Saturday, June 30, 2007

I Heart Love Lard

My family and I were sitting around the dinner table and debating what animal we would choose to eat forever if we had to pick one. The Dolphin chose lamb. My dad picked chicken (I think). But my mother and I, we picked the wonderous PIG. we love a good oinker. You could eat pig for a year and never repeat a dish. Stephane Reynaud has dedicated an entire tome to this bountiful creature.

And one of my favourite pig products is....CHU YAU CHAR, or pork fat rendered till it's crispy. OMG it's soooo decadently unhealthy and if my mum's around, I have to ask for it in a whisper and quickly camouflage it with my noodles otherwise I get a real earful.

Look, I believe in being good 85% of the time, and saving the other 15% for things like whipped cream on your Frappuccino. And french fries. And extra butter and clotted cream on your scones. And a good british banger (or four). ......and crispy pork fat!

Pork lard is a global heritage. Delicious Days has a yummy german recipe, the Filipinos have their chicharon, the British have their pork scratchings. It's a veritable offering for world peace!

Mmmmm.... Top Five Favourite Things to eat Chu Yau Char with:
Malaysian Hokkien Mee
Hong Kong Street Milky Fish Soup
Bak Chor Mee, or pork noodles
Wonton Mee
On it's own when mum's not looking

And guess what, Beyonce totally agrees!!!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Drama Continues...

In the space of a week, two great locations have opened up and an angel in disguise has miraculously appeared.

Which location will I take?? Will I accept the angel's generous proposal? Stay tuned for the next episode of The Amazing Technicolour Start Up!

Thanks for sending the Dramatic Chipmunk link, Carol xxx

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I've been spending so much time in the car this past few weeks looking for property. The Dolphin, who is almost as obsessive as I am, has been playing the same cd over & over - DJ Mitsu the Beats' Extra Feeding 2.

I want to remember this challenging time and since music is the only way I know how to time travel, I'm posting my favourite tracks from the mix cd here. Enjoy :)

The Look of Love Pt.1 (J-88), Jazz Set Pt.1 (DJ Mitsu the Beats), Worsse Way (Tableek)

PS: It's official. I am the worst backseat driver in the world, if not the universe. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Vocabulary Lessons

My most excellent friend joke-forwarder, Harmony, recently sent a list of new words for 2007. Here are my faves:

Waving your arms around and talking bollocks.

Sitting round in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

The process by which people seem to absorb success and advancement by sucking up to the boss rather than working hard.

An office filled with cubicles.

Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids or start a "home business".

Single working girls. Single income, no boyfriend and desperate.

The rarefied organisational layers beginning just above the rank and file.
Decisions that fall from the "adminisphere" are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
This is often affiliated with the dreaded "administrivia" - needless paperwork and processes.

* 404
Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message "404 Not Found" meaning that the requested document could not be located.

That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just Made a BIG mistake (e.g. you've hit 'reply all').

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Popo on the left, with her sister Tai Yi Po

We were at dinner tonight and were sitting round having a post-prandial chat when we heard a crash and saw my Popo tipping over backwards and falling to the floor. The frickin chair had broken under her.

Scariest. Moment. Ever.

Luckily she wasn't hurt but my heart literally stopped.

My darling friend Jess sent me one of those chain emails the other day. You had to answer a bunch of questions about yourself and forward the answers along to your entire inbox and cross your fingers no-one would get a digital restraining order against you.

Anyway, one of the questions was "what are you most afraid of?" I answered: Getting tortured by being poked in the eyeballs. Mediocrity. Losing my mind. Not being good enough. Not being able to realize my dreams.

But I take those answers back, my Numero Uno Fear of all time is losing a loved one for eternity, my Popo especially. It's beyond my control, and inevitable but....I can't even bear to think about it. It's like a dark, pulsating blob at the back of mind. I know it's there, but I dare not acknowledge its existence.

