Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cafe Bisqui, Melbourne

During one of my days off, I followed hubby to the city, and while he went off to complete a day of hard work, I lazed and idled around the city. 8am was too early for any of the retailers to be open, so I decided to hop into a random café to chill until it was time to hit the shops.

I came across Cafe Bisqui, a serene-looking café that looked quite empty but still warm and inviting, the way I liked it. Upon entering, I was greeted by a lovely staff member who told me to take a seat anywhere I wanted. As I walked past, I caught a glimpse of delicious-looking homemade treats such as cakes and cookies on display.

Given it was such a beautiful morning, there was no reason not to indulge in my favourite breakfast drink. A smidge of honey was all it took to enhance the aromatic flavour of the chai. 

I also thought I'd play it healthy by ordering some bircher muesli for breakfast. It was a generous blend of muesli, cubed Granny Smith apples, strawberries and yoghurt drizzled with honey served with a mini-jug of milk. It was a great feeling eating something 'clean' for breakfast. 

I can't say the food is amazing because I have hardly tried anything (or to be exact, nothing that requires any cooking) but I really loved the atmosphere there that morning. I was just having spoonfuls of my muesli and taking sips from my chai while I watched the world go by. I doodled in my notebook, watched people rushing in and out to takeaway coffees, while I just sat back and relaxed. The friendliness of the staff members and the calmness of the whole place really added to the experience. 

This was the second place I had dined alone but the first time I truly enjoyed it. I hope I get the chance to come back, enjoy the same quietness and maybe sample some of their hot breakfasts. 

Cafe Bisqui on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What I Did With 10 Days

As I am typing this, I am savouring my last few hours of leave. One particular week in October, I was feeling particularly worn out from work, and that was when I decided to take ten days off in December. I had no plans to go overseas, and no one close to me had time off either, I just felt like I really needed a break.

I was really determined to make the most out of it. I wrote lists and schedules, and even though people might think, "Why are you planning out your day while you're on holiday? You're supposed to do whatever you want, whenever you want!", I am so glad I did. I have already wasted so many days waking up late, then being overwhelmed with all the things I wanted to do and ending up doing nothing at all. This time I made sure that didn't happen!

Here are some things I am so happy to have done or discovered in this last 10 days:

#1: Ran 5km without stopping

One day, I was wondering around my neighbourhood (the joy of having so much time on your hands) and I discovered this green, leafy trail with people cycling, jogging and walking their dogs. It was so beautiful I walked the whole track, and then when hubby got home, I told him I wanted to go for a run on the very same track. We went around and got a little lost in between, but I managed to run 5km (5.27km to be exact!) without stopping. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've gone for a run with hubby, only to quit halfway and walk home first, or have him overtake me by a lap or two. He was very proud of me, and I was very proud of myself too! So this is what it feels like to work towards a long term goal. Can't wait to do it again!

#2: Got a fringe and perm

Something in me has always longed for change, be it image, attitude, or life, in general, but I'm usually too chicken to do anything. This time I decided I was going to change my whole look by getting my hair done. I have never permed or dyed my hair before, in fact, I think I've always had the same hairstyle since I was 13. So I booked an appointment, showed them a picture of Chloe Bennet as Skye in Agents Of Shield Season 2 and took the plunge. I love, love my new hair! Somehow, it's making me feel more refreshed and confident.

#3: Discovered the joy of dining alone

I've always shopped alone, but never eaten at a café or restaurant alone. I have to admit, the first time I did it (at Mr. Pilgrim) I felt quite nervous. I was a little embarrassed, "What would people think of me?" but then I realised it didn't matter. The experience was quite liberating. Of course I enjoy other people's company when I am eating, but this was a different type of experience altogether. I ate a light meal and sipped on some chai with sometimes a novel or a notebook in my other hand. I felt like I had so much room to think!

#4: Discovered more of Melbourne city

I admit, I've always been a suburb kind of girl. I used to avoid going to the city because I thought it was so crowded and messy. But this time, I decided to explore the city that I have been living in for almost a decade, as it is the world's most liveable city after all. From gardens to independent bookstores to quirky shops to historical buildings, I found myself falling in love with the city more and more.

#5: Went crazy with shopping

Not crazy, crazy, but definitely not as inhibited as usual. Is it just me or are the pre-Christmas sales better than Boxing day sales? I got lovely dresses, tops and skirts from DFO, several books from random bookstores, things for the home from craft markets and retail shops, and a few other nerdy items that I will share once I receive them in the mail! I did less damage than expected but still, no more shopping for me until after Christmas!

#6: Felt inspired

Having the time to think about things I really cared about and what I wanted to achieve, without the stress of work (it took a few nights for me to stop dreaming about work) really made me feel inspired. I am now more motivated to be more productive and more creative, and most importantly, happier. I have started working on something which requires a lot of hard work and patience, but each step I have taken excites me and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.

