For example, he almost single-handedly took over the English lesson for the 4 to 9-year-old age bracket when our boys could not handle this very demanding audience. What a leader!

2. Having Pastor James affirm the both of us in his sermon, for different things. For Andrew, it was for his act of buying fruits for the boys so that they would not get dehydrated or constipated. [Andrew: The pastor then mentioned how Jasmine’s praise for the lunch they prepared on the first day really encouraged him as he felt that his efforts were truly appreciated. Dearie made a very apt comment indeed that Pastor affirmed us both on our respective languages of love.]

3. I’ve never really been good with small kids (re: my cell leader’s infant cried when I tried to teach him alliteration i.e. "A is for Adorable") but during this camp, I got to know a very precocious six-year-old girl called Huixin. We bonded during English lessons and I helped her fold an origami bird, which we took to calling her moustache. She was quite fond of her moustache…

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And also became quite fond of clinging on to me. My xiao nian nian (the sticky little one), as I took to calling her, followed me everywhere. Or should I say, dragged me everywhere like some adult-sized rag doll, to the toilet, or to drink water, or even to the front because she wanted to dance on the stage (that was embarrassing, I had to kneel so as to camouflage myself).

I even joked with Andrew that I had held hands with xiao nian nian longer than I had with him! Xiao nian nian was so endearing that I never really had the heart to push her away, even though the educator in me knew I was encouraging bad behaviour i.e. overt dependency and withdrawal from same-age peers.

The mission trip certainly had its ups and downs. Several campers fell sick because they had participated in another camp right before coming on the mission trip, and one leader came down with an URTI.

I was also mildly concerned about fitting in with this all-boys cell because I’m a girly girl (and often joke that hearing teenage boys talk is like observing animals in a zoo- boys seem to communicate with Neanderthal grunts and foreign languages involving LAN) but I really enjoyed getting to know both the older guys in Andrew’s cell and the youth that they were in charge of.

For instance, I remember a lunch conversation about personal style and men’s accessories that we had with the older guys, and helping one of the teens pick out sunglasses. I was totally in my element then.

Overall though, it was a truly wonderful experience, and I’m already looking forward to doing another mission trip (but with my girls!) next year. There’s no better way for young people to grow than for them to serve, and no better way for a relationship to mature as we witnessed each other loving others and being at our best everyday.

Our First Love

Andrew: After going on the mission trip with Jasmine’s cell group earlier this year, I was quite excited at the prospect of another mission trip. Marcus always shared with us how he and Cindy went on mission trips together often before they got married and looks like we are also following their ‘pattern’. (Jasmine: Who says I want to marry you… so presumptuous.) Indeed, this mission trip was once again a great opportunity for us to work together once again and direct our energies towards serving others as a couple.

This mission trip was rather different from the previous one. It was a much more hectic mission trip with lots of planning and execution, but the fact that most of it was held in an air-con hall made it less grueling than the previous mission trip. As Jasmine has already mentioned, we organised a 3 day camp for kids with activities like:

Ice-breaker Games

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Worship

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Treasure Hunt

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Making of Greeting Cards

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Balloon Sculpting

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Dearie and I both learnt so much from this mission trip and one of the most important things this trip did for me was to bring me back to our first love – the reasons why I fell for Dearie in the first place. Working together with Jasmine reminded me once again of how much I enjoyed working with her so much in NIE. Although she was initially apprehensive about going on a mission trip with a group of guys whom she hardly knew, she really rose up to the occasion and worked very well with the cell guys, both the younger and older guys.

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Dearie did very well with the kids too. She didn’t only have one ‘xiao nian nian’, but two! The little girls really enjoyed playing with her. She was also very good in disciplining all the recalcitrant children during the trip and getting them to listen to her. She was so good that one of the leaders from the church came up to her to learn her tricks. Heh. So proud of her! 🙂

(Jasmine: That hasn’t stopped Andrew from making fun of my methods though i.e. "Jasmine, look at me. I said, LOOK AT ME". Sigh.)

Andrew: More important than what we learnt about each other, this relationship brought us back to our love for serving God. I really enjoyed serving our young boys, the children in the camp and CCC. It was a great joy to see God use all of us to touch the hearts of the 109 kids who came for the camp. My heart was so touched when I saw almost all the kids raise up their hands during the altar call to receive Jesus into their hearts and I feel privileged that we could play a part in bringing these kids closer to a true knowledge of God.