My stomach is churning even writing about it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


As in, what the hell am I looking for?

I spend an inordinate amount of time hopping from site to site, on random quests for information...entire days go by before I remember my original mission.

And today, I discover there's an actual word for it! Yay, I'm not alone!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Up & Down & Round & Round

Ongoing problems with the location. We were about to start renovation (with the landlord's agent's consent) on Wednesday morning. Received an email on Tuesday night while I was in Melaka asking me to stop the reno works until further notice.

The landlord's agent also took great offence at the email I sent them, and is now being incredibly un-cooperative and....petulant.

Words cannot describe how depressing this is. It's like being constipated and having diarrhea at the same time. Bleh.

I've learnt a lesson, though. It doesn't pay to be Little Miss Right all the time. I could have been more diplomatic and less antagonistic in my email. I was completely justified in my arguments, but I didn't have to write it from my high horse. I think that's why I felt so awful about sending it the next day, I knew I'd been a little harsh. I wasn't a bitch, but I certainly wasn't constructive either.

Anyway, I've started looking for a location up again in case Chiku road falls through. Saw some great places in Kampong Glam - I would love a shophouse there! Not least because my lil bro (related by vodka) SBTG + the Phunk boys would be just across the road and the fabulous eclecticism of Haji Lane is just round the corner.

I met with the agent who reps the area and we went to see a couple of places. All have potential, but would need a significant increase in my rental & reno budget. It's a HEAPS better location than Chiku but I have to figure out if it's worth the 75% increase in rent. I'm surprised there weren't more places available, and it occured to me this morning that perhaps many landlords choose to work without an agent to avoid having to pay commissions!

So with that in mind, I've decided to start a little campaign. I've made a little flyer (laminated and with a little ribbon :) and am going to do a few maildrops in shophouses / units that look empty in Kampong Glam. There are loads!

Let's see if anyone bites.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Birds & Bitches

Ongoing problems with the new location, so I finally wrote a really bitchy note to the estate agents last night. I feel guilty about it, even though I am fully justified in writing it. But I still feel....BAD! I'm disgustingly passive-aggressive. I'd rather give someone a dirty look and the cold shoulder than confront them and talk about the problem. Thank god for email!

I also wrote to the Institute of Estate Agents last week - no bloody response! When I rang them, they dismissed my enquiries with a "sorry we're just the Secretariat and don't have any information". Hopefully someone can enlighten me on what exactly is the point of the IEA's existence if they can't answer questions by phone or email. Oh hang on, it's to look after estate agents and not the rest of us. Duh.

There really needs to be representation for buyers/tenants. Maybe there is and I just don't know about it!

Anyway we've been shopping for the office. Well, browsing. I'm so reluctant to actually commit to a purchase. Nervous!

But one thing (well, 2 things) I have bought are a pair of grey singing finches housed in beautiful antique cages. I love the sound of birdsong, it makes me happy! I plan to hang them on the office porch to welcome people who come to visit.

We've named them Tweetle Dum and Tweetle Dee.

Tweetle Dum

Tweetle Dee

I'm off to Melaka today to buy some Peranakan tiles to to use as a backsplash for the kitchen and perhaps also for the office exterior!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mr Higgins

I'd like to introduce you my favourite food critic and sidekick extraordinaire, Monsieur Higgins.

Before a tasting


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My Very Own Food Photographer

My Dolphin is such a darling. He has gone and bought himself a fantabulous camera, the Canon EOS 30D, plus a macro lens and has appointed himself my personal food photographer!

What a sweetheart! I have to admit that I had a right go at him when he came skulking him with the more expensive prosumer model because I was convinced this was just one of his phases which would go the way of his home gym, architectural scale modelling kits etc...all the things that are collecting dust and mice droppings in the storeroom.

But I'm really impressed!!

Here are a couple of shots he took like, within a week of getting the camera and no lessons or anything!!

