Friday, September 21, 2012

A taste of Peranakan decor

A trip up to Penang island last weekend rekindled my interest in Peranakan design. I've always been a little intrigued by the Peranakan, or Straits Chinese, lifestyle. The Peranakan seem to have squeezed the best out of the Malay-Chinese-European culture and blended them into a unique identity - with their own customs, dressing, jewellery, furniture and amazing design sense.

A little about the Peranakans...
They are found mainly in the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia, the Peranakan community started in the early 15th century in the trading ports of Malacca and Penang. Men from China who came to trade soon began marrying the local women and began incorporating some of their culture into their own. In time, they came to be know as the Peranakan, a Malay word which means, "to give birth to". A Peranakan man is often referred to as 'Baba' and a lady as 'Nyonya'. So if you see a restaurant with the word "Nyonya Food" - it means they serve Peranakan cuisine. But that's another story. We're here to peek into gorgeous Peranakan designs and why I am starting to love them more and more.

1. Geometric designs
In Peranakan houses, the default flooring is tiles - as it is cool under the feet, very suitable for the hot humid tropical weather. But you'll not see any boring homogenous tiles. Peranakan tiles are aplomb with colour and motifs.

In the above 3 photos, the tiles are recreated Peranakan tiles by a Malaysian company called Terracotta. Very nice. I would love to have a tiled splashback for the bathroom.

[Arthur Zaaro]
Arthur Zaaro gives it a modern twist. If you have the tiles, give it a try on a Lack side table.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My 10 minutes

The Malaysian Women's Weekly wanted to feature me in their story about women with quirky hobbies. "Quirky? What do you mean quirky? Doesn't everybody hack their IKEA?"

Nevertheless, the vain pot in me couldn't pass up the chance to be in a glossy mag. So I said yes. I've done a number of press interview ever since IKEA Hackers started, but photo shoots ... well, I've only done one.

I wished I had read Danielle La Porte's "how to look hot in a photo" tips before the flash lights went off. It is hard work to smile. For like 100 shots. Really. To pose like I'm not posing. And. Suck. In. Tummy.

I wish, but no, this isn't me.

I'm on page 185, the September issue!
Here I am in my apartment, with my trusty Bosch driller thriller. And beside me is a Frosta side table I hacked, based on this one, spray painted red.

Thanks Zai, Raymond and the crew for making it a fun day for me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pear soup for a blogger's soul

When I first started working from home, I used to get so wrapped up with my work that I would forget to eat. Then I would get so hungry and grab whatever junk I could find in my larder which most often is a packetful of excitotoxins like instant noodles. Evil stuff.

But I've learnt to take better care of myself now. So when I know I have a heavy schedule coming up, I make soup. As my mom always says, "even if you don't eat, you must drink a few spoonfuls of soup." Soup, to me, is nourishing and oh-so-yummy. And for a lazy "chef" like me who doesn't want to spend too much time dicing and slicing, making soup is cinch.

I made a potful of Pear in Snow Fungus soup today. Just slurped it for dinner and I should have enough to last me another 3 meals, at least, if I can resist gulping it all down.

I know the name 'snow fungus' is a turn off. Like some bad case of mold in the basement. But, it is actually quite a pretty coral looking thing. (Note to self: I must remember to take photos of ingredients) It's been used by the Chinese for more than 2,000 years and is believed to nourish the Qi and remove dryness and heat from the body, specially if you have a dry cough or chapped lips. Wonderful for hot summer days! (Or in my case, after a weekend of curry and sunshine). When paired with ingredients like pears or papayas, it turns into a flavoursome delight. Read on for the recipe.