Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Alexa Chung, Lady Gaga and Rihanna

Yesterday afternoon was spent watching Youtube videos of the apparently-now-cancelled MTV show, It's on with Alexa, where Alexa Chung interviews actors, singers etc.

Among her guests, I was most interested in Lady Gaga and Rihanna's interview because they were so different. And I don't just mean different in the way one person is different from another, but: they're both huge stars and they both have a very distinct character and style that's stuck to them.

But during the interview, they couldn't be more different!

Okay, to be honest, Lady Gaga is absolutely different from all the other guests, but I only chose to compare her to Rihanna cuz they were the two biggest guests on the show.

Lady Gaga stares straight at the audience even when she's replying directly to Alexa and only occasionally glances at Alexa for the shortest of moments. Which could really come across as being rude or arrogant (I imagine Alexa had a hard time talking to the side of her huge blonde wig), but Lady Gaga seems to have averted that impression (to me, at least) by being very open in her answers. She never evaded anything and she would always elaborate her replies. Even when her replies are absolutely eccentric. But that adds to her specialness! I love how involved and eccentric she is - I'm really impressed by these people because they are so OBVIOUSLY born to do what they do.

Alexa: Let's talk about music, while you're on tour, what do you listen to?
Gaga: (pausing to think) My fans.

That might come across so totally as a poser reply, but the beauty of it is that she absolutely means it! She later explains that while performing, her fans' enthusiasm and energy affect her so much that she has to start writing music even when she wasn't planning to.

(There were 3 fans who were invited onstage to receive a special gift and a hug from Lady Gaga, and they were so totally crying and overwhelmed by the opportunity. This is so amazing to witness.)

And on the opposite side of the scale, Rihanna comes across as completely approachable, facing Alexa and answering all her questions openly and even admitting that "everything I wear is uncomfortable except for my underwear".

Maybe quite a pointless post this, but it was really interesting to watch these personalities and how good Alexa Chung is at her job :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A little insight to my home

Last weekend, we woke up to the living room looking like this:

It seemed that Pim had very nicely left his tracks for us with 'pee paws'. You can even see where he slipped a little on that front mark. Sigh.

It's not like we're much better though. Last weekend I was also in a hurry and my style sense wasn't really kicking in properly, hence this:

To be honest, the chair looks worse now, only because Schrobbenmaster has participated in the theme. If I may say so, only his items are left on the Red Chair.

Anyway, I went out shopping on my own and guess what I found?

La Senza! NL never had La Senza before this (I think so at least) and I'm so happy I can now get nice, fun and pretty designs at a price I can afford (it's way too expensive in KL).

This is starting to become a "pic or it didn't happen" post.

I'm on a strict budget - well, I tell myself so, but just between you and me, I've actually been spending a lot. Hey, at least I refrained from buying those really nice-looking heels at Manfield.

Uh, where was I?

Yes, I wrote a shopping list down that I intended to stick to, and thin socks were one of them.

They're 'slouch' socks! They look really nice with ankle or slightly above ankle boots. They were originally € 8 each, but I got them for € 3 each instead. When I went to the counter, the cashier beeped the socks in and then told me, "This is a really good deal, mevrouw!" and I went, "Ja! Verrrry good!".

So proud of myself for this purchase. I love things on sale!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Koopavond in Dordrecht / Shopping and tapas dinner in Miró, Dordrecht

I wonder how you pronounce the ó in Miró, Spanish-style?

Last week, I felt the urge to do some shopping, so I asked CaroBrasilia if she wanted to shop on Friday evening, when Rotterdam has its koopavond (evening shopping). She already had a massage booked for that evening (lucky girl!) so she suggested Thursday in Dordrecht instead. She used to live there and knows the place pretty well. As I've never been, I said sure!

Dordrecht is only 20 minutes away by train, so it was easy. Except I boarded a train earlier (the signboard said it also went to Dordrecht) and then got paranoid and spent the whole ride trying to connect to the NS website and then gave up and went back to the NS app to double check the route of this train.

I did end up in Dordrecht safely *phew*, where CaroBrasilia picked me up by car and brought me into the city centre.

After lots of shopping and doing girly things in girly shops I never walked into before because I was always with Schrobbenmaster, it was time to have some nomnom.

