Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rare Gallery and Lee Kong Chian Reference Library tour

As part of National Library Board's (NLB) 20th anniversary celebration, I sign for their Rare Gallery and Lee Kong Chian Reference Library tour! The tour was led by Ong Eng Chuan, who is in charge of the Rare Collection.

Named after Dr Lee Kong Chian in honour of the Lee Foundation's S$60 million donation, the reference library is the premier resource for works on or about Singapore and the region.

The Lee Kong Chian Reference Library occupies 7 storeys (Levels 7-13) at the National Library Building. The start-up collection size exceeds 530,000 print and non-print materials. It has a full range of services, such as access to electronic databases, document delivery service, reprography, microfilm and audio-visual access are available.
We were told that the library had high ceilings because it plans to expand its collection all the way to the top! I can't wait for that day to come.

We were told that all local publications has to give 2 copies to the library. One copy would be stored here and the other will be distributed to one of its branch. The reference library on the ground floor is open to public but the books here cannot be loaned out. You may want to do your reading or research here though.

I borrowed a copy of Nini Eat First Talk Later at a branch library and it was stamped with the word "GIFT" Is this the one of the copies given to the library? 

Serious researchers may want to write in to read or examine the rarer books on the upper floors, where there are individual cubicles to work in.There is a dark microfilm room with reading machines to view microfilm archives. Rare books can sometimes be accessed this way; the only reason why the actual copy is kept from just any person is because of preservation purposes.
Next we come to the Rare Collection which is normally inaccessible to the public. The materials located here are preserved under controlled temperature, humidity and light settings. The oldest book in in the Rare Collection is dated back to the 1500s.

Mr Ong elaborates on some of the collection on display.

Inheritance from the Raffles Museum and Library. Look at how these are stored in casing.
Below are some of the exhibits we saw.
Scroll addressed to Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, by the Singapore Chinese merchants on the occasion of his visit to Singapore in 1869. It was signed by several prominent business man such as Tan Kim Seng

A Malay translation of the Chinese classic"Romance of the 3 Kingdoms " These books were popular among the Straits Chinese Peranakan.

The autobiography of Munshi Abdullah Abdul Kadir – a translator employed by Raffles – which gives an account of the early days of the East India Company settlement of Singapore. Written in Jawi, his memoir is a valuable Asian account of the founding of the British settlement by one who was familiar with the British administrators.

Letter from Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles to Lord Lansdowne , displays his pride of finding the settlement

The journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, Volume VI. On display is a detailed sketch of one of our lighthouses, do you know which one is it?

Old maps, ancient books and postcards were on display
Some of these materials were exhibited in exhibitions. Eg, some of the displayed maps were on displayed in the recent Geo|Graphic: Celebrating maps and their stories exhibition which ended in July this year.I believe the library would conduct the tour again in another 5 years time to celebrate its  25th anniversary.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Have you ever looked carefully at your books? Did you noticed the threads that binds the books? I love bookbinding. 

Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from an ordered stack of paper sheets that are folded together into sections or sometimes left as a stack of individual sheets. The stack is then bound together along one edge by either sewing with thread through the folds or by a layer of flexible adhesive. 
                                                                                                             - Wikipedia

These are from The Thistle Bindery
Below are the books I bind before. 
Bookbinding is somewhat like sewing. You can try to design the spine of the book.
You can design the cover with various techniques. Let your imagination run wild. You can try spray paint or use zentangle method to draw.

Believe or not, bookbinding method can be used to do carousel books. This I learnt from another instructor. Carousel book can be opened as above or like a book like the below picture. You can create story scenes or make this into photo frames.

I have yet to slot in photos. When I get a new printer, I will do that. :)
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Foodie Read: Nini Eat First, Talk Later

For those who loves food, especially heritage food, this book, Eat First, Talk Later, is probably for you. It featured most Singapore hawker food which still survived today, such as Chicken Rice, Satay and Niang Doufu. Some food which probably had not heard off because they are already extinct. Eg Ice Ball. Some of the food, mentioned in the book, brought back memories and yearning because they are rare to find, such as Hakka Salted Baked Chicken.

Satay which was featured in the book

The story started with the Gang of Four descending from heaven, or rather storks, to embark on their gastronomic adventure. An extension of Nini in Changi Village, it is also by our local author Fanny Lai. This book focus more on food origin, recipe ,evolution of food and the conditions of the food that were prepared and served in the past. It contains the same colourful comical illustrations though.