Dearie and I are now addicted to mission trips and can’t wait to go for the next one! 🙂

Our Favourite Haunts

Andrew: You might get the impression from reading this blog that we always dine at fancy restaurants and enjoy good food. While we love uncovering new restaurants with unique cuisine, there are days where we just want to have something simple and cheap yet satisfying (and often unhealthy). Here are some of the places we love to go to or types of food we love to eat:

Killiney Kopitiam (the Siglap branch)

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Andrew: This Killiney, as compared to the recently opened Toa Payoh branch, offers a greater variety of dishes which are decently prepared. Jasmine always has the chicken curry with prata when we go there. I am often the one who finishes the potatoes and the chicken though. (Jasmine: Wah thanks ah dear, you make me sound like I have the appetite of a mouse. Which I don’t!) She just loves the prata with curry and sometimes even orders more prata to go with it. When it comes to prata, we’re not particularly picky. Even though this one is obviously the ‘instant’ one, it’s still sufficiently crisp and savoury to fulfill that prata craving!

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I’ve tried many different dishes there. Their laksa is a tad bit too spicy. The fish beehoon, which I had during my recovery from wisdom tooth surgery is, too plain for me. My favourite has to be the beef hor fun (featured above). They are rather generous with the beef and the dish has a good mix of colour!

Turkish Food

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Kebab platter at SOFRA

Andrew: This picture is actually taken at SOFRA, which we only visited once. When it comes to Turkish food, we almost always end up at Anatolia at Far East Plaza both for its convenience and its price. Ironically enough, we’ve never taken a photo there of the food! (Jasmine: Hey dear, perhaps we should head back there next week… strictly for photography purposes, you understand.) The set meal ($15) at Anatolia is extremely satisfying and filling, with lentil soup (Dearie’s favourite!), bread, rice and a meat-based main course. (Jasmine: I’ve tried lentil soup in Istanbul, Sydney and Edinburgh, and I can safely say that Anatolia’s offering beats Sydney’s and Edinburgh’s hands down. The one in Istanbul was prepared by my wonderful Turkish host, Akin, who also threw in strips of pasta to make the dish more full-bodied, so it can’t be compared to the commercial lentil soups out there. Unlike traditional lentil soups  which are extremely heavy, have a cloying bean aftertaste and err… give you gas, Anatolia’s is very light – a  dash of melon juice also helps change the flavour.) We both love the rice and even Dearie, who is not usually a ‘rice’ person, often ends up finishing all the rice. We both realised that ordering two sets is too much for us, so now, I usually help Dearie finish her main course and then order a kebab if I’m not full. The kebab is pretty good, though I find the accompanying fries extremely soggy and oily!

Another Turkish food place which we love, but don’t go to as often because of its price is Alaturka, which serves the best humus with bread I’ve ever tried – much, much better than SOFRA or Deli Turk Turkish Cuisine (Suntec City). For appetizers, the Borek (pastry in feta cheese) is really good. The kebab platter is a little pricey, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality and volume. The deco at Alaturka is very authentic too. (Jasmine: My JC friend Hamidah brought me to Alaturka for a Ramadan buffet several years ago, and since then, I’ve introduced my family, Pei and Mills, and Steffy -who subsequently brought her family there– to Alaturka. I’d also recommend the iced apple tea (another Turkish staple) to wash down all the hearty dishes.)

Fast Food

Andrew: We used to go to Long John Silvers quite often. However, now that we attend service at Bukit Merah, we don’t visit Long Johns as often. It is still Dearie’s favourite and we frequently go to the Plaza Singapura branch and ask for more fries in our set meal because the servings of fries have really gone down recently!

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We do enjoy the occasional Popeye’s chicken with its lovely biscuit and mashed potato and Mac breakfast is one of the special things that we do together once in a while. I find the Toa Payoh branch of Popeye’s really sub-par as compared to the others at Flyer or Airport though (haven’t tried the one at Novena yet). They’ve served us very pathetic, cold servings of Fish Bits and their chicken sizes are quite small. Nonetheless, Popeye’s still our best fried chicken outlet, compared to KFC or TEXAS Chicken.

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We recently went to Wendy’s at Holland Village and their baked potatoes bring back fond memories of my times in Leeds where I used to have just baked potatoes for lunch! Obviously the serving in Singapore is much smaller.

I’ve recently become more health conscious, hence more averse to fast food. I’ve started to avoid LJS and when we go to Carl’s Junior, I often order the charboiled chicken burger (which tastes terrible, by the way). I love Carl’s chilli cheese fries though. I’m hoping to cut fast food out of our usual haunts, but it seems virtually impossible!