I'm so proud :)))

Real Estate Naivete

Taken from The Buyer Advocate, great representation for buyers (um, if you're in Colorado)

I haven't been sleeping well. I wake up with my fists clenched and an ache in my jaw from gritting my teeth.

The unit I preferred wasn't available, but I've taken up another unit a few doors down. It's in better condition, and the feng shui is more favourable...but the whole thing is still stressing me out because my agent is not on my side.

The brief was to find a commercial space from which I could run and operate a test kitchen. Chiku ticks many boxes but on Friday night I receive a call from my agent asking me not to proceed with license approval for the business.

Why? Because the premises aren't approved for commercial use.

I've managed to find a loophole from which to run the business (more on that later) but am very much the wiser when dealing with estate agents. Always ask if they are a seller agent or a tenant's agent. I asked the question - everyone said they work for both but now I know the difference is that a true buyer's agent will work to take their commission from the landlord. They are hard to find these days. My friend, a successful retailer has given me some of his contacts so drop me a line if you need a hook-up.

I know - WHY didn't I speak to him sooner? His abuse is still ringing in my ears. I have written to the IEA to ask for advice re tenant's rights. I could drop the agent and work direct with the landlord's agent but my conscience won't let me. She has been a huge disappointment and let down, but I'd still like to come to equitable agreement. You never know, she may offer to return the commission.

Ok, I'm not THAT frickin' naiive!!!! Hahahaha!!!

So now I have a decision to make.

We're getting the renovation quote tomorrow and I will probably make my decision on how much that comes to. If it's reasonable enough to justify the short-term then I will go for it. The pros are pretty ideal for a start-up situation and I'm confident I can find solutions for the cons.

Sigh. Where the hell is a good crystal ball when you need one??

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Writing Thank You Letters (part I)

**Update 8/6/07 : Comfort received the letter and rang me this morning to say they would be rewarding Danny and holding up as an example! Yay!

I'm really rubbish at making time to write Thank You notes. It's something I must address because I really appreciate great service, and am always touched and delighted when people go the extra mile for me. I've always thought that most people most people (including myself) would sit down and write a complaint to recitify a problem in a flash, but not bother to write an accolade. Why should bad behaviour always be in the spotlight, hey??

So I'm going to throw two virtual bouquets out in this forum, then cut n' paste what I've written and send it through to the Straits Times and their respective corporate customer service departments.

Mr Danny, SHA 5619H, Comfort Transportation

There is soooooo much flak about taxi drivers, I think they are probably as disliked as parking ticket wardens!

But one evening, I was really late for yoga and rang a taxi to take me from home to Ngee Ann City. When we were at the Grange Road/Orchard Boulevard I realised that Darn Bugger Drat I'd left my wallet at home!! I had 10 minutes before the class started and had to turn back to retrieve my purse. The taxi driver was sympathetic and started to indicate to turn around when we had the following conversation:

Danny "Aiya, damn leichei go all the way back then your class starting what time?"
Chrissy "In ten minutes!"
Danny "Aiyoh then you surely cannot make it. Tell you what, why don't I dropy ou off then come and collect the money from your home later. What time you finish?"
Chrissy "Hah, really? Then I run off how? Are you sure?"
Danny "Yah yah, sure. Anyway that one just now is your house right?"
Chrissy "Yah yah my house"
Danny "Then how to run off, I know where you live liao. Ho ho ha ha!"

So he dropped me off at the taxi stand and then tried to give me $10 so I could get home!!!!! Can you bloody believe it?? I was truly gobsmacked but had to refuse - how could I accept $10 from the taxi driver uncle when he'd already gone out of his way?? We exchanged numbers and I said he could come by the house at 10:30pm because my class finished at about 10pm.

But wait, there's more!!

After my yoga class, I had to ... ahem... err... call mum to come pick me up because I was stuck without money or transport. And at 10pm, Danny rang me again to say he was at Ngee Ann City waiting to take me home?!?!!!!!

