Being the Shams

The past three months has been nothing but exciting and adventurous. I ended 2013 with a crazy trip to Europe and the possibility of a new start in life – a new job, a new love and a new Shams.

But 2014 began and it was just a new Shams.

I ditched the idea of getting full-time employment and got ditched by the almost new love. But there I was, standing alone as the new Shams. A Shams who embraces change and the fluidity of life. A Shams who understands whatever she plans is only subject to the plans of her Creator. A Shams who has only faith and faith alone to live her life. A Shams who is patient when she is being tested. And a Shams who tries her best to see the good in people – even those who had hurt her.

And everyday, I am learning more about this new Shams inside of me.

In life, you are either Rumi waiting for Shams to make an appearance in your life, or you are the Shams to someone else’s life.

That was what I learnt during the book club reading of Forty Rules of Love. I guess it’s just timely that I embody the true meaning of my name – Sun in the House. I’ll be the sun to someone else’s life even though at times I really wish I could seek shelter for myself.

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Cafe Hopping: Wheeler’s Yard

Wheeler’s Yard is the new kid on the block with regards to Singapore’s new hipster cafe scene. I’m not too sure when this cafe opened but when I first stepped afoot there last month, I was blown away by its size, location and comfort. It’s actually a huge warehouse and the cafe functions as a bicycle shop as well. There’s plenty of space, so you don’t have to worry about not getting a seat or having to be on a waiting list. Parking lots, however, is limited so you might have to park your cars at the HDB parking nearby.

The first time I was at Wheeler’s Yard, I had the espresso shot. They didn’t have Americano (beats me why they didn’t have it on the menu), so I couldn’t judge the quality of the coffee fairly. When I cafe hop, I use the Americano as quality control. I do have to admit, the espresso was strong enough to keep me up a bit later than my usual bed time.

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The menu, however, was very limited. You would think that a cafe with such an enormous space would have fancy and unique things on the menu, but not so for Wheeler’s Yard. The coffee menu was limited to espresso shots, latte and cappuccino. They do have umm a $4 milk on the menu, as well as hot chocolate and sodas and teas – oh not forgetting beers. The only food I had was the nachos, and I must say they do a darn good nacho.

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As for the latte, I cannot say much because I have never been a fan of lattes, although latte art is beautiful. I didn’t want the espresso this time round so my friends and I went for the latte.

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Did I mention the place is exceptionally beautiful for a pre-wedding or wedding photo shoot? The space, high ceilings and warehouse vibes certainly did inspire me.

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Overall, I think Wheeler’s Yard is a great place for hanging out with friends, and just let the day pass by. I wouldn’t go back for coffee unless my friends do want to pay the place a visit.

Wheeler’s Yard

28 Lorong Ampas Singapore 328781
Phone: 62549128
Mon: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Wed – Sat: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sun: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/wheelersyard

Reminiscing Europe: Freshly Baked Loaves of Bread

What do I miss most about Europe apart from the wonderful weather? The bread. There is just something about the loaves of bread I had while traveling the continent last year. The crisp cracking sound of the bread as you bite into it, and the moist and soft texture of the insides – you could eat the bread just on its own, but spreading a little butter and jam seemed like heaven on earth to me. When I got home, I knew my standard of quality for good bread has gone off the roof. I’ve tried buying bread from local bakeries and even the upscale ones in the heart of expat living here in Singapore. Sadly, none of them satisfied my extremely decadent tastebuds. In local speak, the European bread I had spoil market for the bread made locally.

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My friend, Shireen, has an amazing mother who makes bread almost every weekend. We call her Ahjumma Shima, partly because she love her Korean dramas and also that is her Instagram handle. If you want to see pictures of lovely bread filling your instagram feed, do follow her @ahjumma_shima. Each time she uploads a picture, I almost lick my phone screen call her up for the recipe.

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While in Paris, I had the chance to attend two baking courses with La Cuisine Paris; a macaron baking workshop as well as a baguette and boulangerie workshop. The chef taught us to make bread using fresh yeast, so as usual, I had to substitute the finest ingredients for mediocre ones. Le sigh. Anyhoos, this bread recipe is pretty amazing, and I’m glad it worked really well for me. I am one who usually has no patience to wait when it comes to food (yes yes is it so hard to believe haha). I had to distract myself while waiting for the bread to rise by watching Big Bang Theory (of which I tend to scare my mother with the occasional bursts of laughter). I got this recipe from An Oregon Cottage. I could not find whole wheat flour, so I used whole wheat German rye flour instead. Still tastes awesome!

Now wait. I’m beginning to think this German rye flour is the secret to delicious bread…

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Wholewheat Soft Bread (Makes 2 loaves)

  • 6 to 6-1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I used wholewheat German rye flour)
  • 2-1/2 cups warm water (don’t use hot water! it kills the yeast!
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten- aka bread improver (you can omit this)
  1. Combine water, yeast and 2 cups of the flour in a mixing bowl. Set aside to sponge for 15 minutes.
  2. Add honey, oil, salt, (gluten if using), and 4 cups of flour. Mix until dough starts to clean sides of bowl. Change to dough hook (or turn out to knead by hand), and knead 6 to 7 minutes (10 by hand). Add only tablespoons of flour if dough sticks to sides, being careful not to add too much.
  3. Form into two loaves and place in greased 9×5″ pans. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 60 minutes (1-2 inches above pans). Preheat oven to 350 ten minutes before rising time is done.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through if needed.
  5. Immediately remove from pans to cool on a rack.