(Jasmine: We just tried Bon Chon’s crispy chicken on Andrew’s recommendation and were suitably impressed by how crispy the chicken drumlets were despite the generous and tangy heapings of soy garlic marinade, and the decor and paper products complemented that modern New York diner theme perfectly).

Soup Spoon

Jasmine: But one of our favourite spots for a chill meal has got to be Soup Spoon. Considering how many people love soups, with their heartwarming, soul-food quality,  it’s interesting that only Soup Spoon has really managed to carve out a niche in the soups market. I believe it succeeds because it’s managed to upgrade the traditional image of soup from side dish to main course with healthy dining options, jazzed-up names (according to Andrew- I personally can’t appreciate how a broth named after the ’60s singer-songwriter duo Simon & Garfunkel would appeal to a younger crowd) and a modern, relaxed dining atmosphere.

There is one other distant rival, Souperlicious at Citylink, but it simply doesn’t compare: the  mushroom soup contained more water than soup, and the staff kept forgetting or mixing up our orders.

P.S. Soup Spoon also recently opened a sister restaurant called Soup Broth Asia, which should be great for Andrew since he loves Chinese soups.

A Celebration and a Half

Andrew: We celebrated our 18th Anniversary with a special dinner at Chef Willin Low’s Wild Rocket. We had quite high expectations of it based on friend’s recommendations and our great experience at Relish (the burgers there are the best ever!). Having heard a lot too about the fusion cuisine there, I was very keen to see how it would turn out.

Wild Rocket is located at Wilkin Road on Mount Emily. The location is quaint and suitably quiet, making it a great location for a romantic night out. Parking is easy and free too (always a plus point). I really liked the ambience of the place and the food was mostly good too!

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The bread is often an indicator of the quality of the rest of the food. We quite liked the texture of Wild Rocket’s bread as it was light and fluffy. We asked for another serving, which was much better as it came to us piping hot. Our appetizer was the “Fried Shitake noodles with grilled Polenta” (polenta is Italian corn bread). Unfortunately we were too hungry and forgot to take a picture of it, but you can see how it looks like here. Dearie liked the polenta and I liked the ‘shitake’ noodles more. The blend of flavours was alright, but nothing amazing. Dearie even said she could make it!

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A short fashion interlude – Dearie’s crazy, “fashion-forward” top with multi-coloured clips all over. Almost everyone commented on at Cindy’s baby-shower earlier in the day! Her family joked that they could hang stuff on this top. Heh.

For main course, I had the  Soya Sauce Pork Cannelloni which I thought was excellent. IMG_8921 The textures of the cannelloni skin, cheese and pork just melded so perfectly together such that you really just wanted to savour each bite. The serving wasn’t very huge, but I took same amount of time that it took Dearie to finish her pasta. That’s how much I loved it! 

Dearie had the Laksa Pesto Pasta with Tiger Prawns and Quail Eggs. The laksa and pesto went surprisingly well together, creating a very unique local spice and herb flavour. I found it rather refreshing initially. Dearie found it too spicy though and I had to agree with her as the spiciness got a bit too overwhelming even after I had only 3 fork-fuls of this. Perhaps they should provide diners with an option on the ‘spice-level’ for this dish too. The prawns were really juicy and fresh and the quail eggs were merely to add to the ‘laksa’ feel of it. The taste didn’t win me over, but I appreciated the fun factor in ‘fusing’ both cultures in this dish! In fact, I would describe our dining experience here as truly ‘fun’ as the dish names were rather intriguing and you really didn’t know what to expect until the dish arrived.  IMG_8922

Now on to the desserts! We both felt though that the desserts were the highlight of the meal. Both desserts that we had were truly outstanding and indeed a good ‘fusion’ of local and western flavours.

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I had the Gula Melaka & Ginger creme brulee and Dearie had the Lychee Martini and White Chocolate Tart.

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The flavours were just amazing in both of these desserts – original, subtle and not cloyingly sweet like most European desserts. It was truly a gastronomic experience of discovering new dessert flavours. 

Of course, it being our 18th anniversary celebration, I shouldn’t just be talking all about the food! We enjoyed ourselves tremendously that night as we chatted about various topics and Dearie, as always, teased me mercilessly as I shared with her an ambition/dream of mine that I hadn’t shared with others before. I remembered laughing a lot that night and thinking to myself that it’s only with her that I laugh so much. Thank you, Dear, for a wonderful night and for an amazing 18th months together.

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Happy 18th month anniversary!

(The other ‘half’ of the celebration will be followed-up in another blog entry…)