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Saturday, August 9, 2008

08 Trend: Gold Eyeshadow -The Smoky Eye

So while finding the runway photos on for the Pure Gold post, I realised that the gold eye shadow look that has been in my mind wasn't really the Bottega Veneta S/S08 look but it was the very different Versace S/S08 look: the smokey eyes.

For a light smokey eye, go for the Zac Posen S/S08 way.
You can see that there's obviously yellowish-gold eye shadow in the inner corners and on the bottom lashes. As for the top outer eyes, the brown eye shadow is applied in a 'wing out' way, which may look cool on the models, but I imagine very hard to apply on yourself in real life -the winged shape is so hard to acheive!
For something more smoky and made-up for a night out, try the Versace S/S08 way. The Versace 'face' is definitely one of my favourites this season. It's pretty do-able in real life, (as long as you don't expect to look 100% like it does in the photos.)
For an imitation of this smokey eye, just blend gold and brown on your eye lids.
Try this: Mac's Goldmine + Tempting. I've never actually tried tempting, but I'm guessing most shades of shimmery brown would be ok.
Pale lips seem to be the way to go, although for some odd reason, pale lips never seem to look as cool in real life as in fashion magazine photos.
Picture yourself in this makeup for a night out -loves it!

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Friday, August 8, 2008

The Late Monica Wong Tiong

My thoughts for today are for my cousin Monica.

This morning I received news of your passing. You have managed to live a remarkable life way into your seventies.

I will always remember you as a good addition to our very large extended family. Your gentle ways will be treasured.

We used to laugh together exchanging news like too happy girls together in Sibu, both of us switching from Hokkien to English and then back again to Hokkien. You always had good advice on food and general things like a good older sister would do.

I had liked your sarong kebaya,tight skirts and of course the bee hive hairstyle when it was in. Of course so many women admired your beauty and your sense of style.

As a bank officer you dressed well and was every inch a professional. Years later when I started to teach English as a Spoken language to some very weak students I realise how your gentle ways have taught me to be sensitive to other people's needs. As teachers we just cannot raise our voices when we felt desperate in our teaching. A soft gentle voice can detonate anger in a learner and helps him on to another step of learning.

And you had always been a great support to the other members of the huge family you married into while you and Cousin John had a brood of three children to look after. Thank you.

Your presence ,in your beautiful sarong kebaya,at our recent reunion was pleasant and memorable.

We appreciate that and more. We will definitely miss you."

p/s. I have kept your engagement photo all these years. This morning I managed to digitalise it,although it is a little faded with time.

Back with more meeting fun

Some from a few months back, some from this week.

From The Bottom Of My Hoot

Louis Molloy


Some nice owl stuff from the BME blog

Food-Porn Friday: “Eat Drink Man Woman”

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More meeting fun

Ralph Lauren at the Beijing Olympics

It's the opening of the Beijing Olympics today! Granted I'm not much of a sporty person myself (my idea of sports is walking/shopping), I can't wait to see the opening. Not only because the performances at the opening ceremonies are always really amazing, but also because I can't wait to see the outfits of the US team! I always have the impression that the opening outfits are very old fashioned and not very flattering. But this time, designed by Ralph Lauren (how much more American can they get?), it should be much more fitted and elegant. In the mean time, let's take a look at the Ralph Lauren Olympic collection.
Usually I'm not too excited. They're almost always very touristy and looks more like an advertising campaign than anything. This hat is no exception. I can totally picture an American tourist with a big camera wearing it.
The polo with the Chinese characters saying Beijing is ok. But I can't help but think that these two tops are something I can grab from a tourist shops in Beijing. You know, the tops with the name of the city emblazoned on it, that can be found in any tourist shop in any city... this is especially so for the red top.
They do however, have something a bit more subtle, like these two polos. They're quite cute, but then again nothing that out of the norm for a RL polo. So where is the happy medium between too touristy and too subtle?
These tops. I'm loving these RL polos. The trimming and the stripes are genius. They are patriotic, very Olympic yet stylish. For one thing, I'd actually wear these out in public- even after the Olympics!

Let's see if RL maintains this happy medium for the opening ceromony.... in 8 hours!!

Image Source: Ralph Lauren

Pork Stew for Kompia (Foochow Bagel)

08.08.08 With Beijing Olympics going to begin soon today I would like to put down my favourite memory of Sibu - it has to be kompia with the pork filling.

This would also be the perfect dish to introduce to people who watch the Olympic Games.....simple and yet delicious. It would not distract the eater from watching the games . And there is no wastage at all. Nothing to throw away.