The book also touched on Nini's genealogy. Her father was a Hakka. So naturally, Hakka food such as Mei Chai Kou Rou (Steamed pork belly with preserved mustard leaves), Niang Doufu (Braised tofu stuffed with minced meat) and Salted Baked Chicken were introduced.  The origin of these food were explored and some recipes were given but the amount of ingredients required were not indicated. Probably, due to the fact that recipes those days were passed down by word of mouth. It is a pity that my favorite Hakka dishes, such as Lei Cha and Yam Abacus Seeds were not mentioned. I think these are pretty famous and yummy Hakka dishes too. Both dishes, I must say, need pretty laborious preparation.

Leicha is believed to  be a very healthy food choice
The book also ofter an insight of  how life in Singapore was like, especially in kopitiam (coffee shop) and provision shops. Both of which are closely associated with food. People who frequent kopitiam those days were different from now. Women should not be seen in kopitiam alone then. Provision shops probably is now a dying trade in Singapore with the invasion of supermarkets. They used to be rather common in those days. Even in the 80s and 90s, they were relatively common. I remembered several such shops in my ex-neighbourhood but since the place undergo SERS development, the shops seemed to closed doors forever, not relocating any where else.
Kaya Roti (bread with kaya) and Kopi (Coffee) and soft boiled eggs are common food items that can be ordered from Kopitiam (Coffeeshop)
A small segment of the book was dedicated to Silver Sister, a self-combed lady. Self -combed ladies (Chinese ladies who vowed not to get married, many worked as domestic servants) were something of the past. From the book, I could sensed that the author was pretty attached to this character, Silver Sister.
Nasi Lemak (Coconut milk rice complete with chicken wing, fried egg, otah, ikan bilis and belachan) ,a delicious delicacy

Nonya Kuehs, (left: Tutu Kueh and  Right:Kueh Pie Ti), is one of the kuehs being featured in the book. Others are Teochew kuehs and Malay kuehs
We also learnt about evolution of food, for instance, from Ice ball to Ice kachang, and the many varieties and flavours of certain food such as Ang Ku Kueh (Some flavours comes in the form of durian, coffee and mango, of which I had never eaten or heard of before). Even the machines and appliances that were used to made these food evolved through the years.

Ice Kachang

I would suggest this book to be more suitable for primary school children because a lot more history is involved which the smaller kids may find the subject dry. Little One, a pre-schooler, prefers the first book because she thinks it is funnier. Nevertheless, she still flips through this book occasionally.
 Freshly made Chee Cheong Fun (Rice noodle roll) with Preserved Duck Egg porridge

Unlike for Little One, I find it a pretty entertaining book and allows me to know more about our food culture. To add on to that, the food mentioned makes my mouth watered. I am on a quest to look for the Salted Baked Chicken mentioned in the book. Any one who knows where to get this food, please do notify me!
Vanishing trade -street hawker

The Chinese version is available too! However, I have not got a chance to lay my hands on it yet.
Both versions are available in major book stores in Singapore.

You may want to borrow from the library
English version
Chinese version

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Glass Jewellery

Recent glass jewellery workshop - My second workshop using transparent glass frits. The rectugular piece was free form using frits and small pieces of glass. Compare to the below my first trial.
My first trial was disastrous with many lumps protruding out. These were made using non -transparent glass flits.
Below are the look before and after firing. Notice the colours were darker after firing the transparent frits. Notice also how the free form fused to a smooth surface and became flatten.

Comparing the first and the second trial, which style do you like better?
If I have the chance again, I would make again. :)

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Foodie Read 2015 Challenge

Foodies Read 2015

When I first saw this The Foodies Read Challenge hosted by Vicki of I’d Rather Be Reading at the Beach, I thought it was pretty interesting. Hence, I signed up for it. Although it was pretty late but the challenge runs throughout Year 2015.

What exactly is Foodies Read Challenge?
Once you have decided on the number of "food books" you decided to read, you can sign up for it. Even if you do not have a blog, you are welcome to give your reviews under the various tabs. Check that out in The Foodies Read Challenge.

What is a “food book”? 
A food book is a book which is centered around food and/or drinks. That could be a cookbook, a food biography or memoir, a non-fiction book focused around a specific food, wine, chef or restaurant, or a fictional story in which food plays a major role.


Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18
Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19

I have decided to take up the challenge of short-order cook since I came across this in August. But before I do that, I wanted to find some foodie books.

So, here goes! The first review will be up this week. I have shortlisted several others too. I hope I have the time to complete them.

Foodie Read List
1. Nini Eat First, Talk Later
2. ____________________
3. ____________________

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How we fight the Haze during Haze Daze

Singapore is not unfamiliar with haze because the sky of the little red dot would be overcast with bad air at least once a year. Actually, in the past, I was not aware of haze looming across the sky until 2013, It was also the year the PSI hit the hazardous level of 401. This year, MOE announced that primary and secondary schools to be closed due to the worsening haze. This is done so for the first time. 

