Is it too early for a reflection-on-the-whole-year sort of post? Well I didn’t intend it, but I wanted to post a sketch from Mongolia, and I think reflection necessarily comes with thoughts of Mongolia.
(Again, kind of surprised that I still know how to use Photoshop, sort of.)
2016 is, as a whole, a pretty sucky year. Except that I went to Mongolia this year, and that may very well make up for the rest of the year. I’m not sure if I can put into written word the special-ness of that trip without being incoherent. I spent almost the entire trip fretting and praying that I would not fall off my horse and down the hills and to my death. And then I spent the following week back home feeling, in place of those said worries, not relief but hollowness. I think, maybe, that may just about sum it up and anyway I never intended this to be a wordy blog.
And then, of course, since Mongolia, a lot of things happened… both far away and closer to home.
Much more recently, I finally visited the new National Gallery of Singapore, with Mas. I really enjoyed Iskandar Jalil’s Kembara Tanah Liat collection. But the beauty of the shapes and the colours are quite difficult to capture in drawing. So on my journey home, I embarked on attempts at Georgette Chen instead:
out of shape/proportion.
still pretty out of proportion in the facial features, but I liked it enough to play around with.
I guess despite all the sucky things that happened this year, it has been a sobering year. And I am quite thankful for that.
As the Foo Fighters say, “It’s times like these / you learn to live again; It’s times like these / you give and give again”.
Or maybe that’s all bullshit, but I don’t want to stop trying.
I went painting on Sunday and finally “finished” the previously-WIP painting.
I say “finished” because it was very difficult to declare it “finished”… I felt that I could keep going on trying to make it better because it can never be perfect. =_=
Decided to add some fishes into the empty space because (1) there was an empty space, and (2) who doesn’t like fishes? bloop.
I can’t believe I missed the posting date for this (27th) – I was looking forward to and couldn’t wait to post about it!
I joined the Daring Kitchen last month and received my first challenge this month. The rule is that a challenge is issued at the start of the month and all the members have to post their attempt at the challenge attempt on the 27th of the month.
Korena from Korena in the Kitchen set the challenge in October and got everyone to make decorated Swiss rolls. (Hers look incredibly pretty.)
…And what a challenge it was. I had been hoping for something a little bit more familiar (like…bread) but I guess the whole point of joining these challenges is to try something new.
Making a cake is certainly more fiddly to me than baking bread, and it felt like an endless step by step process. But at the end of it, I think I managed to produce something half-decent.
A horse roll, in honour of the Mongolian horses I love (especially “my” horse!) and who really love rolling on the grass. :p
It is a chocolate sponge made with Korena’s recipe (with the addition of cocoa), although I reduced the sugar by a little bit. My house was utterly devoid of any cream or even milk, so I had to look for alternative recipes for the filling. Luckily we had some cream cheese lying around, and I found a recipe for a cream cheese filling. I added chopped walnuts, raisins/sultanas and chocolate to the filling.
I was not very good at rolling, and the roll also got a little squished/deformed as it was chilling in the fridge, so there isn’t a very noticeable roll. It turned out to be pretty tasty though. 😀
But in terms of aesthetics, I rather prefer how the baking paper turned out after peeling it from the cake… rather like a piece of cave art.
I’m still really happy with how it turned out though. I think I still much prefer baking bread, but I enjoyed the challenge and I’m looking forward to the next one!
I thought I would post about one of my current distractions – baking bread (which, irrelevantly but interestingly, is the total opposite of breaking bad).
I got interested in bread only because I thought that it was something I might enjoy, having had no prior experience with it. (Currently having the same thoughts about wood working…) So I picked up a book from the library and gave it a go. My first attempt wasn’t too bad – it was a 100% whole wheat loaf. But neither the process nor the outcome felt like something I would be addicted to.
And then a whole other set of circumstances got me sucked in entirely.
First, my dad started subscribing to Netflix, where I watched the documentary series “Cooked”. One of the episodes related to bread and specifically, baking using sourdough instead of commercial yeast. That reminded me of something Wan Ting had mentioned to me (about how she only used sourdough for bread baking, because it’s better) but which I had shelved in the back of my mind. And then, I went after the book on which the documentary was adapted. After reading material after material about sourdough (and also feeling entirely disgusted by today’s commercial practices) I couldn’t stop reading and watching various posts and videos on sourdough methods and recipes.
