LOOK, A BIRD!

Distractions from everyday life.

where do you want to go?

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Keith and Stinky (and probably one of the Brownies), Mongolia 2017

There are times when riding a horse when it feels strange, out of rhythm — especially when in Mongolia, the horse may be chugging along but I am a few strides behind. Then I am just bumping along, dragged unwillingly through the momentum.

That is how the last few weeks have felt like. Me, following along with the never-stopping ticking clocks. Looking forward to any small opportunity to pull myself together again but never quite managing to.

I thought it was just Mongolia, and the melancholy that naturally comes after the end of the trip. But it is starting to feel like a funk, generally.

At some point I’ve got to get it together but just now I’d really like another afternoon by the river, another gallop up a hill, heck even another shit in the woods. Where do I go if all I know is I want to get away?

Written by dratn

July 31, 2017 at 4:24 pm

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The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives

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It’s done… for now.

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Written by dratn

April 15, 2017 at 4:11 pm

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if I look back

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Something from earlier this year. I’ve found myself needing to remind myself of this mantra a lot this year, and it is much-needed now with all the recent welling up of self-doubt. Sigh.

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This is of course Daenerys’s mantra which is also a recurring one in her journey. I may be no mother of dragons but I’d certainly like to grow as much as she’s done.

These were separate multiple attempts to sketch Dany but which I realised also sort of worked together as a sequential panel.

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March 5, 2017 at 7:22 am

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Colours of the sky, and larch trees in autumn

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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.

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(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:

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out of shape/proportion.

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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”.

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thinking

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Or maybe that’s all bullshit, but I don’t want to stop trying.

Written by dratn

December 25, 2016 at 11:02 am

Waterlilies (updated)

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I went painting on Sunday and finally “finished” the previously-WIP painting.

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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.

Written by dratn

October 31, 2016 at 2:25 pm

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Daring Kitchen (Oct 2016): Horse Roll

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Written by dratn

October 28, 2016 at 10:41 am

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Bread

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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:

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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. 🙂

Written by dratn

October 11, 2016 at 12:33 am

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