Liebster and One Lovely Blog Awards

I can’t tell you how incredibly surprised and honoured I was to be nominated for the Liebster and One Lovely Blog Awards! It’s always nice when fellow bloggers stop by to comment or like a post, but this! Such a special and pleasant surprise – thank you, Victoria! Check out her blog, Canny Cuisine, where she shares yummy recipes and the like (her instagram is full of food too).

There are two awards here, and I’m going to take them both on at one go! (If not you’ll probably be reading until tomorrow morning, OR fall asleep – which is more likely to happen)

For One Lovely Blog, the rules are:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to his/her award post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know about this.

The Liebster Award is more complicated, and the rules go like this:

1. Put up the Liebster Award logo on a blog post
2. Thank your nominator and provide a link back to his/her blog
3. Write 10 random facts about yourself
4. Answer 10 questions posted by the nominator
5. Nominate 10 other bloggers for the award and inform them about it
6. Come up with 10 new questions for your nominees

Which puts me at 3, where I swan dive into 10 random facts about myself

1. I’m a Violinist and I do gigs as well as teach violin to kids during my free time.
2. I was a semi-finalist in a nation-wide singing competition, and eventually got to perform on stage in front of a crowd of 30,000 – the stress was intense, from choreography to vocal training to wardrobe, but was also where I got to know an amazing bunch of very musically-talented people.
3. I’m a rather sentimental person and Interstellar made me tear a record 8 times.
4. I love food, and it probably occupies my mind about 60% of the time. Okay, maybe 50%.
5. I’m actually kinda geeky and enjoy reading about all sorts of things from cryptography to writing code to nutrition to the science of smell :/ I think I’m just making up for how disinterested I was in everything when I was a kid.
6. I did the world’s highest bungee jump off the Macau tower last year – the craziest thing ever but woo yea!!
7. I love being outdoors- and near plants. They make me happy. I need plants.
8. I can lucid dream, which means adventures await almost every night.
9. I learnt muay thai for a few months last year and when I went into office one day, my boss asked if I was suffering from abuse.
10. I like the idea of being bad-ass. Sometimes, I try.

And incoming, the 10 questions posed by Victoria. Here goes!

#1 What is your favourite food and why? Chocolate. I just can’t. live. without. it. 

#2 Why did you start blogging? I love taking photographs, and I love writing so 1+1=Memoirs of Taste! Naw, that’s the half truth. I wanted to record of all the places I’ve been so that not only can I recall them, I can also share useful information about these places – information that I myself would have found useful to know before my visit and find so hard to find online.

#3 What do you do when life gets you down? I sit down in the quiet and think. I’d have a conversation with myself, reflect on the state of things, and then make a list of ways to improve the situation or overcome it.

#4 What is the weirdest song you know? Uh… What does the fox say?

#5 If you were a colour, what colour would that be and why? This is tough… I don’t have a favourite colour either. Black? I wear a lot of black because it’s so classic.

#6 What is the most difficult dish you’ve ever made, and how did it turn out? I made chapati from scratch. It took hours and it wasn’t bad, but I also succeeded in covering the entire dining table in flour and dough.

#7 What is the one thing you can’t live without? I hate to be cheesy, but it’s gotta be love. And water. Yea, that too.

#8 If you had the chance to be invisible for 1 day, what would you do? I might raid the bank. Haha.

#9 Who is your favourite super hero? Iron Man! He has the tech!

#10 What is your most favourite thing that you’ve ever done? Can I say travelling?? If I had to be specific, it would be my roadtrip through Italy! Amo Italia!

My turn to nominate – Yes you!

1. Peeled Wellness – K shares recipes that are great for people who believe in eating the natural way

2. Chincinitie – Very unique perspectives on street trends

3. Petite Christine – Plenty of adventures in America, including travel and food

4. Alex Elliott Photography – If you love beautiful scenery, Alex is your man. Stunning, stunning pictures.

5. Checking in. – Yes, check-in for great travel tips from budget travel to airbnb

6. Cooking with Kathy Man – A curated reel of recipes sourced from everywhere and interesting food facts

7. the L A Z E of days – Lovely recipes and mouthwatering pictures – a good resource for ideas on what to cook

8. Duane Pandorf – I don’t think Duane needs more followers, but I do think lots of people haven’t discovered his fantastic photography yet, and since Liebster is not just for newbies, I’m adding Duane to the list.

9. Watch! – A reel full of macro pictures full of colour, and incredible detail – Laila captures some truly amazing moments

10. Having fun with my camera – For someone who’s “having fun with (the) camera”, they sure take a lot of good wildlife photos 😛

And finally, some quick questions to you guys:

1. What is your biggest source of inspiration?
2. What was the first thing you ever wrote (or remember you ever wrote)?
3. Monochrome or sepia?
4. What is one thing you haven’t done but want to do?
5. Favourite food/dish and best associated memory?
6. If you had everything you needed to do whatever you wanted for a week, what would you do?
7. What do you fear (e.g. heights, darkness, etc.)?
8. Ever thought of overcoming that fear, and how would you do it?
9. Favourite book or movie, and why?
10. What do you hope to achieve with your blog and how can we help you get there?

PHEWWW that was long! All the best to my nominees – do tag me if you reply because I’ll love to learn about you.

Personal: From A Distant Hilltop

A horn sounded. I ran down the hill in an attempt capture a good picture of a passing train. Local Japanese turned their heads to the window, curiously watching as an asian girl in a striped blue shirt with grey jeans tucked into black boots sprinted towards them with a DSLR.