Someone should invent the edible napkin.

This is the Chieng family which operates a delightful down to earth and simple Christian based kompia outlet in Sg. Merah, where the first Foochows stepped on the soil of Sarawak , led by Wong Nai Siong. Perhaps biting into a kompia one can feel that we are biting into a slice of our history.

The young Chieng is a school teacher by way of introduction and he is a good son who helps his mother whenever he can.

The oven for the kompia is actually an over turned urn made locally. Cemented into a wood or charcoal stove we can have a wonderful oven for the making of kompia. And it is indeed the only way to get that natural aroma out of the plain dough. Convection oven,microwave or ordinary oven or any other invention cannot give you our traditional kompia.

The simple fat free dough is neatly divided into balls and they are lined up for easy and systematic handling. Just watch a kompia man making his kompia and you will realise how effective and efficient he is over the worktop. I believe .

So queue up for your kompia in Sg.Merah for the Chieng's humble product.

Recipe for pork stew:

1/2 kg. belly pork (sliced very thin)possibly 40 slices
2 tbsp thick soy sauce
sugar to taste
some water
oil (peanut oil)
a bit of sesame oil
3 tbsp minced garlic
a dash of pepper if you like
some water

1. Marinade the thin slivers of belly pork for an hour or so with some thick soy
2. heat up a kuali or wok and add a tablespoon of oil (more if you like)
3. add the garlic and cook until fragrant or aromatic
4. Add the sugar and caramelise it.
5. Add the soy sauce and wait for the sauce to boil over but not burnt
6, Add the pork slices and coat them well with the sauce, lower the fire and let the sauce and pork simmer for about ten minutes without letting the sauce dry up before adding about a Chinese soup bowl of water (or an amount you need for your kompia)

Half a kg should be enough for about 20 pieces of kompia,and this depends on whether you want to have more filling for your Foochow sandwich!!

Kompia itself is saltish even with a thick coating of sesame seeds. So a sweet sauce is complementary.

Some folks like some salted soy beans in this sauce. But I prefer the simple ingredients which will bring out the taste of the kompia best.

I am not sure if artificial sugar works or not. I will look into this recipe for my diabetic friends.

I hope Sibu will always produce kompia for us. Cheers.

Philip Hii has a few photos of the old man who sold kompia from a tray that he carried on his head. Remember the old man? I believe he lived in Tiong Hua Road, Sibu. We used to chase after him just to get him to stop ,put his tray down and buy two pieces with our coins.

Sometimes we bargained with him and asked him only for the sauce without the meat with the kompia ...How "kosong" can that be!! And we would run along with the kompia dripping with the black and tasty sauce.

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Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: The Tragedy of Christopher Ciccone: Avenged!

You may remember, possums, that when Christopher Ciccone accountably appeared as a designer during the Restaurant Wars episode of Top Chef: Miami, we channeled Rupert Everett to give you a taste of the tragedy of the pudgy, washed-up, gay bro. Chrissy has now struck back with a tell-all book in which he doesn’t tell all that much—but the first rule of Madonna Club is that you don’t talk about Madonna Club, or Madonna clubs you. Interestingly enough, Madonna’s friend Sandra Bernhard, says that “Madge has a lot of money and that she should’ve put some aside for him and then this wouldn’t have happened.” Write all the Chrissy-Hissy you want, Chris, but for what it’s worth, we think that, as the photo above shows, time most definitely does not heal all wounds, and that makes it the best avenger of all.

Amuse-Biatch Quote of the Week: Padma Lakshmi

"In southern Spain, they made me eat a bull's testicles. They were really garlicky, which I don't like. I prefer to take a bull by the horns, not by, um..."

--Padma Lakshmi

Uh, perhaps some (totally not scruffy!) people would beg to differ?

Food Stylings: Dairy Products

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

08 Trend: Gold Eyeshadow -Pure Gold

In an attempt to 'live young', I looked into fashion magazines for this season's beauty trend in search for eye shadow ideas, as opposed to my usual eye shadow style (the few times I bother with eye shadow;) Read: brown. If you read every magazine out there for a few months, you would realise that they feature eye shadow of every colour so I ignored the obviously magazine-styled ones, like many shades of green, yellow and blue, and have decided to accept the classy trend: the gold eyeshadow. There are two types. The first one is pure gold.

As you can see, pure gold basically means just plain gold all over the eye lids. The looks above are from the Chanel F/W08 runway show. Obviously I don't recommend you actually taking this look literally in real life.

