Thursday, December 12, 2013

Retail Shop Concept

Just before I leave for my Christmas holiday.. let me share my latest project. It is a retail shop for swimsuit and Knick Knacks. 10m x 10m size. Client wanted something rustic and modern and this is my interpretation.
Here are the views..
a more close up view..
the whole store view..

My two bosses loved it.. and again for their high standard, that makes me happy and proud. Let's hope the client loves it too.
I enjoyed making this shop.. It was a 3-day concept including design, 3d modelling and rendering..
This is one of those small projects that makes me love being a designer.

Let me know your thoughts...



Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Growing Miniature Christmas Town Collection

Christmas Season last year is when Chief suggested that we start collecting these miniature Christmas Town Structures. The whole month of December, we would go to Ace Harware of Dubai Festival City to buy one structure per week. You should've seen me giggling with excitement on which of which to buy every week. 

This year, we have started again to add more to our growing collection. Hopefully we'd get to  collect as much and create our little Christmas town.

Right now we placed them on top of the bookshelf in our library/study.. so far we have 7!

Let me show you each of what we got..
and here it is when lit..
Some require a couple of AA batteries to have the light function or some are connected with an adapter to a power outlet..
Hardware unlit..
and here it is when lit.. see those little dioramas inside?? so cute!
then we also have the clock tower which gives variety to your little structure for your little town.. again unlit..
and when lit..
Then we also have this..a tractor repair shop..
when lit..
of course we bought the Italian restaurant.. too bad the swith for the light was broken :( This is also more cool when lit..
then we have..The city hall.. unlit
and when lit..
You see that little window?? A diorama.. a wedding is being officiated.. want to see inside??
Then we have my favorite.. The movie theater with a pub..
Here it is when lit..oh! and this comes with music too when you turn on the light!
want to peek inside the ticket booth??
and here is the inside of the Pub..
So cute ei?
presenting..our growing collection for our mini Christmas Miniature Town..

We are leaving in a week's time.. can't wait to celebrate White Christmas with my family and Chief!!



Saturday, December 7, 2013

I Made Sicilian Arancini

It's been almost a year now since we've been to Italy. Chief and I are craving for the Sicilian Arancini. It is a local food originated from Palermo, Italy (where he is from.. and yeah yeah I know.. where the mafia started!!lol). I remember that I was with his mom when we bought the arancini from a local store and we all shared it for lunch.
Since then, we hadn't had a decent arancini. You can actually order it from Italian restaurants but of course nothing compared to the original we had in Palermo.
Aranci or Aranca pronounced as "aranchi or arancha" in Italian means oranges. This recipe is called Arancini because they look like oranges. In english, they are called rice croquettes or rice balls. 
Today, I decided to put an end to the craving. I watched a few videos on youtube and I checked our fridge and made my own version of Arancini.
This is the risotto. Riso is the italian term for rice. Cooking the risotto is a bit tricky and should be watched well.
I apologize for the quality of the photos. I was so hungry and cannot wait to start cooking so I used my phone to take them.
 This is the Ragu that I prepared for the filling. I used minced beef (it is what I have in the fridge). Ragu is the italian term for meat sauce. 
The only missing ingredient was the soft cheese for the filling. It can be a mozzarella or provolone cheese. I had to ask Chief to get it from the grocery quickly. 
He came back with the cheese plus these..

 Aww.. isn't he the sweetest? He said he doesn't want my vase in the living room empty of flowers.. and I'm sure he got me these because I was making him Arancini. He really didn't have to but it just made me more passionate to make the best Arancini for him.
Let's continue the cooking..
Ingredients to make Arancini are..
Risotto Rice.. I made this with Arborio Rice, Butter, Saffron, egg yolks, salt and grated Parmesan Cheese..
Then the Ragu.. minced meat cooked in olive oil with butter, onions, red wine, tomato paste and spices..The secret to a good Arancini is a tasty filling so make sure to make really good Ragu Sauce..
Sliced soft cheese. As I said it can be Provolone or Mozzarella. I am using Mozzarella because it's what Chief found in the grocery.

Then to coat it with breading we will need some beaten eggs.. i used two..
and some bread crumbs..
Here are my ingredients..
Now as preparation for making the balls, I placed some risotto on a plate and spread it. This way, it cools down quickly and helps with preventing your hands to get burned from the hot rice.
yes.. those red strings you see are the Saffrons..
You will be needing some water on the side to help you with rolling the balls and prevent them from sticking to your hands..
Shall we start?
Flatten the rice on your hands and forma circle. Make the middle part deeper as you position your hand in a scoop form. Put some ragu in the center and a big chunk of mozzarella in the center. Get another scoop of rice with your free hand and flatten to cover the other half of the ball. Roll the ball and make it smooth as much as you can (not lumpy). I make the ball roll on one hand around by putting my hand in a scoop form and make the ball roll around. 
As a tip, I suggest that you make the rice balls first (all of it!) because after dipping from eggs and bread crumbs, your hands become covered with ingredients. Which makes it a bit difficult to make the next batch of balls.
Dip the rice balls on eggs, then the bread crumbs. Make sure to cover the whole ball and have something like this..
 Do this step repetitively until all balls are covered and ready.
Fry the balls in oil. Make sure to have it covered in oil at least 3/4. If you want to fully dip it in oil, it will be better. I did the 3/4 one.
and here it is turned over..
Make sure not to over fry and the colors should be golden or orange. 
Here is my finished product.. Sicilian Arancini..
Make sure not to make too thick rice..