*mouth drops open and eyes as wide as saucers*

And when he came over to the house to collect the taxi fare, he refused to take anything more than the exact fare even though I insisted on paying double cos he had to come back!!

If I wasn't already attached (and I was also 20 years older) I'd marry this man!!!!

So instead, I'm going to try to hire him!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


They're a local company that really inspires me. They're constantly innovating and thinking of new ways to grow market share as well as creating new segments. This is really what innovation is about - creating new desires and needs, offering a new perspective, doing things differently and better! Food Republic & Toast Box are so much fun!

Read ieatishootipost's article on their latest addition, Breadtalk Silver.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Pro & A Con

Look at my hands.

A chiromancer would say that I think and worry far too much, and he would be right. It's in my nature to project and extrapolate, to worry a situation to bits until I feel confident I've got everything covered.

Being on my own really tests some of my limits. Today's real estate drama for instance. My natural anxiety levels double because (a) there's no-one to fall back on should things f*ck up; and (b) it's my money that I stand to lose - not an agency's or client's corporate dollars which can be written off as a tax claim at the end of the year. It's money from my own pocket.

It turns out that the unit I had looked at over the weekend was not yet available because the existing tenant had broken a contractual agreement, and the landlord had to tread lightly because of an existing relationship. So it's 70% likely they would be moving out, but they may stay if the LL and tenant come to an understanding.

If they stay, I would get another unit a couple of doors down. Not as ideal in terms of positioning, but still good.

Why did both the agents feel the need to pressure me by saying all the units had been taken up, pushing me to put down a deposit and sign an LOI before soneone else nabbed it when it wasn't the truth? *shakes head*

Now - if they had been transparent about this situation right up, it would have saved alot of grief. I would have agreed to it anyway, there was no need to bullshit me.

A Con: Starting-up means dealing with things beyond your control and bearing all the responsiblities and consequences of your decisions. There's no-one to blame or fall back on, and even if there was, you'd still have to clean up the mess.

In any case, I have decided to trust. I believe that given a choice, most people will do the right thing and I also believe in karma. I deserve to be treated with fairness so....I trust that things will work out, eternal optimist that I am!

I also came across a remarkable insight the other night as I was squirming in bed, excited about the future.

As scary as it is to take a leap of faith, there is a huge liberation and freedom once you've taken the plunge. It's so different from anything I've experienced before.

Like, when I was working it would be totally exciting waiting for the result fo a pitch, or the night before starting at a new agency. But the excitement was limited. There was a box in which everything would or could happen. A structure in place over which I had very little control. So the worst, and the best, that could happen lay within the boundaries of that constraint.

Some would think that security and risk-free environment is good.

But the way I see it - when you leap into the abyss, the world is your oyster. You are at the helm of all possibilities.

I'm a huge HUGE fan of Neil Gaiman, and no wonder because his graphic novel series, The Sandman, is about the god of Dreams. Vol. 6: Fables & Reflections opens with a story called Fear of Falling - it's about a young man who has become paralysed by fear. One night, he falls asleep and meets the Sandman in his dreams. Here is an excerpt* from that story. Click through to Flickr to read them properly.

Learn how to embed your own flickr slideshows to your blog here.

A Pro: When you fall for your dreams, sometimes you will wake. Sometimes the fall will kill you. But sometimes when you fall, you fly.

*I know I shouldn't be posting something I have no permission to use. If anyone objects, tell me and I will take it down.

Real Estate Woes

I'm upset.

This property I'm so exuberant about was acquired via two co-broking agents from extremely well known agencies - ERA and Knight Frank.

I paid 1 month's agency commission to my agent, deposited 1 month's rent with the landlord's agent and signed the Letter of Intent yesterday.

Today, I discover that the property I have paid a deposit for may not be available because the previous tenant has not vacated. When I rang the landlord's agent, he was with the landlord and I overhead him say my unit is not available.

