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Archive for May, 2011

Cookery Update!

I probably should’ve linked this to the last post, but that’s okay.

An update to the newer dishes I’ve made (of which I haven’t uploaded any of the photos yet).

  • strawberry, mango, avocado salad
  • Chinese cold noodles
  • cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread
  • drunken steamed prawns
  • drunken sambal stirfry prawns
  • stirfry chicken and cucumbers

5 more dishes to go! I head back to Toronto today to visit family, so that’s a week off. We’ll see if I meet my goal by month end! :)

Are small apartments the new cool?

Because if so, it’s about time. I’ve been uncool for the last two years.

I get a lot of strange looks when I tell people how small my apartment is. In all fairness, I complain about it a lot as well. I whine that the kitchen is tiny, that the appliances are old, that we don’t have enough places to store things and on and on and on. But recently I’ve been seeing more and more posts about how cool small apartments are. Of course, they’re some pretty decked out small apartments, with bathtubs that turn into tables that turn into a bookcase or something crazy like that.

My current place is 330 square feet. It’s in between the ones being shown online (marvel at the 258sf one here, and the 344 one here). From what I can tell in the videos, the only catch is that my place holds two people, instead of one. Now, I’m not saying I’m awesome (there are lots of people who live in even smaller conditions), but I just want to say that it’s completely doable.

My thoughts:

  • Be honest. Don’t take a small space because you want to change the world or feel good about making a difference. That will most likely lead to resentment and possible claustrophobia. Ensure you have a plan when you sign the lease or paper with what you’re going to do, how you will set things up, and what you will sacrifice.
  • Be realistic. It’s okay to look at a large space and dream about the days you can live in your perfect house with a sprawling lawn by the water. But how much space do you really need? What rooms are most utilized in your place? You’d be surprised what you can live without. The most difficult thing for me to let go was my dining room table. I complained that getting rid of it would mean I would never have guests over ever again. But it was true that I never had dinners at our old 1 bdrm apartment either, so it clearly wasn’t the dining room table that was stopping me from having guests. Now I have dinner parties in the common lounge in the building, and it works out just fine.
  • Be focused. Making the commitment to a small apartment takes a lot of effort. The place needs to constantly be clean otherwise it looks like a war zone. Counters need to be cleared because you only have so much room. Clothes need to be put away as soon as the laundry is done. It’s also a great opportunity to throw away things you don’t need. A small space means you have less opportunities to keep junk around. Previously I hid a lot of junk in shoe boxes under the dining table (again, another indication I bought a dining table for no reason). When we moved to the new place, I threw out / donated / sold a lot of randomness that I realized I’d never use. And while it made me sad at the time, I honestly haven’t ever had a need for 3 aprons, 2 santa hats, a gazillion girly thank you cards, and all that other stuff.
  • Layouts are everything. You’ll notice in both those videos that despite the small rooms, they give the illusion of a large space. The most awesome article is for the apartment in Hong Kong, where it shows the previous layouts of the space since 1976. You can see how it went from a really tight space with walls everywhere into a more open multi-purpose room. Ensure your small space doesn’t have a lot of narrow hallways (I guess this goes for any space).

People always look at me funny (and not in a good way funny) when I tell them I live in a small place. And I don’t like it too sometimes. I’m embarrassed to tell people how small my place is, I’m sad I can’t have dinner parties or have people crash on my floor when visiting (well, I’ll let people crash on my floor, but I suspect it’s pretty awkward for them). But I have an end-goal in mind: A and I will move back to Toronto at some point in time, and when that happens, we will have saved enough put a significant down payment on our new home. I have my eye on the prize, and I know that this is worth it. Besides, small places are only small when it’s pointed out (either by yourself or by others). The rest of the time, it’s just another place to live.

Cookery!

I always have trouble focusing on things. Not like, a short term “ooh look, something shiny” sorta deal (although that’s been known to happen too), but more like: I’ll look at my vacation for the year and say “I should go somewhere”, and then I begin to look at my finances, and I’ll say “I need to stop spending so much”, and then I’ll look at my credit card receipts and say “I’m going to learn to cook more”. And now that I’m cooking more, I’ve completely forgot about planning a vacation.

Which reminds me, I need to plan a vacation.

But in the meantime, I’ve been trying to utilize my kitchen a lot more. I’m really inspired by Smitten Kitchen (omg, I tried to type in a href tag and almost forgot how). Smitten Kitchen is a blog for a lovely lady who has a tiny tiny kitchen in New York where she feeds her family of 3. I suspect her kitchen might be smaller than mine (I know, crazy right?) because her oven size seems to be smaller than mine. But I don’t use my oven anyways, since it’s mainly used to store pots and pans.

Anyways, I stumbled on her blog and thought that if she could be happy in her tiny kitchen, then I can do the same. I used to complain that I couldn’t cook anything decent because my kitchen was too small. But then I bought a kitchen cart with a butcher block top and I’ve been so happy with it. I think the one thing I complain about now is being unable to host people because we live in a really small bachelors pad. Le sigh.

I started with something small when green beans were in season:

And from there I started to make some easy recipes.
Some worked:

And some didn’t:

But I’m still excited and determined to develop some serious cooking skills. New goal: Cook 20 new things this month. So far I’ve made:

  1. strawberry meringue cake
  2. egg custard
  3. sausage & broccoli in a garlic alfredo cream sauce
  4. broccoli soup
  5. spicy stir-fried green beans
  6. garlic soup
  7. japchae
  8. chinese stir-fried spot prawns
  9. lobster thermidor

To see the dishes, click here!

11 more dishes to go!

I know what you’re thinking, only 20 dishes? Well, I’m making a visit back home this month, so I figured 20 is a realistic number. I had originally put 30 down, but I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t make my goal, especially since this is supposed to be a fun learning experience for me. :)

What’s going on?

*Blows the dust off* Wow, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

I took a hiatus from blogging as I’m sure you’ve noticed. I felt like I wasn’t really saying anything of importance, so it didn’t really matter if I put things up here. But then I started to miss it, and sometimes I would think back to what I did last month and my brain would be full of tumble weeds. Just tumbling along.

So I’m back. The updates won’t be very frequent, but I’m feeling the need to do some documenting, because even photos aren’t enough sometimes. Like when you look at a picture and you see everyone smiling, you can remember that it was a great day and the dinner was nice, but do you really remember when Steph commented about an old boyfriend writing her poems using the lyrics to backstreet boys until she finally said — and then Chris interrupts with “quit playing games with my heart” and everyone nearly threw up laughing? Those aren’t the memories I want to forget. I know some friends are for life, but for the ones whose paths cross with yours for a brief point in time, what will you remember about them? And what will you remember about yourself when you look back 10 years from now? Will you remember all those promises you made to improve your life, to learn new skills, to do something amazing?

I read somewhere that people who write down their goals and document their thought process are the most likely to succeed at achieving them, simply because they’ve thought it out well enough on paper that it becomes realistic enough. So let’s start there. I’ll post again in a bit with a one year plan and we’ll see how far we get.

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