I made 19 balls in total.. and we ate 5pcs. 2 for me and 3 for Chief. 
He loved my Arancini! He said it is the best Arancini he has ever had. This is a big honor for me knowing how particular Chief. Let's say he is very spoiled when it comes to food. He has traveled a lot and has eaten on best restaurants all over the world. For him to comment that my Arancini was the best he had-- considering he lived in Palermo and has been having this dish his whole life... that is a star for me :)
I kept the rest of the arancini balls in seal-able bags to freeze.
Chief said we will serve it when two of our Italian friends come to visit ( which is in a few days time).. he cannot wait to brag to them that her non-Italian-Sicilian woman can make really good Sicilian food!

I hope you guys enjoyed this post as much as I had making the Arancini! 



Monday, December 2, 2013

Sri Lanka Holiday Part 02: Safari-Sigiriya, Peradeniya - Botanical Gardens , Ceylon Tea Plantation

A long overdue continuation post from our August Sri Lanka Trip. 

We went on a Safari!!!
Chief was so excited about this activity. I don't know if I mentioned before about Chief's fascination with animals, from primates, to lions, to tigers, crocodiles, komodo dragon, leopards.. etc! So imagine his excitement for this Safari.
Originally we planned to go to Madagascar or Serengeti in Tanzania instead of Sri Lanka. But the problem was trips to those countries require a lot of preparations. We need to do a lot of research, take some precautionary shots for illness, research on insurance etc..etc.. 
Due to this, we ended up deciding on Sri Lanka. It was near, less than 5 hours on the plane and we'd still get to do the Safari that Chief wanted. With a very minimal research, we went for it. In the end, it was a very good trip.
Enough of talk, let me share the photos of our adventure.. 
This is the drive to go inside the park..
This is the transportation for the Safari. We hired one vehicle just to ourselves. 

As you can see the top part of the vehicle is open so you can stand and have a better view of the park, the animals and also to take photos..
The first stop led us to this area with elephants..
which is adjacent to a river where we saw more elephants..

There's this cute baby elephant that slipped face first in the water.. it was so cute!! Chief caught it on his camera, I didn't  because I was laughing too hard lol!

This is when it finally stood up and gained his composure..
and here it is trying to go back up out of the water..
and finally! It was so cute!
as we drove off after this part of the park..we saw a meadow far ahead.. 

Then we passed a small shallow river with an alligator..
 More elephants from afar..seeing this gave us a sudden rush of excitement..imagine seeing these animals out in the open.. it was like a mini "Serengeti" my man was ecstatic.
Some Birds..
As we go near them..

we encountered another herd of elephants..
and when you turn back to where we came from this is what you see..
Isn't it spectacular?? It was so beautiful..These times make you see how beautiful the world is..
And as we move away to go back.. I took another photo of where we were..
We were exhausted. We had to drive 5hours back to Kandy after this and our butts were so sore from the long drive.
We are planning to go back but this time to do the Safari in Yala National Park. Experience sleeping on tents and the adventure of being surrounded by animals hopefully have he chance to see Sloth Bears and Leopards.
The next day we went to see some water falls..

There was a lake above where the water was coming from. We had lunch at a hotel where the same lake was the view before trekking to see this waterfall.
Then we hired a Tuktuk to go to the Ceylon Tea Plantation.. Another beautiful place.. I will let the photos speak for itself..
It felt like you were in a different country.. somewhere Europe maybe.. but not! We are still in Sri Lanka..
We trekked around the big lake. It was beautiful!
By the way, this lake is on the top of a mountain!

I personally love the succeeding shots I did from my phone..

Isn't it beautiful?

Looks like a perfect place to shoot a commercial right?

just full of lush green..
yeah.. that would be me..
This is from the other side of the lake where you have the pine trees..

Overall it was a good less than an hour trek for us including the stops to take photos..It was so calm and beautiful.. All that green bush you see are tea plants.. You will see ladies with big baskets on their backs harvesting tea leaves..
The place was just so calm.

The next day was a trip to the Botanical Gardens.. We've taken few photos..

Pathways were like this..

and more trees..

Oh. And let me give you a glimpse of the boutique hotel we stayed at Colombo..
This is the hotel lobby..

The pool..and you can see several archways that leads to rooms..actually two rooms per archway..

That's it for Sri Lanka! If you have questions regarding vacationing in Sri Lanka you can write your comments below and I will try to answer as much as I can based on our experience in discovering this country.

I hope you guys enjoyed  this post and going through the photos as much as I did writing it for you. In a way, I am hoping that this helps out people who are planning to visit this beautiful country one day.