Just to let you know…

Flower Ruffle Scarf - Take I

…I have changed my mind and decided to feature some handknitted or hand-crochet scarves over at the shop. It was the first yarn-related craft that I was introduced to anyway – yes, I learnt this from my mum.

Anyway, I’m starting off with a flower ruffle scarf – a pattern that is modified from the generic ruffle scarf pattern; I changed virtually every single row so much so that it quite doesn’t look like the ruffle scarf anymore. I plan on crocheting a generic ruffle scarf as well (and yes, I have Lion Brand’s permission to sell items made with it). This little baby will be done up in a few colours – solid as well as variegated or semi-solid. The pink one, featured in the photo, is now finished and available for sale over at the Etsy store, so have a go look-see!!!

I better get back to my crochet and blogging assignments. What does one write about Lipozene reviews anyway?

**Cross-posted on the shop’s blog**

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Potstickers aka Jiaozi/Gyoza

The filling

Known as potstickers in the United States, jiaozi (Mandarin) or gyoza (Japanese) is originally a Chinese dumpling that has now become popular outside of China in places like Korea, Taiwan, Japan, South-East Asia and even in the US. It is usually made to usher in the Chinese New Year but if I had it my way, I’d eat it just about every other day!

Many people make the mistake by confusing potstickers with wontons – there is a difference. Wontons are made with a thinner egg-based skin, sphere-shaped and usually eaten deep-fried or in a broth, whereas potstickers are made with a thicker water-based dough, shaped like a horn and steamed, pan-fried or boiled with a side dipping sauce. Even the traditional filling is slightly different from that of wontons – potsticker fillings utilize cabbage, spring onions (scallions), leek and chives for that lovely flavour. I got my recipe from Jen Yu over at jenyu.net with some slight modifications since I didn’t have leek or chives at hand and I didn’t want to use scrimp.

The outcome is nonetheless still flavourful and has cemented a place in my favourite food list! Yes, potstickers will definitely be a regular dish in our home! Oh, yes, we finished this while catching up on some Mind Your Language and also trying to figure out some details about air tools.

Wrapping them up...

Potstickers aka Jiaozi

Ingredients

(A) Filling
Beef mince meat
Dried mushrooms (soak in hot water until reconstituted/soft)
Spring onions
1 inch ginger
1.5 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp corn flour
Soy sauce & pepper to taste

(B) Dough
2 cups flour
3/4 cup warm water

(C) Dipping sauce
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (dark/white)
Ginger

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in (A) and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until absorbed. Continue adding water a little at a time and mixing well until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.
  3. Knead about 20 strokes before covering with a damp cloth & setting aside for 15 minutes. When ready, quarter the dough and roll into a cyclinder. On a floured surface, cut 3/4 inch discs from the strips.
  4. With each disc, form a circle with your fingers or by pressing down before rolling each circle out with a rolling disc to form a circular wrapper. Nothing too thin otherwise it could break during transferring or cooking; nothing too thick unless you like chewy thick doughs with your filling.
  5. Place a tablespoon of filling into the center, fold the dough into half and pleat the edges along one side like a fan.
  6. Place the dumplings in some oil in a pan and cook on high heat until the bottoms are golden brown. Add 1/2 cup of water into the pan and quickly cover to avoid a splattery mess. Remove the cover when the water has cooked away (the potstickers would look shiny and nearly translucent) and cook on medium/medium-high heat for another two minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and serve as is with the dipping sauce.

NOTE: You can also freeze these to cook for later. After the pleating, put them together on a baking sheet (make sure they don’t touch) and freeze for 20 minutes or until they are hard to the touch. Store in ziploc bags in the freezer. They ought to be able to keep for some months. Cook them as per instructions given but allow more time for the meat to thoroughly cook through.

Yummy potstickers!

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Trying to make sense of it all…

I think it’s time I be truly honest on this blog. I’ve never spoke of my current trials or how hard it has been for me these past few months because well, family back at home read this and I didn’t want them to worry unnecessarily. Perhaps it wasn’t really a good move to begin with considering how I do rant about my really uncomfortable situation often enough to friends and Nil.

Le sigh…

It’s been six months since I joined the Malaysian diaspora and become one of those people who so-called left home for “greener” pastures. Yes, it was around this time in February that I made the move to join my foreigner of a husband working in foreign country. Unlike the other regular M’sian expats, I moved to a country where I don’t speak the language, and one that only become a full member of the UN in 2002.

