April 23, 2010 § 2 Comments
So online shopping isn’t something you’d want to do very much in Switzerland. (The VAT fees are crazy, don’t get me started.)
But while Crumpler Europe doesn’t have shops in Switzerland, they do have a distributor here. Which means yay, I can buy Crumpler Europe bags.
But after many temptations, I’ve still not purchased one for myself.
HOWEVER, I have made my first Crumpler Europe purchase for a friend of Jason’s back in Singapore. And the bags arrived today in full, yummy, Crumpler glory.
I bought him the wrong color by accident. He wanted Charcoal. I hope he’ll be fine with this which is actually about 10 times prettier but he wanted a plain design. But it’s so gorgeously designed and the strap is so much softer than the Crumpler we have in Singapore, which means it won’t cause as much friction against your clothes and ruin them faster. And also the strip has a lovely padding. And gosh the design is so much prettier and subtle.
And in case you’re wondering what’s so special about this bag. It’s a CAMERA BAG. Yes. It’s not your regular-joe Crumpler. That baby is padded for your camera body and two extra lenses at least.
Now you know why I’m fluffing over it.
The other bag he wanted, it’s one of those limited edition Crumplers. Lots of compartments! And of course meant for a 15″ Mac in it’s full glory AND still has space for loads of other stuff without looking too chunky.
Okay this was just an entry to fluff about the Crumplers (that are not mine).
I would have been so totally tempted by the camera range if not for the fact that I largely just carry my camera around in normal bags these days.
My Kata looks shamefully fugly next to these Crumpler beauties.
Though actually I have managed to acquire for myself a new bag too since I’ve got here. (We’ve been shopping a LOT this month.)
Okay. Back to doing powerpoint slides for our presentation next week. We have school every day next week! (Payback for not having any school this week)
April 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Latest piece. Click for larger view on DeviantArt.
Been working on it on and off for the past couple of weeks, but we went to Italy and had a crazy project to rush the week before so I’d only just had time to finish it.
Pretty much experimenting with different vector styles now, as you can tell from the varied body of work I’ve been posting.
Still trying to define my own style I guess. Most of my typography in the past couple of years has developed a characteristic style but it’s time to bring my work to a new level..
April 19, 2010 § 1 Comment
So we missed our flight to Madrid on Saturday because of the epic volcanic ash situation here in Europe.
It’s not as major news back home I know, save for the stranded passengers in Changi and fully booked hotels. But here in Europe virtually every airport is closed and seems set to stay that way till Monday morning at the very least. It’s not visibly crazy here in little Lugano or anything, but the news network coverage in this region definitely gives it more airtime than its probably receiving back in Singapore.
STILL. It meant we didn’t fly into Madrid, and therefore had to cancel all our connections and accommodations for Madrid and Barcelona. Hopefully all the money we already put down will be refunded.
We had actually been monitoring the situation on Friday when all the airports started closing down one by one. At that time Milan Malpensa (MXP) (where we were flying from) had indicated that the airport would be closed till 2pm on Saturday. Our flight was at 7ish, so we were still safe. Got to commend Malpensa and Easyjet for having very good, up-to-date tracking systems for checking flight statuses. (Crisis management!)
Woke up on Saturday and was about to leave for Milan some time past noon when MXP officially announced the continued closure of the airport and Easyjet promptly updated that our flight was most affirmatively cancelled.
SO. We had to find something else to do for the weekend. Fortunately for us we have a great floormate/neighbour who can acquire any movie you could possibly desire in less than a minute. (He has a premium megaupload account.)
We spent our Saturday watching Star Trek 8, and part of Star Trek 4. And the first episode of The Pacific which I FNALLY got to watch and zomg I hearts many. THIS is the kind of production I would absolutely adore having the opportunity to work on.
Vita Humpa from Czech Republic. Don’t be fooled by the harmless nerdy image portrayed here. He’s only wearing specs to watch the movie. The rest of the time he’s a walking, beer guzzling ball of wit and dry humour who is great fun to have around. Hehe.
So that was our Saturday. Grabbed some extra ingredients for a second round of devilishly awesome oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies to make myself feel better and baked them after church today while we watched Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel.
My gosh, it’s one of those films that probably deserves a cult following at some point in time. It’s British humour and really one of those daft, irreverent things sort of like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that you’ll either love or hate.
But this entry isn’t about the film but the amazing cookies, so I decided to shoot the baking process more thoroughly today since I had the luxury of time. Measurements here are done by guessing mostly because of the lack of proper baking equipment. And yes I had to cream the wet ingredients with a fork by HAND because we obviously don’t have a stand/handheld mixer here.
Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
From Baking, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg (optional, didn’t use it as I didn’t have it)
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (‘defrosted’ it in the microwave for a bit)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks (chopped up 2 100g bars of milk chocolate and 1 bar of dark chocolate)
Getting Ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Ingredients! Salt, white sugar, brown sugar, expensive peanut butter that doesn’t seem too big here in Switzerland, three bars of Migros chocolate (2 milk, 1 dark), eggs, muesli (the recipe calls for rolled oats, but I just sifted out the raisin and fruit bits so they wouldn’t interfere with the taste), weird little packets of baking soda and vanilla essence. Vanilla essence is disgustingly expensive here. That one little sachet cost me 90 rappen (90 swiss cents). AND obviously it’s only 1 teaspoon’s worth.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. (Did this completely with a very tired hand holding a fork, sista!)