I feel like I've learnt many important lessons in this short holiday. There is always more knowledge for you to learn. 'I don't have time' is not a valid excuse. You don't have to be extravagant, fly to exotic places, stay in luxurious hotels, or eat at fancy restaurants to have a great holiday. You can find happiness and beauty everywhere, you just have to look. If you feel like you're stuck in a rut, do something about it, change doesn't happen without effort.

Life's good.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mon Ami, Fitzroy

After spending a good 3 hours or so at the Big Design Market, we left with beautiful goods, lighter wallets and hungry tummies. At first, we were planning to have lunch at a Korean restaurant further up on Nicholson Street, but we were so hungry we stopped at Mon Ami, Fitzroy, a French restaurant with Scandinavian influences, which was on the way.

Although I was feeling a little hungry, I didn't want anything too heavy. We decided to choose a dish from the petit range.

At that point, nothing sounded more appetising to me than the kingfish ceviche. Topped with caviar, a drizzle of lemon, pepper and sauce gribiche, every slice of kingfish was a delightful mouthful. Both the presentation and flavours of the fish were fresh and elegant. Unfortunately, the dish was quite small so I found myself slowing down towards the end and taking the time to savour each slice. That's what good food should be like, in adequate amounts, always leaving you wanting more. 

Quyen had the gnocchi, and I can't remember the exact details but I know there was cream, onion and the fancy Gruyere cheese. Needless to say, she loved her dish as well.

We both agreed that we absolutely had to come back for dinner, or at least a more substantial meal in the future. What a gem! We sat in their lovely outdoor area, pampered with food of such fine quality. We couldn't ask for more!

Mon Ami on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 13, 2014

DIY Maxi Skirt With Side Splits

Nowadays, when it comes to shopping, all I talk about is maxis, skirts and dresses alike. I've been on the hunt for several months now, and even though I'm so obsessed with them, I don't actually own many. That doesn't come as a surprise as it's always hard to find bottoms with the right length for my height.

I got this blue printed cotton lawn from Spotlight when it was on sale. It's a lightweight, breezy fabric that doesn't wrinkle too much at all after being washed and dried. Since it had been sitting in the stash for a fairly long time, I decided to turn it into a maxi skirt.

I know maxi skirt tutorials have been done to death, but it's always good to have another explanation, right?


Lightweight cotton fabric
Matching thread
1" wide elastic

What to do:

1. Cut two pieces of fabric with the following dimensions:
  • A (Width): Enough to drape across hip to hip at least 1.5 times, or hip circumference x 0.75 (add about 2 inches to allow for hemming and seam allowance)
  • B (Length): Distance between natural waist and just below ankles (add about 3 inches to allow for hemming and elastic casing)
2. Hem both long edges and one short edge on both pieces of fabric. Iron after hemming. 

3. Place the two pieces of fabric right sides together. Sew along both long edges, curving out at the points where you want the splits to start. Press both seams flat. 

4. For the elastic casing, fold down slightly more than 1" of fabric from the top. Iron, and repeat.

5. Sew all around the fold, leaving a small gap. 

6. Using a safety pin, thread the elastic through the gap in the casing. When it comes out from the other end, stitch both ends of the elastic together.

7. Sew the gap shut. 

8. Divide the gathers evenly and then stitch in the ditch in along both side seams, securing the elastic into place.

9. Turn the skirt right side out.

I like the side split detail because the skirt feels more airy and is also easier to walk in. Don't you just love maxi skirts that stop right where you want it? (As opposed to sweeping the floor..) Have fun guys!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fordham's Milk Bar, Camberwell

Before Quyen and I headed to the city for the Big Design Market on the weekend, we stopped by Fordham's Milk Bar in Camberwell for some breakfast. As the name suggests, it is a milk bar turned café located on Fordham Avenue, just minutes walk from Hartwell Station.
Chai, chai, chai. (Look, someone's obsessed!)

My tummy decided it needed something light that morning, so I opted for the vegetarian option - smashed avocado, feta, rocket and poached eggs on toast. As expected, the flavours were really light and refreshing, and the toppings were so generous I could slather plenty onto each bite of toast. 

Quyen ordered the big breakfast, which came complete with toast, eggs, spinach, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and sausages. It was so huge she couldn't actually finish it! From what I gather she did like most of it, except for the mushrooms which she wasn't too fond of.

All in all, it's a promising café that definitely sits above average. I'm not completely in love with it yet, because I feel like I need to try a few more of their dishes to really come to a conclusion. It's looking great so far, but I'm still looking for something to stand out!

Fordham's Milk Bar on Urbanspoon