Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Make it work

Oh how fun it is to wake up, eat some Honey Smacks for breakfast (which I could never find in Singapore) and a glass of OJ and then read the posts over at Project Rungay.

Yes, Project Runway is one of the few shows I can actually remember the telecast time of here. The rest of the time I'm flipping through the channels, like last night, after watching the original Alfie on DVD and stumbling on the Fab 5 making people lose weight (and making their friends cry).

And on another note, Greys Anatomy and House are premiering their new seasons next month. How delightful

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

buried in bookdom

I'd heard some good about Tom Perrotta's Little Children over at various book blogs and site I read and was delighted to find a copy at R's friend's house in Ann Arbor. As we were to be there for several days, I figured I'd be able to finish it before we left for the next leg of the road trip.

I was right. It was relatively easy reading. Funny in places and a little disturbing in others.

Surburbia to me always meant cookie-cutter homes, quiet neighbourhoods where you rarely hear sirens blaring like you do in the cities. Life in surburbia is meant to be simple, isn't it?

Not so for Perrotta's families in this rather scathing book where he reveals secrets, hidden desires and exposes the superficiality of the suburbian life.

And then, intrigued by Tom Perrotta's writing, I found a copy of his Joe College at the Champaign library.

on a non-book note, I love being in Illinois and listening to Sufjan Steven's Illinois

Once again, Perrotta brings in a varied cast of characters and although part of it is set in Yale in the 80s, he once again takes it home to the suburbs, where the main character, Danny, comes from. Unlike most other college students though, Danny heads home on vacation to work his dad's lunch truck, known as the Roach Coach.

It was pretty entertaining but I still preferred Little Children.

And then it was on to Isabel Allende's Aphrodite, a truly intriguing book, which showcases her passion for food and her interest in aphrodisiacs.

I loved her chatty, conversational style and the way she brings in references from history, from literature and throws in various recipes, personal anecdotes and tips.

While devouring Aphrodite, my nose also could be found in The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, a beautiful novel about loss and love.

Krauss, by the way, is married to Jonathan Safran Foer.

NY Magazine has an interesting article about her
, although having just read the novel I'm a bit late coming to this article written in 2005.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

flix fix

Besides satisfying my need to read, the Champaign Public Library is also fulfilling another need: DVDs.

Unlike the Singapore libraries, DVDs can be borrowed for free (and CDs too!) for a week.

And so this week, we left the library with:
The Life Aquatic
I (heart) Huckabees
Alfie (the original one with Michael Caine)
Babette's Feast
Sin City

Last week I finally watched:
American Splendor
Beyond The Sea

I've never really looked at the National Library Board's DVD collection - cos I don't have that premium membership where you pay $21 a year for borrowing from the media collection - so I haven't any clue what's available there. But here, it's free. And that rocks my socks off.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Links dump

Links dump
Jeffrey Steingarten expounds on the foie gras ban. (via Megnut)

Author David Long lists his favourite books and more (of which, unfortunately, I have only read 20. I suppose this means more library haunting)

And since I made pancakes for breakfast, using the lovely Nigella Lawson's pancake recipe, here are some of Slashfood's favourite pancake recipes.
(If you're wondering why you should make pancakes, instead of just having toast or cereal, why not? It’s the weekend after all!)

Cute sandwich bags! (off Slashfood)

Wine is cheaper than water?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Everyday, it's a-getting faster

My cursor has hovered over the "+" (new post) sign in my Blogger dashboard for long enough. I suppose it's time again for yet another inane post.

However, what have I been doing that I can blog about?

After the roadtrip, it was all about packing and moving and unpacking and cleaning and then we were finally installed in this much bigger, much brighter apartment. The other place was tiny - a living room/kitchen/dining room and then a bedroom plus bathroom/closet. It was also kinda musty and dark. It didn't help that it was on the ground floor and that it faced the carpark.

This new place though, has a much larger living room and kitchen, and a little dining counter with bar stools. There's a little balcony and more importantly, two rooms so that one can be used as a study instead.

And now that the move has completed, and school has begun, I’ve marvelled at the way time seems to scoot on by since I'm doing absolutely nothing.

I wake up before 8 and have some cereal for breakfast (although I am now at a loss since I just finished the box of Honey Smacks) and flip through the channels before giving up and turning to a book instead. Then it's off for a quick shower and then online to check emails, read blogs, read online papers (except of course for that certain paper which restricts online access....)

After a visit to the library on Monday, I've got another six books to finish. The library here's not too bad. They've got quite a few books (and often, quite a few copies) I want to read and more importantly, they don't have a limit on the number of books you can borrow, just a time limit of 4 weeks. There's also a little DVD and CD collection, which can be borrowed for free for one week. For free. So we checked out Adaptation, American Splendor, Beyond the Sea and Transporter 2. And there are still the DVDs we bought for $7.50 at Walmart that we haven't seen yet.

Plus there's also various other TV shows to watch like all those shows on the Food Network (Alton Brown, Iron Chef etc), Project Runway, reruns of The Simpsons, Gilmore Girls, Malcolm In The Middle... I've also attempted to start reading off my reading list, which the convenor of the MA programme has thoughtfully provided along with her welcome letter (although she did state that it isn't expected that we do the readings, rather that they are "merely introductory suggestions for those who want to get going". And if these 11 are just "introductory suggestions" for the two courses in the first semester, I foresee many times that as the actual reading list. I believe I will be haunting the library when school starts.