I've already paid 1 mth's commission plus 1 mth's deposit and bought the kitchen stuff. I feel naiive and dumb and am thinking about stopping those cheques :(

Am I being too kan cheong?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Web 2.0 - The Machine is Us/ing Us

This is kind of old news, but Prof Michael Wesch's video about Web 2.0 is so clever & creative & expanding that I wanted to post it here so I can always remember it. It's stuff like this that makes me hungry every day to learn something new.

A Prayer for the Future : When I grow up, please don't let me be afraid of technology.

Did I Mention I'm Happy??

I am, I am, I am!!

Sent from my Blackberry Wireless

Chiku Pek*

Yay yay yippee yippee yay!!! *gyrates and shimmies across the room*

I found a location!! Wow wow wow! I'm so excited!

I was really quite down in the dumps on Friday because things just didn't seem to be moving, I was annoyed with myself for slacking off just because the Dolphin was home and was on the verge of sending CVs out to agencies because the Universe seemed to have lost interest. I know...D-R-A-M-A!

An agent had taken us to view Tempco Technominium in Ayer Rajah, and altho it was a nice well maintained building - it just wasn't right for us. Completely off-brand. I suppose the name should have given it away :P

Later in the evening, we had an appointment to see a place in Joo Chiat, which is out in the east. I've been a west side girl all my life, so was mainly focusing on locations in my parts and didn't have alot of expectations for this viewing. BUT I had told myself to see and be open to everything that came my way.

And wow - it was another one of those instants when you see something, or someplace - and immediately a flower blooms in your gut. Do you know the feeling? It's simliar to recognizing a good idea. It was a refurbished pre-war single level shophouse.

A List of Things that make it Perfect

  • Space for a kitchen
  • A private car park that backs right up to the back door for easy loading/unloading
  • It's in an uber-retro neighbourhood that is right on brand - they still have old-skool barbers and Chinese medicine halls right down the street!
  • The name of the road is Chiku, which is one of my favourite fruits and relevant to the NewBiz
  • The space is a beautiful blank canvas on which to paint all my ideals
  • I am surrounded by my target market who live in the neighbourhood
  • It's just the right size and just the right price

The shophouse exterior

A beautiful blank canvas

And guess what? We met one of the tenants (an interior design firm) and discovered he is the brother of one of my good friends and wakeboarding mentors!!! Can you bloody believe it??!

So the Dolphin and I immediately went home and drew up a rough plan.
And then the MooMoo made a FABULOUS suggestion to use the space more effectively and generate revenue in the mornings which I'm super excited about!

Oh! IKEA have this AMAZING tool they use to plan their kitchens and it's perfectly handy for planning any sort of space as well. Check it out, I've been having so much fun with it over the weekend.

And then the next day, I went for my cupcake baking class (still semi-drunk and very bleary-eyed) which I will write about in my next post. It was so much fun!

And today, I'm going shopping for the office! Yay!! I can get my KitchenAid appliances now - and if you love retro reproductions as much as I do, you'll now exactly why I'm grinning like a cheshire!

And...the Great Singapore Sale is on right now this very second!

I'm the luckiest girl in the world!

* For my non-Singaporean friends, the post title is a play on the Singlish (Singapore English) phrase "Chee Ko Pek" which means dirty old man.'s a perfect description for Joo Chiat which turns a darker hue of shady once the sun goes down!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Battle at Kruger

Ok technically this has nothing to do with starting up but here is a wonderful parallel to be drawn with human nature, and with the vulnerable ego of a new enterprise.

The bull calf initially yields to his fate, offering no resistance. But despite being mauled by lions and tug-o-war'd by crocodiles, as soon as he sees his herd and knows that he is valued & not alone, he immediately starts to struggle and fight!! I won't ruin the ending for you, but it brought a very large tear to my eye!

How marvellous!!

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