When it dawned on my family that I was leaving, I could sense that while many were happy for me, there was that twinge of envy at mine being able to leave a place they would gladly label as turbulent and fraught with much racial tension. It doesn’t help that there are many parties in Malaysia who see no qualm in telling us Chinese to go back to where we came from; never mind that we come from Malaysia.

Anyway, “greener” pastures, you say? Call me sadistic but reading a new friend’s entry about her own experiences as an educated expat from an Asian country made me feel some form of relief and crazy gladness. I’m not alone, I like to think. While she speaks mostly of her encounter with other Filipinos, my story probably revolves more around integrating into the community here – in terms of employment mostly. Granted that I’ve just been here for six months, I still find it hard to adjust to the fact that looking for a job suddenly isn’t so easy anymore.

There is just something about Swiss companies/people in general – even if the job requires you to converse only in English, a lack of fluent French can prove to be a downfall. I can’t help but feel a twinge of envy when I read about another Malaysian’s success at securing a job in Italy so quickly upon her arrival in the country here. In my case, it has taken me nearly 20 applications, excluding the nine that I’m about to send out tomorrow – and six months AND still, I’m no where close to securing an interview much or less a job. This coupled with rules tied to the permit that I currently hold…well, things aren’t so green really.

Jay-Ann, that new friend of mine, shares her ups and downs very candidly and honestly in her blog. Seriously we have so many things in common that you can almost find it unbelievable – considering that we have never met until my first French class last week. Reading her post and many others brings a twang of sadness; sometimes I think I lack the conviction which I so vehemently advise others to undertake.

I can’t help but feel that I have a love-hate relationship with this country. Sometimes I wonder if the problem lies with me and my qualifications, if it’s a lack of faith that I have or simply that the system isn’t just so simple anymore. The lack of friends, the lack of unemployment…things have become somewhat challenging. I can’t really say for sure that I’m homesick – naturally I miss my family and friends; it’s not so much the feeling of homesickness in me but more of the wanting and longing to be whole again, to not carry out the burden of having a double identity, to not feel as if your life is just limited to life in the little apartment that you are in control over…

Making friends with the neighbours is out of the norm in these parts – mine just keep themselves, the young ones that is; the elderly are more generous with their greetings and smiles but it’s like nothing back at home. My mum did ask what I do all day cooped up in my apartment; while I did answer that there was always something to do, there is a part of me that can’t help but feel the same way she must have felt when she arrived in June for a visit.

The transition from having a career to being a femme au foyer isn’t going so smoothly actually…and here I am, six months on and still trying to make a sense of things… Maybe I ought to drown myself in good old-fashioned pumpkin pie – it’s the season for it anyway…

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The favourites!

Here is a look at my favourite items from this update:

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For more, go have a look at the Etsy store!

Oh, did I fail to mention that four of the very yummy merino-cashsilk laceweight skeins are on sale? 8)

**Cross-posted on the shop’s blog**

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Le Tour des Alpes 08: Neuchatel – Interlaken – Airolo

Our first road trip together saw us on the Alpine trail, covering four different countries within a span of six days – Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. We rented a car – again from Autoeurope (because they have the best deals around – and camped (in a tent with sleeping bags & mats) under the stars. Yes, late summer/early winter and we’re camping along mountain passes at temperatures of around 2.5 to 5 C. I’m brave, aren’t I?

Anyway, verdict? The entire trip was amazing – great views, good food, and plenty of bonding time and no, I don’t mean sex but really bonding! Oh, if you can, stock up on baby wipes and fruits/snacks in the car plus plenty of CDs. And don’t forget a lantern if you’re camping, otherwise, it’s lights out after 8pm. 😀

Day 1: Neuchâtel – Interlaken – Airolo
The highlight for this day would be the Interlaken region, specifically around the small town of Kleiner Scheidegg which is the take-off station for those heading to the Jungfraujoch. If you’re heading there by car, it’s best to stop at Grindelwald and take the train up to the Scheidegg. There, you can opt to take another train to the Jungfraujoch or go for the many hiking trails around the area. Either way, you’ll have a spectacular view of the three famous Interlaken mountains – Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau.

It took us about two and half hours to get from Neuchâtel to the Interlaken, longer if you’re taking the train. The view gets better as you’re nearing the region so don’t despair if the countryside, farms and dots of cows don’t tickle your fancy at first.