Now this is one of the points in the day I hate the most - deciding what to eat! Especially in a strange city. It's not like KL, where there are cafes/restaurants/coffee shops/hawker stalls/mamaks everywhere and where everything is at least decently tasting and affordable. Over here, you have to check the menu if there's something you might like, then check the price range, then walk away and find another place which is more affordable. And if you feel like a certain cuisine, it might take you ages to find it, if you even do find it.

So I was quite relieved when after wandering and stumbling around for 10 minutes, we found a tapas restaurant called Miró, which looked quite artsy and authentic inside, and whose prices were of the normal kind.

I have to say one thing I feel pressured about in this country is that once you sit down, the waiters/waitresses expect you to know what you want to order for drinks. So I end up ordering ice tea or mochaccino (depending where I am), when I sometimes want to check the menu for something interesting (damn I shoulda ordered sangria). On the other hand, when I do pick the menu up and go through it, I realise that the only nice and affordable thing in it is the ice tea anyway.

Okay, so restaurants in NL are not bad when it comes to quality of food, but seriously... the number of choices of food and drink can really be improved.

The restaurant looks pretty unhappening from this angle because of where I was sitting. Behind me the tables were occupied, I swear. And by the time we left after dinner, the bar was filling up. I kind of would like this place to be in Rotterdam. A classier, more relaxed version of a restaurant/bar than I've seen here.

I really like the interior and how they've achieved the concept of portraying Miró's ceramicist/sculptor/painter character. I would really like to have been part of this restaurant's development :) Somehow, Spanish restaurants always seem to retain their warm and authentic character even when they've been clearly designed by designers.

All the service people in Dordrecht seem so nice! They were helpful in the shops, and here, the waitress offered to take a photo of us both when she saw us taking photos of each other.

But I hate how they still cheat you into ordering food that you never ordered. After ordering, they'll go, "And do you want bread with that?", and me, thinking that it's the normal bread they serve before meals, goes "Sure!", and you later find it on your bill, costing the same as the other tapas.

Long live Due Tonino, who serve the MOST AWESOME bread ever FOR FREE.

Schrobbenmaster mentioned later how much I smell of garlic. Hehe.

We ordered gambas (of course!), patatas bravas (of course!), some fish filet (on the right of the photo) and some chicken skewers because we didn't know what to choose for the fourth dish. Or should I say fifth, since the bread was actually (unknowingly) our first dish.

After dinner, CaroBrasilia drove around the old city centre and showed me the most awesome houses with high ceilings and incredibly awesome bookshelves. My iPhone decided to hang on me so I have no pictures, but trust me, Dordrecht is worth a visit at night, since you can look into people's amazing homes and look at the light reflecting on the water, making me feel like I was back in Venice.

I'm hungry now so I'm gonna make myself some early lunch.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

PHOTOS: Belated KL 2010 holiday (Ye Olde Smokehouse, Fraser's Hill and The Gardens)

Continuing my productive housekeeping Sunday - I already did the dishes, the laundry... and rolled up some wrapping paper nicely -  I hereby present some old pictures that were cluttering up my desktop to you.

When I was back for my first holiday in KL in 2010, Mumsy Bumsy, Yelleh Belleh and I went for a quick retreat to Fraser's Hill in Pahang. We stayed in Ye Olde Smokehouse and never set foot out of there except to go back to KL. It was so relaxing and cosy!

The long and lonely road to The Hills.

Okay, so we kinda got lost and took a more scenic route to The Hills. But this wasn't the reason we stopped at the police station...

This is why.

After going the whole distance and reaching the foot of the hill, we were greeted by this damn sign. And surprise, surprise... the police didn't know what to do about it. The police station is actually just on the left of this picture. So anyway, they told us that we could just go ahead, even though the paper there says "Road closed". Oh yeah, the orange sign says "Caution, fallen tree ahead" (for my non-Malay speaking readers).

So we went on...

... And halfway up, we encountered a semi-massive queue of cars which had to wait by the side of the road. We actually waited there 30 minutes before these trucks, which had been stuck behind the fallen tree, could go through. It's a very narrow road so we had to wait for the exiting traffic to pass before we could continue climbing.

But we finally arrived and checked in to a humongous room done up in old British style. Ah, the cosiness! Here's Yelleh Belleh, who seems to have found something amusing in the menu.

This is the little corner of the living room that we claimed for ourselves the whole evening. We just had tea and scones and talked and talked and talked.

