Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Red Packet Dress

Red envelopes filled with money, known as red packets or 'hong bao', are often exchanged during the Chinese New Year. Which was the reason for my trip to Singapore - so I could give out (and receive) some of those delightful envelopes! It is also traditional to wear a new outfit for the Chinese New Year, and although I never need an excuse for a new outfit, I was very happy to work on a new dress for the occasion. 
It may have been a 'new' dress, but the fabric certainly wasn't brand new. The shiny, red brocade fabric came from eBay about six months ago - I think they started life in the 1960s destined to become curtains, but were left somewhere and forgotten about, until I got my hands on them. Curtains? No way, they were much too magnificent for that!
Dress - selfmade, Tights - Sainsburys, Shoes - Hongkong (a very long time ago)
The dress itself is fairly simple - a sleeveless, jewel necked bodice, with darts at midriff and bust, and a half-circle skirt on the bottom. I lined the bodice with some cream habutai silk - very luxurious, and very comfortable too, especially in the tropical heat. I also put in a lapped zipper in the centre back seam, using a vintage metal zipper from my stash. 

The brocade fabric is fairly thick, so I ended up with a fairly heavy dress, and I was worried that I would be sweating in a very unladylike manner throughout the day. I'd even thought of bringing a petticoat along to give the skirt even more floof, but then decided against giving myself heatstroke. Good thing I decided against that option! When the time came though, the dress actually turned out to be surprisingly comfortable, and the perspiration was kept to a very bare minimum. I'm pretty sure the habutai lining helped in keeping cool - I'm definitely a fan of it now. It may be more expensive than other kinds of lining material, but I think it's worth the expense. 
Lastly, I finished the hem with some horsehair braid (following Gertie's tutorial) to give it some shape. That handsewing very nearly defeated me - I was frantically catchstitching just hours before my flight on Friday morning. I think it was worth it though - the hem certainly stands out nicely instead of hanging limply around my knees. 

Looking like a walking, talking red packet certainly seemed to pay off during the Chinese New Year, as I ended up collecting quite a few of those wonderful envelopes during the course of my holiday!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Night Watch

Singapore at night...

From ground level and from over 30 stories up. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

New World, (not so) New Year!

Well, this little post is rather late, isn't it? I had meant to write it up just after the New Year, but we are now nearly a quarter of the way into 2012 which means I have failed rather miserably. 

I know that I've claimed quite a few times in the past that Dragon Castle was my favourite dim sum place in London, but I'm afraid that is a lie. It's actually only my second favourite, having been pushed out by a new contender. That interloper happens to be New World in Chinatown - an old stalwart which I've recently sort of 'rediscovered'. 
Rice noodle rolls with prawns
Deepfried savoury dumplings with a minced pork filling
Tripe with...stuff
Prawn dumplings - har gow
Deepfried prawn and pork spring rolls
Crispy roast pork belly
Roast suckling pig
The dim sum served here is more or less similar to the prawn and pork mince-based items served in most dim sum places, along with a few other specials including roast suckling pig. I was particularly excited to try the suckling pig. It proved, however, to be slightly disappointing - while the meat itself was tender and succulent, the skin (which I had looked forward to) was hardly crisp and crackly, probably a result of having sat too long in the cart. 

Oh yes, the carts! Probably the main reason why New World is now top of my list - the waitstaff here trundle around with little carts stacked full of dainty dishes. The carts are brought round to your table, where you can point at the dishes that take your fancy. It makes for a much more entertaining meal, as well as negates the need for the guessing game that sometimes occurs when faced with a long list of dishes. 

Other carts are filled with boiling stock and topped with nests of noodles, much like street food carts in some Asian countries. You can ask for freshly cooked noodles in soup, made right in front of you. I resisted the temptation to go for a bowl of noodles this time, but that's not to say I won't be so wise in future.
Deepfried prawn springrolls wrapped in beancurd skin
Dessert soup thing of mango juice with grapefruit and mango bits 
This little bowl of soupy dessert has now become my new favourite dim sum dessert. The first time I went to New World, I asked for my usual dessert option of mango pudding - the delicious but boring choice - but was offered this because the pudding was out of stock. The cold, sweet and slightly citrusy 'soup' is light and just refreshing enough after a heavy dim sum meal, and definitely much more interesting than a mango pudding. But I still love you too, mango pudding...

New World
1 Gerrard Street

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Glasgow Necropolis

On the last day of our trip to Glasgow last December (I know, I know, so long ago!), we had a few hours before catching our train back to London, so decided to go for a walk to Glasgow Necropolis.

Fresh snow had fallen the night before, blanketing the cemetery in a carpet of white. It made a lovely contrast against the dark Victorian gravestones and monuments. The Necropolis hadn't been on my list of places to visit, but I'm glad we went. The short, quiet stroll along the lonely graves turned out to be one of my favourite moments in Glasgow. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

True Love

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A Dainty Thai Cat

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

In Flight

Hello, lovers! It's been a while, but I'm back, with plenty more pictures to come. Where was I? Off on a manic two week trip to Singapore - Thailand - Singapore and then back to London last Friday. Just in time too, it turned out, as the snow finally visited on Saturday. I'm still feeling a little jetlagged and getting my head around actually having to do W.O.R.K., but there will be some holiday snaps and a holiday dress up soon.