And so my first attempt at sourdough:
Total bread failure (TBF).
I could not figure out what was wrong at the time, but the dough did not rise, and neither did it rise when in the oven. I only figured out later that it must have been my sourdough starter that was the problem – it was emitting the most sickly smell for days on end, and there must have been an excess of bacteria and insufficient yeast in that colony.
After many days of frustration, somehow it all worked out. I can’t quite remember whether I decided to make a new starter afresh, or whether I chucked the old one in the fridge, or tried a new starter out of the old one, or a combination of all of the above. Long story short, I now have 3 tubs of yeast population in the fridge, probably too much for someone who bakes only 2-3 times a month.
Since the TBF, I have had many more successes (with a smattering of minor failures):
From left to right, top down: walnut bread (yeasted) (taking a break from sourdough attempts), my 2nd and successful sourdough loaf, a whole wheat sourdough loaf, a pumpkin and walnut sourdough loaf, another wholewheat sourdough loaf, a rather badly shaped but still delicious sourdough challah, a better shaped and delicious sourdough challah, mini pizzettes (yeasted), and whole wheat croissants (yeasted).
(I have a few other attempts recorded in my old phone, which I have yet to upload.)
I’m itching to try yet another new loaf soon. 🙂
A progress shot taken just yesterday on a painting I’ve been working on (still not finished after a 2nd session!):
I’m not doing too well on this blog, am I? I will now make it up with more words than usual!
In my purported but not quite valid defence, I have quite a few more life distractions now. One big, unhealthy distraction is the new phone that I just got a few months ago… As my friends are well aware now, encouraging me to get a “smartphone” was not a great idea at all because the only things I use it for are (a) games and (b) reading ASOIAF metas. (What are metas? Let’s not get into that because I am already a big enough nerd as it is.)
I also have other, healthier obsessions though. For one thing, I got into bread baking. What really hooked me was when I started getting into sourdough. It was so difficult to get the hang on at first – my family had to deal with multiple tubs of growing yeast colonies – but once the first loaf succeeded I just couldn’t stop. I’m also growing a mini garden of indoor plants – we currently have little tomato, chilli and coriander saplings in little pots. We also have some onions, and the shoots went into garnishing some fried rice tonight (Mba said that we have real organic food now, haha).
I’m also excited now that guitar lessons are finally caught up to my current playing ability, so every lesson is much more challenging and interesting. (I hope we can sneak in some non-classical songs to learn.)
I suppose I’ve also been not entirely successful with healthily distracting myself from work sometimes (largely because I get into the unhealthy distractions, and then I don’t have time to finish my work, etc).
I guess since this blog is meant to celebrate life’s little distractions, I will post more pictures of my other exploits in future.
Something from 2009 which I just recently uncovered:
So these were characters that I used to draw pretty often… One is a wizard, and the other is an assassin (because, Rurouni Kenshin ftw). I had a storyline going for the latter, though incomplete, and for a long time it was my dream to turn that story into a comic. Luckily I’m a fervent note-taker and hoarder. Ha.
Then, something from recently:
Ted and Jude, who else.
On a sidenote, it seems like I turn to drawing (only) when most of everything else sucks. Though in a way I’m grateful that I have at least that, the last bastion when everything else is, or seems to be, crumbling.
A “thing” that online artists do is to upload “progress charts” where they show something from several years ago compared to current work. Usually the difference is pretty astounding (otherwise there’s no point uploading it, really). So this is a not-progress chart, because not much has changed, even when it has.
Finally, something recent! \o/
Last week, in the midst of closing submissions hell, I decided to stick it to the man and use the office scanner to scan in my new-ish doodles. This one is from late 2014 / early this year… when I was still in the midst of my ASOIAF / GoT obsession. (I still like it of course, but I’m no longer walking around with my nose buried in the book.)
Decided to give it a little snazz too… pleasantly surprised that I still sort of knew how to use Photoshop!!