IKEA Project 6: The Salmon cook-off

April 13, 2016 | Recipe, Singapore, Sponsored

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with IKEA, however all ideas, opinions, and thoughts are my own. 

Weee! Another surprise Ikea project! I was so excited to be contacted last week about taking part in another Cook-off challenge, this time featuring Ikea’s new range of  responsibly-sourced Salmon – yep, that’s right, they’re now selling sustainable seafood from certified fisheries and farms in their Swedish Food Market. Way to go!

I’ve opted to use salmon fillets for my recipe, and have chosen to feature it in one of our all time favourite family dinner recipes – Salmon Ramen. Seriously, we eat this at least once a week. It may not look like a high-end dish, but let me tell you, the flavour is fantastic!

Salmon Ramen

Here’s what you’ll need for 2 servings…

Ingredients

Ingredients:
– 2 x Ikea frozen salmon fillets (LAX FILE – found in The Swedish Food Market)
– 3 Tbs miso paste
– 3 Tbs soy sauce (we use low salt version)
– 2 Tbs sake
– 2 Tbs mirin
– 1 small sachet dashi stock (optional)
– Your choice of vegetables (e.g. wombok, cabbage, snow peas, beans, leek…)
– 2 eggs
– 1 brick of ramen noodles, broken in half (we use frozen)
– Optional: Seaweed and toasted sesame seeds for garnish.

Ingredients

Method:

1. Start by defrosting the salmon (they come individually sealed so I just cut 2 fillets off the package and put them (still sealed) in a bowl of water to defrost slowly). Once defrosted, cut open the bags and pat each fillet dry with paper towel. Heat a fry pan to medium-high and fry until cooked through and crisp on all sides. Set aside once done.

2. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the eggs. I normally time them for about 8 minutes to get a slightly runny yolk – this will vary though. Once they’re cooked, peel and slice in half. Season with salt and pepper if you like, set aside.

3. Chop all the vegetables into pieces and divide between two large ramen bowls. Put a half block of noodles into each bowl too. I like to portion the veg and noodles out before they’re cooked, but you could also cook them all together and divide between bowls once they’re cooked. Up to you :)

Step 2

4. In a bowl mix the miso paste, soy sauce, mirin and sake together. Bring 4 cups of water to the boil in a medium size saucepan and add in the dashi stock powder followed by the miso paste mix.

5. Take the first bowl of noodles/vegetables and place the noodles into the boiling miso pot. Cook for a few minutes (breaking up with a fork) before adding the vegetables. Once they’re cooked, scoop back out into the ramen bowl. Repeat with the second bowl. OR cook all the noodles first, followed by the veg, and divide between the two bowls once they’re done.

7. Carefully pour the hot soup over the veg in each bowl. Top with the salmon fillets, eggs, seaweed and toasted sesame seeds (optional).

8. Dig in!

Yum! Salmon Ramen. Yum! Salmon Ramen.

I’m not very graceful with hot slurpy noodles, but man they taste good!!

Yum! Salmon Ramen.

Hopefully you’ll give it a go! It really is yummy, and can be adapted quite easily to suit your tastes by changing up the vegetables.

Thanks so much to Ikea Singapore for including me in another fun challenge! Be sure to check out their range of sustainable seafood next time you’re in store!

The Commissioned

March 9, 2016 | Art, Personal, Singapore

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with The Commissioned, however all opinions and thoughts are my own. 

For the longest time I’ve been looking for the perfect piece of art for my bedroom, and despite keeping my eyes open for.. well, years, I hadn’t found exactly what I was looking for. So when the lovely folks at The Commissioned contacted me about putting their fantastic website to the test and commissioning my very own artwork, I was thrilled! Honestly, commissioning an artwork had never really crossed my mind – I think I presumed it would be hard to contact the artists, would be crazy expensive, and I wasn’t even sure where you’d start. So I was pretty excited about giving The Commissioned a go :)

The first step was to make an account, then go through the pages of artist profiles and find one (or more!) that I really liked and might want to work with. The artists are from all over the world, and the work is so varied – I had about a million tabs open trying to narrow my options! In the end, I fell in love with the work of Australian artist Jessica Watts and could go no further. I mean, hello gorgeous florals!

The next step, once I’d decided Jessica was “the one”, was to send her a message through the website, introducing myself and telling her a bit about what I was looking for. I must say, it was pretty cool to be talking directly with the artist! Jess was so lovely and we messaged back and forth a few times, sending pics of my apartment (for style and colour ideas), discussing where the artwork was going to go, and the feeling I wanted to convey. We also spoke about the size I was after and the price (which you can get an indication of on each artist’s profile page so there aren’t any surprises). I’d had a look through some of Jess’ previous works and found one I really loved the composition of, but wanted to lighten the colours – so that was a good starting point.

Then Jess went away for a couple of days, and came back with quick sketches for me, so I could get an idea of the composition and colours. Then, after a few little tweaks from my side, I picked option 3 and she got down to work.