If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours or for up to one day. (Chilling the dough will give you more evenly shaped cookies.) If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your palms and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.
So yes that was my Sunday. And here’s an extra picture of Vita and Marco having lunch.
(As you can tell for all of us, every day’s a pasta day. One day I’ll dedicate an entire entry to pasta. One day.)
So well. No Spain, but still a pretty interesting weekend here in USIHome.. No school this week so I’m going to go find stuff to do like draw or design and keep looking out for internships or something.
April 14, 2010 § 2 Comments
Shall I make an attempt to squeeze 8 days of an italian holiday into a single entry?
Yes, I shall.
So us Lugano folk met up with Eldon and Janie (studying in Hatfield, UK) and Walter (Sweden) and did a crazy whirlwind tour of Milan, Venice, Verona, Florence & Pisa in eight days.
The holiday cost me about 450 euros. I budgeted 400 euros, which I wouldn’t have exceeded but I spent about 70 euros shopping. More than 200 euros went to transport and accommodation. The rest was food and entrance tickets and such. Italy is an amazingly tourist-ed place. You have to pay to get into anywhere. And I was faced with so many tourists over the past one week that I’m not even sure how many people I saw were actually Italian.
Each Italian city had it’s own unique flavour and architecture. Every where we went it felt a little different. (Prices and quality of food too.) These are my general impressions of each city.
Milan: Wet and cold when we got there. Couldn’t walk around without getting harassed by street hustlers. Four girls who looked about 12 tried to pickpocket me on the train. Generally couldn’t move without feeling on my guard all the time and not the most pleasant first impression or experience of Italy. Furthermore we were there on Easter Sunday and all the shops were closed. Will have chances to head back again so I’m sure I’ll find something better to say the next time I’m back.
Not many pictures from Milan because it was cold and wet and the pictures all turned out shitty.
Venice: Walking around the entire island was like being in Chinatown on Chinese New Year’s eve. We even joked that the island was probably sinking because there were simply too many tourists. A pretty place that everyone has to visit at least once in their lives even if you have to fight for elbow space with about a hundred thousand other people. Whoever built Venice never heard of urban planning. Navigating the streets was like moving through a labyrinth. You almost never go down the same street twice, unless by accident. Fun place to get lost in. Obviously a lot more pictures from Venice because it deserves it.
Verona: Amazed that there is actually tourism here because of 1) a rather unimpressive roman amphitheater, 2) Juliet’s house, Romeo’s house, and Juliet’s grave. Tourism at work I tell you. These characters don’t even exist. But yes we did go up Juliet’s underwhelming balcony and marveled at why Verona has tourists.
Roman amphitheater. Heavily under repair/construction/whatever. But they were still charging people 6.5 euros to enter, unbelievable. We bought the Verona Day pass for 10 euro so we could go to all the touristy places at a cheaper price and take the city buses for free.
Florence: Lovely, lovely city rich and abundant in culture. Food was more expensive here. But I managed a spot of shopping. Visited the 3 David statues and appreciated some lovely early European art. I like Florence more than Milan because at least I don’t feel like I have to guard my bag with my life all the time and that someone was going to try and aggressively con me of my money in a heartbeat.
Pisa: First impression was ‘cui’. And that it was dead boring. There’s the leaning tower. Small, unimpressive and underwhelming. But we still did the tourist thing and took lots of pictures. There’s an old town with a bazaar and lots of shops, but we didn’t spend much time there before taking our 8 hour trip back to Lugano. (More on the experience of traveling in Italy below.)
Food in Europe is generally expensive but we’re getting used to it. After all we pay out of our noses for everything in Switzerland. Every day was gelato day. Almost, at least. Italian gelato is heavenly. If you don’t go for the rip off ones (some of ours were). The best were the ones on Venice and the last gelato we had in Pisa. 2 to 3 scoops of amazing Italian ice-cream every day makes the world a better place.
The other cheap food option were the kebabs for around 3.5 to 4 euros. These were always hearty and satisfying (and most importantly had CHILI). Can’t say much for Italian pasta because I’m sick of pasta (I eat that stuff every day in Switzerland) and never really liked pasta anyway. The only pasta I had was squid ink pasta in Venice and it just tasted like the one from Waraku.
The pizzas I had were just ‘okay’. Nothing that screamed wow. Need to find out where the places are. We’re always in the touristy areas and no matter what I buy (food, icecream, clothes, etc) I feel like I’m being ripped off at least a little (it’s just the degree of rip-off-ness).
Sandwiches were nice, if not a little pricey too. 2.5 to 4.5 euros. Yes budget traveler I am. The rest of the money goes into shopping. I shall gush about how much I love European fashion later on.
Below: Other more expensive yummies in Venice we didn’t buy.