Oh, how I miss scones and clotted cream! I would sacrifice my figure for scones and clotted cream.

Taking photos in our bedroom. Big four-poster bed near the door and a huge area to sit and read in two armchairs, a fairly large wardrobe with a round table with fruits and chairs, a writing desk/dressing table with a big mirror and on the left of the picture is another writing desk at two big windows and then the bathroom with nice little bottles of stuff.

We loved our room so much we had to take loads of pictures of it, of course.

And it's no accident that this armchair is in all the photos. I LOVE IT. It was so freaking comfortable! I could seriously read there all night.

 Hello, you.

Enough of Fraser's Hill. I also took my siblings for a day out at The Gardens, Mid Valley. They were so well-behaved, it was such a pleasure to take them out :)




Yelleh Belleh.

Scary-faced Arran.

They are very cute, hence the bombardment of photos of them drinking in a food court.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PHOTOS: Cinderella at Nieuwe Luxor Theater and Motel Mozaïque at Schouwburgplein - also Izkaya and Thurston

Here are them pictures... for the text-based story, read here.

First up is the ballet of Cinderella that we saw at Nieuwe Luxor. We paid € 60 (excluding admin fee) for these really good seats. Normal shows are around half the price though... I guess ballerinas cost more? I must say the set and costumes were really really good though.

This is at the end when they're bowing and all.

During intermission, we walked upstairs to look at the view over the city. We weren't disappointed. That's the Erasmus bridge ahead of us and the Rotterdam city centre across the water.

And while I was at class, Schrobbenmaster made ice lemon tea (brought over from Greece by a friend) and was a complete housewife doing chores at home. Thank you!

Pim has been such a nuisance lately. He's started peeing on the floor of our living room and hallway once a week. And sometimes on our bathroom mat. And the worst came about when he peed on Schrobbenmaster's laptop bag (with all his personal belongings and documents inside!). I don't know what's wrong with him. If anyone knows about cats behaving like this, don't hesitate to let me know!

That night, we went to play pool in the city for the first time, as I mentioned already in the last post. But first, we tried out this bar called Izkaya. It's unique in that the tables are used as projector screens for the menu and games you can play with your friends. The projects are installed directly above the tables and there's at trackpad built into the tables.

The only problem is that because the patterns on the table are so bright, the waiters can't see when the table is dirty. We ended up sitting at a horribly dirty table and had to change the pattern background to a light colour in order to prove what we were saying to the waiter.

Schrobbenmaster playing Battleship with Hanselem.

After that, we headed to Thurston, a pool place in the city, apparently founded in the 18th century or something. Maybe not the current premises, but the brand name. I'm not too sure about it.

Now back to Motel Mozaïque. I previously wrote about the coloured light cubes. Here is Schrobbenmaster building me a prison of cubes.

Apparently other photographers in the area found this sight interesting and were snapping photos as well. I wonder if I'll become infamous? Hehe.

Schrobbenmaster had a taste of his own architecture as well.

This is the little house thing where they were putting green hats on people and trying to feed them. Don't ask me, man.

The beauty of Spring: beautiful blue sky/sunset at 8pm and a nice skyline.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My week in photos - Cinderella at Nieuwe Luxor Theater, Motel Mozaïque Rotterdam

I had a pretty interesting week last week...

I've been working on my first ever book design at work. It's called De 5 Kindconclusies and it's about the 5 personality types of people based on 5 'child conclusions'. It's all in Dutch, but hopefully it will be so successful that it gets translated into English ;)

And hopefully it's so successful that my book cover and design becomes world-famous. Haha.

Anyway, last week I made a mock-up or dummy of the book for our acting editors in the office. It was pretty fun and nice to work with paper and my hands again. Kinda bored of doing websites all the time. Websites are so... intangible. Duh, right? But, yes, they are. Print is my baby.

I hereby copyright my book cover design. No derivatives or copycats allowed!

I think the book should be out somewhere in May or June. I can't wait!

Next, I went to watch Cinderella by Matthew Bourne (choreographer) at the Nieuwe Luxor Theater in Rotterdam. It's a ballet based on the Cinderella story set during World War II. Very interesting. I also had amazing seats. I love how I can afford to watch shows like this here when in Malaysia they'd be overpriced. Sure, it wasn't cheap here, but it's still manageable on a normal salary.