Initial sketches from Jessica Watts

In the meantime, I’d decided that this was going to be the catalyst for a full bedroom makeover, so I ordered a new bed frame, refurbished some old bedside tables, and bought new lamps.. Exciting!

Over the next few weeks I got updates from Jess on the progress of the painting, and kept an eye on her Instagram account too, for the odd sneaky little behind-the-scene. It was such a great experience, seeing the painting come together as it was happening. It made it so much more special and exciting to see the work and love Jess was putting into it.

Working images along the way

Then, about 3 months after I first spoke with Jess, my painting was framed (yes it even came framed!) and, with some help from The Commissioned, was delivered right to my door – all the way from Australia. All I had to do was unwrap it and hang it. Couldn’t be simpler.

So here’s the finished piece! I’m absolutely thrilled with it, and Jess and The Commissioned were a dream to work with. Both went out of their way to make this go as easily and seamlessly as possible.

The finished painting!

Isn’t it gorgeous?! And now so you can see where this lovely lady ended up… here’s how my bedroom turned out.

My bedroom before After!

Isn’t it a massive improvement?! I’m actually a bit embarrassed to show you all the before pic, but it just goes to prove how much better it’s looking now.

So a big thank you to The Commissioned for giving me the chance to live out a dream and have a painting custom created just for me! And to my lovely artist Jess – thank you! We adore our new painting, and it was such a pleasure to get to work with you :)

Singapore Souvenirs

January 27, 2016 | Shop, Singapore

Super Mama

I’ve never really talked much about life as an expat (and I won’t really start now haha!), but having been one for nearly 8 years now I feel like I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to live back home in Australia. While we have no immediate plans to leave our adopted Singaporean life, inevitably we will end up making the trip back to Australia eventually, so I’m always on the look out for some uniquely Singapore souvenirs that I can take with me to remember my time here.

Finding these “souvenirs” can be a little tricky.. tacky trinkets and obvious tourist stuff is a definite no-go for me. I want well-designed, not-so-obvious, meaningful (to me) souvenirs. Things that offer a story or meaning below the surface. And even better if they’re usable and don’t just sit on a shelf. I know, I know.. I ask a lot of the things I buy!

SupermamaTop left: One Singapore porcelain plate, Top right:HDB plates and chopstick rest, Bottom left: Merlion fridge magnet, Bottom right: A Cup That Holds a Festival.

But – as you can see, they do exist! And boy are they fantastic. These are not your average souvenirs, there’s nothing tacky or garish here. Only beautifully designed pieces of Singapore, and I love it!

So, if you’re in the market for your own keepsakes from the Little Red Dot, look no further than Super Mama and The Little Dröm Store. I really can’t recommend them enough… whether you’re a tourist, an expat or a local!

Super MamaClockwise from top left: Jiu Ceng Gao Doorstop, Good Morning Mug, MRT & Bus Washi Tape, Chope! Keychain, Merlion Chouchou.

Little Drom StoreClockwise from top left: Katong Laksa Fridge Magnet, Kway Teow Fridge Magnet, Kopi Fridge Magnet, Chope! Fridge Magnet.

Top image: National Day Plate

So perfect, right?! By coincidence I came across this quote today that I thought was a pretty great way to describe what it feels like to be an expat at times. Not always, but sometimes :)

quote

Claire x

IKEA Project 4: Kitchen – Organising the Pantry!

September 28, 2015 | Personal, Singapore, Sponsored

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with IKEA, however all ideas, opinions, and thoughts are my own. 

I can’t believe this is the last of my IKEA collaborative posts! Big sad face. It’s been so fun, I don’t even know where the last 4 months have gone.

For this last challenge we were tasked with doing something fab in the kitchen. Yeaaahh kitchen! I love cooking. Well, I used to anyway, before I had a fussy toddler who throws my lovingly homemade meals on the floor, preferring a peanut butter sandwich over 8-hour slow cooked lamb tagine. Phht.. whatevs, his loss.

Instead of cooking for this challenge though, I decided to attack a problem area in our kitchen – the pantry. Uhh, the pantry. In my head, the perfect pantry is a gorgeous walk-in number, with plenty of shelves to hold rows of jars with little labels and scoops… like these:

dream pantryLeft: Emerson’s Pantry via Apartment Therapy  Right: NEAT Method pantry via Arianna Belle

Ahhhhh, perfection.

Back in reality though, our pantry is just a large cupboard in our kitchen, with 4 very deep shelves. Don’t get me wrong – I’m in no way complaining.. our last apartment didn’t even have a ‘pantry’, just a few small cupboards we’d deemed good for food storage. So the one we have now is actually pretty amazing.

Exceeeppptt.. we had no order. It was madness! Just look at this embarrassment… try not to shudder.

Pantry disgrace

Finding anything took a lot of time, and we would buy double-ups of things because we didn’t realise we had them in the first place.

Pantry disgrace Pantry disgrace

Uhh, look away! Needless to say this pantry needed a makeover like, yesterday.