Eiger---Monsch---Jungfrau

Anyway, at the Scheidegg, we chose the latter and took a 45 minute walk up the slope facing the centre and those three gorgeous mountains. The weather was amazingly good with clear blue skies and warm sunshine; great weather in fact for a picnic which was what we did. Don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather. Even though it was a clear day with ample sunshine, the winds make things rather chilly for unsuspecting/unknowing visitors so a good fleece jacket plus a thin scarf is good for trips during the late summer/early autumn season.

Grimsel-pass-2

After spending about two hours or so at the Scheinegg, we took the train back down to Grindelwald and headed off in the direction of Airolo, choosing to use the mountain pass road. Being in the Alpine region means that many countries have mountain passes offering shelter and food not to mention great opportunities for a picture postcard view to visitors, travellers and tourists. Located at an altitude of 2165 metres, the Grimsel Pass is between the valley of the Rhone River in the canton of Valais and the Haslital (upper valley of the Aar river) in the canton of Bern. The Rhone river starts nearby at the Rhone Glacier and flows down through Geneva and heads pass Lyon before ending in the Mediterranean Sea. A long trip, if you ask me!

Grimsel-pass-1

After the pass, we tend proceeded to head off to Airolo via the Nufenen Pass (2478 m) and at the time, it would probably interest you to know that we’ve actually crossed over from the French speaking area to the German and finally to the Italian side of Switzerland. Airolo is a small-ski resort during the winter but most of the time, it is a pretty quiet Italian town that is characterised by colourful houses which are not quite as arranged as compared to the German villages/town. It was here that we camped for the night.

To be continued…

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Soon, soon…

Yes, soon we’ll be back to the regular programming of blog posts and pictures because right now, I’m busy getting everything back on track PLUS trying not to miss French class (which will start in one hour). In case you’re wondering…Nil and I have just returned from a trip around the Alps so anticipate some really gorgeous pics coming up soon, ya? 🙂

In the meantime, Nil and I are wondering if we should cave in and get a laptop for moi since mine fizzled out months ago and there is a sale at the local electronics store. The model we saw is around our budget with great laptop memory…but the question is – do I really need a lappie?

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Hurrying things along…

Here I am, a few hours shy from midnight and taking a break from my dyeing. The rovings are nearly done – I’m tempted to add some alpaca in but we’ll see how it goes – and the laceweight cone has now been split into 50 gm skeins. There is still the matter of skeining them into the right “shape” for the dyeing process but at least a good portion of my work is done.

There is also the matter of going for badminton in a few minutes but a friend of ours had to cancel so it gives me more time to finish up my store updates for next week!

What definitely makes things a little harder is getting an assignment for drug treatment and drug rehab. Yes, it’s one of those days where I just get the strangest of assignments – one that I’ve introduced before on this blog. Y’know, those fancy club-type rehab centres with a great view of the sea/lake and lots of spa-like facilities. Still, it brings in some cash so I shouldn’t complain.

Anyway, on other aspects, autumn is approaching, which means less light and well, twenty-four hours won’t seem like twenty-four hours anymore. O’well…it’s back to dyeing for me. Pics ought to be up…soon!

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Too little time!

Merino/Cashmere/Silk laceweight in Morning Skies

Since Nil took the entire week off from work, we have sort of decided to travel around Switzerland – which leaves me very little time to prepare for next week’s update for the shop. There are Swiss wool rovings, Friesien plus some merino and this time, very yummylicious merino/silk/cashmere laceweight planned for the coming update (the pic ought to tell you just how yummy it is!) so the steamer has been a little busy.

There are no real colour themes this time; I’m going on what inspires me for the moment, especially after spending the weekend at my mother-in-law’s place (she lives, breaths and eats colour, being an artist and all!). The rovings are seeing some action in warm shades with an occasional blue and green, and the laceweights are looking to be some semi-solid beauties – I’m utterly tempted to keep them all for myself!!!

Oh, and did I mention that French classes are starting tomorrow? Yes, I’ve to be at the centre by 9:30am – it’s Switzerland so no tardiness – and will be hanging out there for the next two hours. Afterwhich, there is a trip to get another water bottle for the two boys (read: gerbils) followed by a package drop-off. Ah…a busy day ahead…

So here I am, a little high on Clariette – my wedding wine – (we have guests over and such) and I need to work on some stitch markers plus blog about network switches. Twenty-four hours in a day is too little, really! 😉

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