This year the haze seemed last longer than usual, probably due to El Nino. The monsoon rain is expected to be later this year too. The haze affects southern Thailand and Vietnam and most parts of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Probably, also Cambodia and Cebu in the Philippines.

How do we fight the haze?

The haze contains tiny pollutants particles which are harmful for health. The irritants may cause eye irritation, eye inflammation (or Conjunctivitis),nasal irritation, throat irritation, lung tissue inflammation. So, how do we combat against it?

Limit outdoor activities 

As a parent, naturally, we are worried about the health of Little One. We bought the Air+ Smart Mask but ventilator is out of stock. We tried letting Little One wearing the mask without the ventilator but she did not like it.  So, we limit outdoors activity except going to school or when necessary. We closed up doors and windows when the PSI reaches unhealthy level. Once PSI reaches very healthy level, we would hide in the aircon room. 

When the weather seemed fine to go outdoor, we prepare a mask for each of us in the bag just in case the PSI increases suddenly.

Limit intake of fried food and junks

We cut down on fried food with not much problem. The problem I faced is junk food. Many a times, Little One received goodie bags with these food. I can't blame entirely on the goodie bags, I am a potato chip fan. So we consume potato chips at times. We are trying to cut these down.

Food Remedy

  • Eat a huge variety of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are the most important part of any meal that you take in. They provide your body with the necessary fibres and nutrients that increase your child’s immune system. Fruits are rich in vitamins and should always be part of the meal as they help fight illnesses and strengthen the body. You may want to see the list of food listed here to combat the haze.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Cook or consume more watery food, eg, porridge, soupy noodles and soup
  • Use western and eastern remedies to relieve haze symptoms and to nourish the body to fight the haze. Below are tried and tested remedy.
    • Chrysanthemum tea 
    • I usually infused a handful of chrysanthemum buds, sometimes, adding one or two piece of ginger to balance the cooling effect of chrysanthemum. I made this drink for my family whenever the haze worsen. or when we need to spend a long period of time outdoor. This tea can be infused again and again until there is no more taste.  I did infusion for Little One to bring to school too but I did that only once. This drink is good for detoxification of the liver. 
    • Dessert such as Barley and Green Bean Soup - such dessert once a week 
      As I had made Barley Rice for lunch, I did not use barley for dessert. I made Red and Green Bean soup with tapioca balls. You can also mixed  barley and lotus seeds with green bean for dessert.

      As desserts is sweet, so we consume once a week. On other days, I would prefer making green bean or barley porridge instead. No sugar is required when I made those. Green bean detoxifies, helps to clear the respiratory system, and remove heatiness. Barley is diuretic and hence help expel toxins. It nourishes the spleen too.
    • Honey Lemon (This works really well  to remove phlegm)  The acidity of the lemon juice breaks up the mucus. Adding a tablespoon of honey to the mixture soothes your throat.
    • Chinese Watercress soup - Traditional Chinese Medicine states that this vegetable helps dissolves yellowish phlegm due to heat condition of the lungs (source: A Tradition Of Soup by Teresa. M. Chen). Watercress is also diuretic, clearing facial blemishes and improves night vision.
    • Winter melon soup - winter melon detoxifies, clears out mucus and phlegm and promotes digestion

  • Including green bean or barley or both to our porridge, sometimes, even rice.

I was making barley rice and a hard boiled egg with my rice cooker. 

Other remedies 

1. Liquorice root – This ingredient can be boiled together with honeysuckle flower so as to reduce heatiness.
2. Watermelon juice – Reduces heatiness from the body.
3.Chinese pear with lean pork and almond soup – Nourishes the lungs.
4. White fungus – Boil this ingredient with chinese almond and gingko nuts. It nourishes the lungs.
5. Raw-liquorice – Make a tea for lung infections by boiling the ingredient in warm water.
6. Snakegourd fruit – This ingredient dissolves phlegm, and can be eaten alone, or boiled as soup.
7. Lily bulbs with snow fungus– Make the drink by first boiling the snow fungus for two hours, and then adding lily bulbs and rock sugar. This drink clears heatiness and nourishes the lungs.
8. Include oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), in your meal. Oily fish have omega-3 fatty acids, which are an extremely healthy type of fat and can prevent cardiovascular disease.

There I have shared tips on our we fight haze. I hope you find these tips useful too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Floral Art

I attended a library programme to do some floral art. I learnt to trim leaves to make a more beautiful presentation.

Instructor's masterpiece

My creation before (left) and after (right) instructor's touch up 
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