Another show that had all gold eye shadow was the Bottega Veneta S/S08 show. Here, it looks simple and elegant -perfect for day and night.

A closer look on the eyes. While it looks very effortlessly applied on, I'm sure we wouldn't be able to replicate it quite as well in real life.

The way I'm planning on trying out this look is to first adjust by dabbing a tiny bit of the gold just at the inner corners of the eyes, so it will look as it does in the image above. Just a tiny dab to add a little something to the otherwise plain (but equally elegant) look. After trying it out a few times, I'll move on to try the all-gold look (like in the other Bottega Veneta images, not Chanel!)

So I headed to M.A.C. and found this colour: Goldmine. The makeup lady applied the colour all over my eyelids and honestly, it looked more like sparkly yellow than the pure gold in the Bottega Veneta show. But since it usually takes me a very long time to accept new makeup colours on myself and I wasn't bothered to search for the perfect gold, I just picked a Goldmine up. It's something for me to look foward trying on my next quiet night out.

I'll blog about the other gold eye shadow look soon! Thoughts about this gold look?

Image Credits:,

Striped Material for Foochow Men's Pajamas



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Foochow men are very fond of wearing cotton pajamas. They will get into them as soon as they can when they arrive home according to a friend of mine. And it is also a "must pack" item when they go travelling. One guy I know cannot sleep if he does not wear them.

The most popular material for their pajamas is this striped material which is still available in most textile shops in Sibu! This kind of material has been around for more than 50 years!! Most of these cotton pajamas are home made so they have special meaning to the men wearing them.

Some how in the evenings I just can sense that I will see a Foochow man wearing his pajama bottoms in his garden. And sure enough I will pass by a house and catch a glimpse of a man wearing a striped pajamas bottom. My kids used to shout..."here we go...another one....and another one there...." it is just such a happy nostalgic scenario.

Sun Dried Noodles made by Foochows


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The label on the box for the chien mien is wrong. It says "Bawang" or onions. At the moment in Sibu and Bintulu these chien mien cost 4 ringgit per kg. How prices have gone up in the last decade. When we were kids we used to get them for 50 cents a kati because sun dried chien mien were then the "left overs" of fresh noodles or chien mien. I wonder if you can remember that.

But the stigma of buying the sun dried chien mien is no longer a stigma today I hope. Or was there really such a stigma? I would still maintain that having dried noodles at home is good housekeeping sense.

And afterall all Italian noodles also come in dried form today at the supermarket.

Having said all thst, I would consider it , indeed, a special noodle which the Foochows used in the olden days. A few of us continue to like this kind of noodles . We think that this is more authentic and do not have preservatives which quick mee has.

On the other hand it may take us longer to cook.

But when we have lots of love to go around what is a few minutes of warm feelings in the kitchen?

Now that the Beijing Olympics is on - there is no harm preparing a little Ja Jiang Mien.

Recipe below:

Spicy Bean Noodles or Ja Jiang Mien
Noodles with meat & bean sauce

This noodle was first introduced to us by our father who studied in Beijing 1933 to 1936 at the Yien Ching University (Now Beijing University) Whenever he cooked the noodles for us we felt that it was a little spicy but we became adventurous in food like he was. Today after we have gotten used to Malaysian cuisine the noodles are no longer spicy to our taste buds.

Spicy Bean Noodles (Ja Jiang Mien) Serves 4

1/2 kg of sun dried chien mien or noodles (4 pieces)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (for cooking)
Meat mixture:

1/2 kg ground pork, beef , mutton or chicken meat
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 scallions, chopped
Optional additions:

5 to 6 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked, drained, sliced in shreds

2 to 3 ounces marinated dried beancurd, in 1/4-inch cubes
Sauce — mix together:

1/4 cup Sichuan chili bean paste
1/4 cup Sichuan hot bean paste
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine or medium dry sherry )optional for Muslims)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup water, as needed for consistency
To finish:

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Sichuan pepper powder
Optional garnishes:

finely chopped fresh red chillies
shredded carrot, cucumber, and/or celery
shredded cabbage or local lettuce

Boil the noodles following the instructions on the package of the chien mien (now available in most supermarkets - these chien mien come from Sibu). (Fresh Chinese noodles should take about 3 minutes if you can buy them easily.)