So off to Ikea I went. And I bought about 50 (not kidding) of their 365+ food containers in all 3 sizes. And I got some very strange looks. And Arlo was super embarrassed by all my containers and got angry and loud. But I was excited because I was going to have an organised pantry!

I particularly liked the 365+ containers because they have a flip lid on one end, making it easy to pour the contents out without opening the whole lid. Win!

Then when I got home, I unpacked the pantry and repacked it into my wonderful new containers, labelled them all and stacked them back into the shelves in all their organised glory. I’m glossing over this part because it actually took a while and was a bit messy, especially with a toddler thrown into the mix. But we got there, and it was absolutely worth it!

Bask, in my pantry…

Pantry perfection

And side-by-side:

Before and After

Perfection! And, no surprises – it’s SO MUCH EASIER to find things now!

Pantry perfection

The bread-making box.

Pantry perfection

High-use foods.. rice, cous cous, quinoa…

Pantry perfection

And on the top shelf I even managed to get some baking ingredients in that were previously stored elsewhere!

It’s still not like those spectacular Pinterest pantries I started the post with, but it’s the greatest pantry I’ve ever had – and I love it. I’ve found that when I organise things around me, in our house, I feel a bit like I’m organising my brain.. I feel better, lighter, clearer. Less highly strung. And it was the same with the pantry, it’s a happy place now :)

So a huge thank you to Ikea for making my life easier in the kitchen – and the rest of our house for that matter. We’re big fans over here, and I feel so lucky to have been able to work with them on this series. Thank you!

IKEA Project 3: Dining Room – DIY Painted bowls

August 24, 2015 | DIY, Singapore, Sponsored

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with IKEA, however all ideas, opinions, and thoughts are my own. 

I can’t believe we’re already at the 3rd challenge! I’m just loving these tasks so much -It’s really fun to take a critical look at certain areas of my home and think about how they could work better, or what small things I could do to update the look.

For the last two Ikea tasks, I’ve done more of a space makeover (see those here and here). For this challenge though (dining room!) I wanted to focus on something a bit more specific, something we use in our dining room every day. So, instead of a room makeover, I’ve done a bowl makeover!

DIY painted bowls

I’ve been wanting to get some simple white bowls for a while now, and when I saw the IKEA 365+ bowls I thought they were perfect. Simple, classic, and – S$3.50! Can’t go wrong, seriously. Well, until I decided to get all crafty and freehand paint on them in the pursuit of cute custom ceramics… there was some serious room for error there.

I decided to face my fear of ruining these poor bowls though, and I’m thrilled that I did! I love how they turned out. It wasn’t too hard either, in fact I found that even if my lines and patterns weren’t perfect, it didn’t matter – it still looked good as a whole. PHEW.

And you can do it too! Here’s what you’ll need to make your own DIY painted bowls:
– Light coloured ceramic pieces of your choice (could be mugs, bowls, plates etc.)
– Porcelain paint pens* (or pots) in colours of your choice
– Some paper towels or an old piece of card to blot the pen on

*I used Marabu Porcelain Painter Pens (in dark blue 293) available at Art Friend for anyone following in Singapore. In future though I’d probably try and find pots of porcelain paint and use a very fine paintbrush as I found the pens a bit streaky and unreliable.

IO6A0523

Step 1.
First things first – the paint should not be applied to any surface that you plan to put food on. Best to keep it on the outside.

You’ll need to make sure your ceramic pieces are clean and dry. Then, have a read of the instructions on your paints and doing a small test of the bottom of one of your pieces. I bought 3 colours but ended up not loving the green or pink, so good to do a test!

DIY Painted Bowls

Step 2. 
I started by drawing a few rough sketches to get a feel for the patterns I might want on my bowls. Better to go in with a bit of a plan I reckon! Once you’re happy with your ideas, you’re ready to start painting! Or you can wing it, that’d work too :)

The paint dries fairly quickly, but can be wiped or scratched off if you notice a mistake soon after it’s been made.

Note: I discovered that the more detailed the pattern you create the better. When it’s really detailed, you tend to only see the overall pattern, and not the place where the pen started running out, or your flower wasn’t quite perfect. Larger drawings will require more accuracy. Also – thicker, thinner, lighter, and darker lines might seem like a mistake, but actually overall it just gives it a nice painterly feel! So don’t stress if it’s not perfect :)

DIY Painted Bowls

Step 3.
What you do next will depend on your paints – once they were finished, mine had to air dry for a few hours and then be oven baked.

That’s it! Now they’re ready to be used, and are even dishwasher safe. Brilliant!

DIY Painted Bowls IO6A0540 DIY Painted BowlsDon’t they look nice set up for breakfast? I can totally see a big mound of ice cream sitting pretty in these bowls too (though I’ll take ice cream in any bowl really!).

For some more beautiful ceramic painting tutorials (seriously, they’re gorgeous!) have a look at Delia Creates and Funnelcloud.

I hope you’ll give ceramic painting a go too! Be brave! :) x