So there is plenty to do. Plus there's some cooking to do as well - we finally bought some rice and had Chinese food for dinner (or at least my version of Chinese food - stir-fried xiao bai cai, fried tofu, sesame chicken). And you know me, I love supermarkets. I love poking around the fresh produce section, wondering what to do with these lovely fresh veg you'd never see at NTUC.

And by writing out this blog post, I've managed to while away some of my morning. The Internet is such a lovely time-waster. And yes, it is also a delightfully free way of keeping in touch with my family and friends. So thank you, Internet, for existing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


R says that he thinks I thought the roadtrip was too boring, which is why I can't think of what to write.

ok so i really cant think of where to start, but not because I thought it was boring.

It was fun. It was 10 days of being driven around - the fella bought a manual car and the last time I drove a manual car was when I passed my driving test so I wasn't feeling confident about driving one - up to Chicago, Ann Arbor, Niagara and Toronto.

What a gorgeous city Chicago is! And how lucky we were with weather the two nights we were there. We stayed in the theatre district and it was walking distance to most of the sights.

Like the Magnificent Mile

And the Chicago River, where we took the Chicago Architecture Foundation's river cruise.

The Bean, or as it's officially known, Cloud Gate.

And of course, when you're in Chicago, you gotta have the deep dish pizza, although I must say I still prefer the thin-crust types.

Then it was time to say goodbye to this great city and head off to Ann Arbor, Michicagn, where we hit the outlet mall,
the German town of Frankenmuth, and then lucky me, I fell sick.

Somehow I made it up to Niagara and saw this

Before ending up seeing nothing of Toronto, except for the drive up from Niagara to the hotel and the drive back to Michigan. I did however, manage to put in a lot of TV watching time in the hotel, including the finale of Hells Kitchen. I did also get a sneak peek into life in Toronto - in a doctor's office and pharmacy.

Luckily, the meds seem to be working and we made it back to Illinois safe and sound, only to work the muscles packing, moving, cleaning and unpacking as R moved into his newer (and much nicer and bigger) apartment. This involved many trips to and from the old crummy apartment and several trips to various Walmarts (this place has three) and Meijer to get various supplies (it's back to school time so household supplies are selling like hotcakes - it took two visits to different supermarkets before we found shower hooks!)

We've got another minor roadtrip again, another 3 hours to Chicago to see Wicked, as we got Saturday matinee tickets for Sept 2. Hope the weather will be good.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

all we want to be is lazy

I have an excuse - I'm on vacation!

But since my last post, I have (amongst other things) toured the U of I campus, made bacon and cheese burgers, gotten addicted to this BBC show called Hustle, been driven up to Chicago, marvelled at the architecture of this great city on a river cruise, had some deep dish pizza, had the best hot chocolate in the world (velvety smooth!), walked the Magnificent Mile, viewed the intriguing Thorne miniature rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, watched awesome fireworks at Navy Pier, failed to win $25 front row tickets in the daily Wicked lottery (and ended up buying seats for a weekend in Sept), marvelled at 110-ton Cloud Gate and Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, ate at an old-fashioned drive-in hot dog joint and more..

And now, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, shopped till I nearly dropped at the Birch Run outlet malls (buying stuff from Levi's, Bath and Body Works, Reebok, Jockey, Bass, Gap and Pepperidge Farm), had a picnic lunch by the Huron River, visited the original Borders bookstore, learnt that Big Boy doesnt just exist in Austin Powers movies...!

More adventures to come as we head north into Canada tomorrow. Oh and pictures will appear eventually...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

same same but different

It's mostly cookie-cutter eating here.

You've got the Red Lobster, the Olive Garden, all the usual suspect fast food chains and more.

And yesterday, for dinner, it was Smokey Bones, also a chain apparently, (its website boasts of over 100 restaurants in the east and midwest) but I'd never heard of it before.

Far better than bland odd-tasting pasta from Olive Garden was Smokey Bones' BBQ platter of St Louis-style smoked ribs and smoked beef brisket, served with garlic bread, and two sides (we chose mashed potatoes with gravy and coleslaw).

The ribs were tender and had a great marinade but I doubt I'll bother with beef brisket again (unless we're talking the Hong Kong-style noodles) as they were really salty and seemed a bit overdone to me - unless that's the way beef brisket's supposed to be cooked - it is, after all, a tough side of beef). The brisket might've worked better with a sauce.

The best part about the meal was the skillet cornbread - the leftovers made a great breakfast when baked in the over for a few minutes, and smothered with more butter.

And then there's Panera Bread, a bakery-cafe chain where we (and many others, judging by the never ending queue) had lunch on Monday.

R had the soup and salad combo for $6.29 - he chose the french onion soup and chicken caesar salad.

I let my sweet tooth take over and succumbed to a french toast bagel with a honey walnut cream cheese spread. And for dessert, a lemon poppyseed mini bundt cake.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

here they go again

OK Go do it this time on treadmills (via lancerlord)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I must say that while I expected summer in the Midwest to be hot, I never expected the Humidity.

In combat, litres of water are being guzzled and the fans and a/c are being put to good use.

Meanwhile, watch The Muppets' Swedish Chef! (ok so it might not really help make things less hot)


Reading can open up the world, even if it's a feature story in the newspaper.

I came across this piece by Julia Reid about growing up with her blind parents.

Mine was a pretty ordinary childhood. But not everyone saw it that way. One word sums up people's response to the news that my parents are totally blind: incredulity. Incredulity that they could cook, get around, perform the general tasks of everyday life - let alone raise three children, including twins, while holding down successful professional careers.

A humbling read.