Drain, rinse in cool water, drain again, and return to the pot. Toss with 2 teaspoons oil to keep them from sticking together. (Being Foochow,we usually use a bit of lard so I hope my Muslim friends will forgive me for this)

Heat peanut or olive oil in a wok until hot, add the meat mixture, and stir over high heat until pork loses its pinkness. Add the optional mushroom and beancurd pieces, and stir to mix.

Add the sauce, using 1/2 cup of the water, adding more if needed to make a sauce. Stir to mix with the meat, reduce heat, and allow it to cook for 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens.

Stir in the sesame oil. Turn off the heat, add the Sichuan pepper powder, stir briefly, and pour into a serving bowl. Serve the sauce and noodles separately.

(For my overseas friends you can use any kind of spaghetti. I have used marcoroni once and it was fantastic).

Another good one dish meal to watch Beijing Olympics with.....and think of Sibu at the same time.

more photos later.......

Oldest Iron Made by Foochows

This iron is part of my beloved collection of Early Foochow Artifacts. My mother had one too but she said that due to several moves we made her unit sort of "disappeared". I was very happy to obtain one several years ago from an antique dealer. It is still functional.


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This iron belongs to my aunt who is now 87 years old.

She married my mother's first cousin when she was about 17. It must have been the time in Sibu when some men decided that it was a good idea to iron some clothes with a flat piece of hot iron. So this kind of iron was made by the blacksmith according to my aunt. She first learnt how to iron from my uncle who asked her to make men's trousers for a living. That was the reason she had to have a simple iron to press the seams together. She said that she had to be careful about heating up the iron on a charcoal stove otherwise she would burn the material.

Do you know that a long time ago in England a woman who wished to have a smooth table cloth or a smooth skirt she had to use a pebble? " shee that wanteth a sleeke-stone to smooth hir linnen, wil take a pebble . . . (a woman with no sleekstone to smooth her linen will use a pebble)"
John Lyly, Euphues and his England, 1580

Knowing about the history of ironing only makes one realise how lucky it is to be living in the 21st century. Ironing has become so easy. Recently I was introduced to an upright method of using a steam iron. You just need to hang your shirt from a hanger and you use the steam to steam away the wrinkles. You can practise your dance steps while doing this delightful chore.!!

History of ironing
No-one can say exactly when people started trying to press cloth smooth, but we know that the Chinese were using hot metal for ironing before anyone else. Pans filled with hot coals were pressed over stretched cloth as illustrated in the drawing to the right. A thousand years ago this method was already well-established.

Meanwhile people in Northern Europe were using stones, glass and wood for smoothing. These continued in use for "ironing" in some places into the mid-19th century, long after Western blacksmiths started to forge smoothing irons in the late Middle Ages.

Flattish hand-size stones could be rubbed over woven cloth to smooth it, polish it, or to press in pleated folds. Simple round linen smoothers made of dark glass have been found in many Viking women's graves, and are believed to have been used with smoothing boards. Archaeologists know there were plenty of these across medieval Europe, but they aren't completely sure how they were used. Water may have been used to dampen linen, but it is unlikely the smoothers were heated.

More recent glass smoothers often had handles, like these from Wales, or the English one in the picture (left). They were also called slickers, slickstones, sleekstones, or slickenstones. Decorative 18th and 19th century glass smoothers in "inverted mushroom" shape may turn up at antiques auctions. Occasionally they are made of marble or hard wood.

Slickstones were standard pieces of laundering equipment in the late Middle Ages, in England and elsewhere, and went on being used up to the 19th century, long after the introduction of metal irons. Presumably they were convenient for small jobs when you didn't want to heat up irons, lay out ironing blankets on boards, and so on.

Other methods were available to the rich. Medieval launderers preparing big sheets, tablecloths etc. for a large household may have used frames to stretch damp cloth smooth, or passed it between "calenders" (rollers), or flattened it in screw-presses of the kind known in Europe since the Romans had used them for smoothing cloth. Later presses (see right) sometimes doubled as storage furniture, with linen left folded flat under the board after pressing even when there were no drawers.

Flat irons, sad irons
Blacksmiths started forging simple flat irons in the late Middle Ages. Plain metal irons were heated by a fire or on a stove. Some were made of stone, like these soapstone irons from Italy. Earthenware and terracotta were also used, from the Middle East to the Netherlands.

Flat irons were also called sad irons or smoothing irons. Metal handles had to be gripped in a pad or thick rag. Some irons had cool wooden handles and in 1870 a detachable handle was patented in the US. This stayed cool while the metal bases were heated and the idea was widely imitated. (See these irons from Central Europe.) The sad in sad iron (or sadiron) is an old word for solid, and in some contexts this name suggests something bigger and heavier than a flat iron. Goose or tailor's goose was another iron name, and this came from the goose-neck curve in some handles. In Scotland people spoke of gusing (goosing) irons.