Okay. It’s rather bad to put it this way, but crossing the border from Switzerland to Italy really feels like I’m taking a train from Singapore to Malaysia. Being in Switzerland has spoilt us rotten. The comfort of Swiss trains are indubitable. We rode on a variety of Italian trains. Some were alright. But our final one back to Milan was a bit of an experience. It was a six seater carriage but we were sharing it with 2 huge Italians and their dogs and another guy. And also a father and son who were occupying our seats before we arrived and tried to claim that the seats were his. Had to spent the latter part of the journey having the kid glaring eyeballs at me for having ‘chased’ him and his dad out of the carriage. And oh, smelling like dog and having fur all over my clothes of course.
Fortunately the couple didn’t ride all the way to Milan and got off at Bologna. If not I’ll probably never get the smell of wet dog out of my belongings.
Generally the Italian transport system isn’t very much different from what we’re used to in Switzerland, it’s pretty easy to understand and find your train. It’s just the trains themselves and the people whom you would potentially meet on board that are a little… different.
I congratulate myself after 21 years of existence as a Singaporean for finally understand how IMPORTANT it is to dress according to the season’s fashion after going to Italy. Italy right now has become far warmer, it was about 20 to 21 degrees in all the cities we visited, warm enough to wander around in shorts and tank tops if you so chose. And all the winter clothes have been shed and everyone’s decked out for Spring. Not dressing accordingly in Italy really makes you stick out like a sore thumb!
I wonder how it’ll be in Spain. Spanish people take great pride in their fashion too. (We’ll be heading there this Sunday for 5 days of culture and shopping!) But I really, really, really love European fashion. Gosh the clothes and styles and colors are just absolutely LOVELY. Hence yes, 70 euros spent in Italy on clothes. Just a bit of H&M, Zara and Tezenis. I’m not a big fashion spender or a brand whore. But I do love a good bargain and unique designs.
Can’t wait to shop in Spain. Hope I can find a cheap new pair of Camper (which are, I must say, my favourite snugly comfortable brand of walking shoes). And a new bag.
No pictures of the new clothes.
Okay but here’s one of my new scarf which I got from one of the many street vendors in Florence. Everyone there was wearing such pretty scarves and I couldn’t resist it any longer. 9 euros! A little on the pricey side but I really liked the design.
(And the grey tshirt is a new Zara basic.) Strangely I’ve been buying a lot of GREY since I came to Europe. Which is funny because in Singapore I never buy anything grey and think I look absolutely horrid in grey. (I still look bad in blue and orange though, that hasn’t changed.)
But I’m so happy shopping here because they have ALL the types and shades of colors in the earth range and the bright range that I like and look good in.
Okay I’ll stop gushing. Will probably have more to gush about after shopping in Spain. But in the meantime I’ll just leave you with pictures of us enjoying ourselves.
Till Spain! Or when something more interesting comes up.
April 1, 2010 § 3 Comments
So generally we don’t do very much in Lugano. But the internet in our hostel died over the weekend so some of us actually ended up going out (WOW!).
Visited the quiet town of Mendriso and didn’t do much, then took the Funicular (the little tram services that take go up the hills/mountains here) up San Salvatore (one of the little mountains in Lugano, only over 1000m above sea level).
Then sometime a couple of days ago I baked my favourite Dorie Greenspan Oatmeal Chocolate Peanut Butter Chipsters, yes the one I always bake in Singapore.
And even had time to design a little and play with vectors.
So overall it’s been a fruitful few days.
They ended up spreading out a lot more than usual. Might be because of the baking soda. They sell them in strange little packets here and I didn’t have proper measuring equipment so a lot of it was guesstimation. BUT they still tasted AS awesome even with the cheapest possible Swiss chocolate.
Funicular queue for San Salvatore. It was this long because it was the 120th anniversary of the Funicular I think, so it only cost 4CHF to go up (I think it’s normally about 20CHF)! Long queue and the funicular comes every 30 minutes but it was worth every bit of the 4CHF.
View of the surrounding landscape and Lake Lugano from the top of San Salvatore. These are some of the smallest heights in Switzerland, mostly around 1000m. Mount Pilatus that we went up in Luzern is more than 2000m above sea level. And Jungfrau, the highest point in Europe is about 3000m. Will be heading there with Sis when she comes up!
Yep, so that’s my fruitful, internet-less weekend for you. Working on designing though as usual many doubts plague my mind. Generally know where I want to go but am not sure how to go about getting there except just practicing now. But it’s not easy without a mentor and having to feel my way about on my own.
Will be going for the European Design Conference in May though! The 3 day conference tickets cost 168 euros (and this is AFTER student price + early bird discount mind you!), which Paypal kindly informed me was SGD$324 (faints). Things look so much cheaper in euros. But I’m writing this off as an investment and a good chance to go to Amsterdam (the conference is in nearby Rotterdam), one of the stronger places in Europe for design.
The designer dream feels so far away right now, but I’ll get there some day…
P.S. For those who have noticed (probably no one), my portfolio is up and clickable on the sidebar… (Yes I finally went and bought lizzaeh.com) My goal? To improve so much till I can replace as many of the existing pieces there by the end of the year.