After the scene had passed, I turned back around to re-orientate myself after the sudden, unexpected flurry, and found my family at the spot which I’d left them at – still far away, standing at the top of one of the hills in the garden. I lifted my camera.

My uncle noticed me first and started waving. Then my parents and other aunts and uncles began to look in my direction. They waved enthusiastically and as I adjusted the lens, faces flushed with broad smiles and laughter came into clearer focus.

The itinerary for this trip was left largely to my cousin and I, and I was definitely the more particular of us both. Armed with TripAdvisor, trusty Google, and advice from friends, I’d mapped the routes, booked everything from hotels to restaurants, and read reviews and articles over a period of 2 months prior to the trip – I know that probably sounds crazy to most people, but I just wanted to make sure everything was as perfect as could be, you know?

Everyone knows I’m big on planning – from whom I need to catch up with and when, to places I want to go, etc. By any date, I usually would’ve mapped out my schedule for the next 2 weeks or so, and I typically kickoff each year with a list of projects and things that I want to achieve in the next 365.25 days. Most of my “free time” (to do whatever I might feel like doing) or personal time is planned for – “planned spontaneity” is what I call it, oxymoronic as that sounds.

When I look at this photograph, reward – that’s what it means to me. All that planning, researching, everything- that was all made worth it. My family- smiling, waving, sharing a good laugh, on the hill top of a garden in Abashiri, midway through our roadtrip in Hokkaido.

June 2014, 網走国定公園小清水原生花園 (Garden opposite Lake Tofutsu), Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Reward.”

Poetry by Photography: Whispers on the Mountainside

I knelt to look at a tuft of white, leaning from the wind’s strong might. Parachuters airdropped from up above, sailing on their wings like doves.

And then- with sudden epiphany, I understood how the mountainside came to be. For every few who downward fell, rather more, flew up as well.

I looked on up to the summit top, which I hastened to reach without a stop. For I realised what might’ve seemed colossal at first, was nothing more than life’s tiny verse.

June 2014, Mt Moere covered in dandelions, Moerenuma Park, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Scale.”

Personal: How deep is his love?

The perfect example for the word “depth” finally dawned upon me last Sunday, summed up beautifully in a Christian song by Stuart Townend.

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss – the Father turns His gaze away, as wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many Sons to glory.

It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished; His dying breath has brought me life – I know that it is finished.

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer; But this I know with all my heart – His wounds have paid my ransom.

September 2012, Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, Rome, Italy

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

Prose by Photography: The Falcon sees

An unshaven Arab man approached us at the gate of the campsite after the end of our Dubai dessert tour. He was thin, had a red checkered head wrap, a thin moustache and one lazy eye. He smiled gently at us, his dark skinned wrinkling from too much time in the sun, stretched out his arm which wore an arm guard on which a falcon stood, and asked if we wanted to take a photograph with it.

The falcon is a majestic bird, and even more so, up close. I observed her as she fixed her gaze on the horizon where the sun was about to set, and I wondered what she could be thinking – did she want to soar again into the sky as she once used to? Did she resent the little chain around one of her feet which kept her from flying? Did she resent the man who had taken her freedom and yet sustained her? Or could she understand that now, as much as she relies on him, he relies on her too?

I noticed the large chip in the front of her beak and wondered how long ago that happened- and if the wound reminded her of things she wanted to forget- just like how our scars, visible or otherwise, sometimes inevitably remind us of a time of pain and suffering, no matter if we thought we’d moved on.

Yet she remained poised, her plume of chest feathers raised high, her gaze still fixed unwaveringly on the horizon, her brown eyes ignited into a shade of amber by the last light – She was chained yet undefeated, wounded yet not discouraged. And I wondered if a day might come that she might find freedom again.

March 2014, Desert, Dubai, UAE

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

The Beginnings of Memoirs of Taste

<link rel="canonical" href="http://memoirsoftaste.com/index.php/2015/01/03/the-beginnings-of-memoirs-of-taste-by-zabrina-alexis-chew/" />

I’ve become so much a lover of food these past few years that I’m surprised that I didn’t think of doing this earlier. But hey 2015, new year, new beginnings – I guess better late than never.

Growing up, I was always extremely fussy with my food and refused to eat at least half a billion things. I must be making up for lost time now, because I think of food 24/7 and look forward to all my meals. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but one thing for certain is that I have grown to truly appreciate my food and take an interest in what’s going into it and how it got to be at my table. Oh, and the second thing for certain is that I don’t think I’ll ever survive a diet of any kind – the wide spectrum of tastes is just too amazing to miss. I tried a diet once and almost died from crankiness. This is why I’m setting out to try new places, revisit old ones, and document them all from 2015.

Food makes me happy, and just like for scents, I sometimes associate food with specific memories. That explains the title of my blog, Memoirs of Taste. Rather than having a TV (or YouTube) dinner, meals are better had with other people, accompanied with a little chat and sprinkles of laughter. Meals were meant for us to socialise and appreciate the company of family and friends, and I don’t mean to sound archaic but in the past, they were always important events and community-based things probably with good reason. I’ve also come to realise that I enjoy my food a lot more when I’m actually thinking about it, not when mindless munching while scrolling through net-a-porter.com.

So Memoirs of Taste is my food diary – the places I’ve been, things I’ve tried… and me documenting these experiences in my own personal way, especially since I love taking pictures of food. It’s also a good way for me to keep track of what I liked, what I didn’t, what I’d learnt, and to remember every single moment of it all. Life’s too short to not be living it.

Yours Truly, Zabrina