That's the net screen thing they place over the stage before the show starts. Schrobbenmaster has photos of the performers giving their exit bows but I'll put them up later as I don't have them with me yet.

The Nieuwe Luxor Theater is quite nice. What I like most about it is that you can take the underground metro (which is just 5 minutes walk from home), change lines once and you walk up literally to the doorstep of the theatre. Don't ask me why I find it cool, but I do. And from the upper floors of the theatre, you can look down to the metro entrance, which is basically just an arch and two escalators heading down. It's almost like someone just popped a hat on the ground, but you know that there's loads of things going on underneath. Yeah, it's hard to explain.

What I don't like about it is that it's on the other side of the bridge, which makes biking for me virtually impossible. I can't handle the bridge. Maybe after another year of living here I'll be fit enough for it.

One of the disappointments of the week was missing James Blake at Motel Mozaïque. Last month, I'd grabbed an Uit Agenda (magazine on happenings in the city) and seen that James Blake would be performing in Rotterdam. I like his music (check him out on Spotify) and felt that I should take this opportunity to watch such a unique up and coming artist.

Unfortunately I forgot all about it until Schrobbenmaster and I were one day biking back from Chinatown past Schouwburgplein, and we saw colourful lights and heard music playing. We stopped by the side, parked our bikes and walked around and realised we were actually in Motel Mozaïque's outdoor show.

It looked good!

It wasn't very busy when we were there (around 8pm) and there were only around 3 'attractions' like a soup kitchen (reuse everything and don't waste!) and a small housey thing with people trying to pull you in to wear green hats and eat snacks (don't ask me, man). Schrobbenmaster and I played with big cubes of colourful lights (pictures below and coming soon as well). And in the big church-looking makeshift building below was where the music performances were.

Later that night, I read someone tweeting that they had seen James Blake's performance at 22.30 :( Felt kinda disappointed, but it was my fault for not remembering! Anyway, the whole thing was rather wonderful and I really like Rotterdam for the ability to surprise me with arty events like these.

Last weekend was the awesomest though.

I had class on Saturday so I decided to wear something nice (yes, been browsing fashion blogs again and feeling inspired to make an effort). I wore my Maison Scotch white fitted collared shirt with a little blue handkerchief in the pocket with my blue pantalon leggings from Uniqlo. For some reason, the label of my Maison Scotch shirt was sewn upside down.

But anyway, I felt stylish enough to walk down Nieuwe Binnenweg and past Rotown and Stalles for coffee after with my Dutch teacher and a fellow classmate. I don't even know why I wanna look stylish for the people there, as they're so uppity and not very nice.

Both places were packed to the brim because it was a sunny day, but we saw a little bench free. This bench was connected to two long tables with about 7 women occupying it. My teacher went up to them to ask if we could just use the bench, but they just gave him a flat 'No' without even being polite (I could only see their faces, but they didn't look friendly at all). How arrogant!

We ended up further down the road at Coffee Company where we had a much nicer spot in the sun anyway, and away from the snooty noses and prying eyes of the middle-class wannabes.

And later at night, Schrobbenmaster and I went for drinks and played pool for the first time in Rotterdam with some friends. We ended the night at 'T Zwarte Schaap on Witte de Withstraat, which is fast becoming one of my favourite bars. It's not a bruincafe (old-fashioned brown Dutch pub) and it's not a Rotown. Everyone looks nice but sociable and the interior is modern yet small and cosy enough. If I had to compare it to somewhere in KL, I'd say it's like twentyone on Changkat, except less 'dressy sophisticated'. But still stylish enough!

On Sunday, it was another nice sunny day, so Schrobbenmaster headed to the beach with his friends, while I met Hanselem for drinks again at Coffee Company. We then moved to Bazar to have baklava.

It was my first time having baklava and I think I'll order it next time I go. It's kinda sweet but I like the pastry. That's the baklava with the white sugary beard above it. I couldn't resist having a chocolate truffle tart from Dudok.

Very nice afternoon discussing topics like underwear personality types and what colours are associated with what you wanna say about yourself :P I found a very informative website, but halfway through, I found out it was a website for gays. Well, they had the information I wanted anyway!

Am currently hooked onto the soundtrack of Sucker Punch. Look for it on Spotify as well ;)