You'd need at least two irons on the go together for an effective system: one in use, and one re-heating. Large households with servants had a special ironing-stove for this purpose. Some were fitted with slots for several irons, and a water-jug on top.

At home, ironing traditional fabrics without the benefit of electricity was a hot, arduous job. Irons had to be kept immaculately clean, sand-papered and polished. They must be kept away from burning fuel, and be regularly but lightly greased to avoid rusting. Beeswax prevented irons sticking to starched cloth. Constant care was needed over temperature. Experience would help decide when the iron was hot enough, but not so hot that it would scorch the cloth. A well-known test was spitting on the hot metal, but Charles Dickens describes someone with a more genteel technique in The Old Curiosity Shop. She held "the iron at an alarmingly short distance from her cheek, to test its temperature..."

The same straightforward "press with hot metal" technique can be seen in Egypt where a few traditional "ironing men" (makwagi) still use long, heavy pieces of iron, pressed across the cloth with their feet. Berber people in Algeria traditionally use heated metal ovals on long handles, called fers kabyles (Kabyle irons) in France, where they were adopted for intricate ironing tasks.

Box irons, charcoal irons
If you make the base of your iron into a container you can put glowing coals inside it and keep it hot a bit longer. This is a charcoal iron, and the photograph (right) shows one being used in India, where it's not unusual to have your ironing done by a "press wallah" at a stall with a brazier nearby. Notice the hinged lid and the air holes to allow the charcoal to keep smouldering. These are sometimes called ironing boxes, or charcoal box irons, and may come with their own stand.

For centuries charcoal irons have been used in many different countries. When they have a funnel to keep smokey smells away from the cloth, they may be called chimney irons. Antique charcoal irons are attractive to many collectors, while modern charcoal irons are manufactured in Asia and also used in much of Africa. Some of these are sold to Westerners as reproductions or replica "antiques".

Some irons were shallower boxes and had fitted "slugs" or "heaters" - slabs of metal - which were heated in the fire and inserted into the base instead of charcoal. It was easier to keep the ironing surface spotlessly clean, away from the fuel, than with flatirons or charcoal irons. Brick inserts could be used for a longer-lasting, less intense heat. These are generally called box irons, although they used to be known as ironing boxes too.

Late 19th century iron designs experimented with heat-retaining fillings. Designs of this period became more and more ingenious and complicated, with reversible bases, gas jets and other innovations. See some inventive US models here. By 1900 there were electric irons in use on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ironing in Asia
Ironing continued to be done with hot coals in open metal pans in China, the basic principles no different from an enclosed charcoal iron. Some pans were very decorative like this fine brass and ivory 18th century Chinese pan-iron. (In the same collection is an ancient terracotta smoother from the Middle East, and an antique North African clay "box" iron with air holes.) The ladies preparing newly-woven silk in a 12th century Chinese painting are using a pan iron, in the same way as the ironers in the 19th century drawing at the top of this page. Although that drawing comes from Korea, Koreans were traditionally known for smoothing their clothes with pairs of ironing sticks, beating cloth rhythmically on a stone support. A single club for beating clothes smooth was used in Japan, on a stand called a kinuta. In many parts of the world similar techniques were used in both cloth manufacturing and laundering: in Senegal, for example.

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Floor Mat from Scraps of Cloth


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Every Foochow woman in those long ago days would keep their scraps of cloth left overs from their frugal home sewing. The favourite product they would make from these scraps would be a floor mat like this. (Those toes are mine to give you the scale.)

The pieces of scraps would be cut and made into triangular shapes and then sewn together to either form a round shape or an oval like this one.

They did not colour coordinate the colours like the American women (ref How to Make an American Quilt) but usually the floor mat turned out to be more red than any other colours. It was also quite often that the women would use the red cloth given as a "thank you" token when attending a traditional Foochow funeral in Sibu. The piece of red cloth was given to protect the funeral attendee from an evil spirit. The attendee would cover herself in the old days with the red cloth so that she could fend off an unwelcomed spirits. She would also not take home any such spirits.

My aunt who made this one brings out the best and newest one for Chinese New Year. She never fails to make a few every year. So a small gift from her is always very meaningful. This is indeed one of the best ways to recycle scraps of cloth.
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