Shabby Background

Thursday, January 31

On loan

In this post: Booking Through Thursday and Thursday Thirteen

Do you lend your books? Are any out on loan right now? Do you have any that have been loaned to you? Do you put a time limit on these? Do you think people should make an effort to read the loaned book quickly? 
I loan books. They disappear. They never get returned or it takes years for them to be back. I currently have two books that would have to be shipped sooner or later. Former college friends who lent them have moved back to home country. Expat life.

Back to those books on loan - I'm learning to be firm on having them returned. When I fly home I take time to do a little inventory of my books, especially those of the kiddo as they have some real price tags, and I am hearing reports of Neighbor A and B borrowing this book and that without any talk of when to return them. I also encourage my mother to keep track of her own books. She lends them and is rather lenient with those who don't return them.

Time limit is a good idea especially with books that one wants to keep. I think people should take advantage of the books they borrow by reading them before the return date is up.

Thursday 13: Random words from Pride and Prejudice

Two hundred years! How grand is that? Happy anniversary P&P!

1. celerity - a rate that is rapid
2. importune - to beg
3. disengage - release from something that holds fast, connects or disentangles
"Then taking the disengaged arm of Mr. Darcy, she left Elizabeth to walk by herself."
4. iniquitous -  characterized by iniquity; wicked because it is believed to be a sin
"It certainly is a most iniquitous affair," said Mr. Bennet, "and nothing can clear Mr. Collins from the guilt of inheriting Longbourn."
5. asperity - harshness of manner
* I remember this in the film when Mrs Bennet assured Mr Collins that "we are able to keep a cook."
6. supercilious - having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy
"For, though elated by his rank, it did not render him supercilious; on the contrary, he was all attention to everybody."
7. abominable - unequivocally detestable
8. expostulation - exclamation of protest or remonstrance or reproof

"Miss Bingley warmly resented the indignity he had received, in an expostulation with her brother for talking such nonsense."
 9. disconcert - cause to lose one's composure.
* This must be when Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley came suddenly to Longbourn. Mrs Bennet was disconcerted.
10.  affront - a deliberately offensive act or something producing the effect of deliberate disrespect
"There was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody; and Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman..." 
11. threadbare - having the nap worn away so that the threads show through
"... Mary had some extracts to admire, and some new observations of threadbare morality to listen to."
12. interpose - introduce
 "... without having paid yourself and Mr. Bennet the compliment of requesting you to interpose your..."
13. upbraid - express criticism towards  
"You will not thank me for detaining you from the bewitching converse of that young lady, whose bright eyes are also upbraiding me."

Tuesday, January 29

Cabbages and condoms

Cabbages and Condoms is a restaurant "conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA)" in Thailand. (C&C Restaurant Bangkok)

Mechai Viravaidya, the restaurant founder who is nicknamed Mr Condom, is a former politician and activist who popularised condom use, encouraged family planning and raised AIDS awareness in Thailand. He believes that “birth control should be as accessible and as easy to buy as vegetables in the market.”

Set in a beautiful garden courtyard aglow with fairy lights at night, the restaurant is conveniently located on 10 Sukhumvit Soi 12 and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Everywhere almost everything you see has something to do with birth control. Its unique theme has attracted international attention. A sign around Tiger Woods' condom golf club says, "did you use them Tiger?"

I celebrated my birthday here a couple of years back with a girl friend. We explored fun visuals and items for sale, then peeped at their bar called Captain Condom

They claim their food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy. After paying for our meal I found something in our tab that at first I thought were mints. Chuckling at the condoms, my friend teased the server, "don't these things come with a man?!"

Monday, January 28

My Snow White brunch

What could be more delightful
than a day off work
with Snow White and her merry Seven
the witch's apple now nut-laden 
secrets on the pages
waltzing with chocolate kisses?

Friday, January 25

Scallops and mango strips

A meal that involves something deep fried and a salad is usually an automatic win for me. This was one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions to explore the menu of a restaurant that does not require a reservation. I then naturally chose my favorite combination of tastes in these fried scallops with mango strips in sweet and sour sauce.

I fancy those fresh sea scallops that are 'seared in thyme-infused butter and drenched in white wine.' But while the link for that fancy is broken, here's an alternative recipe from Southern Food, which I think is just as yummy. 

1 cup flour                                                                         1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika                                                             2 eggs
2 tablespoons water                                                           fine dry bread crumbs
2 cups scallops, cut to about 3/4-inch cubes if large

If scallops are large, cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Dry completely with paper towel. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and paprika. In another bowl, whisk eggs with water. Put bread crumbs in a third bowl. Dip scallops in the flour mixture, then dip in egg, then in the bread crumbs. Fry in hot oil at about 370° until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Serves 6.

Thursday, January 24

Soundtrack and Reading Challenges 2013

In this post: Booking Through Thursday and Thursday Thirteen

Do you ever try to pair music with the book you’re reading? Play the movie soundtrack while reading the original book? Find mood music that fits with your story?
Music is one love of my life that's rather separate from reading. The only time the two were together was when I provided (played) piano music to a reading in church long time ago. If I played a soundtrack while reading the original book my impulse would be to try to listen to the music while concentrating on the reading and I can not do both so it's a no for all three questions. I can multi-task in 3 different languages and 2 dialects, but music and reading at the same time is my limit.

Thursday 13: Reading Challenges 
I am having fun browsing reading challenges around. I am focusing in only one right now, the Just For Fun Reading Challenge, and I know I can not do all of these, but I can't help putting a list together. They look so much fun, yes, just when I need to sort out stock market stuff they all pop up; the temptation is tough. Anyway, details, rules, gift certificates and sign-ups are on the links. 

1. A-Z  "Simply read a book for each letter of the alphabet, using the book title."

2. Around the World  You 'read books that take place around the globe, has scenes set in different countries, or whose author is from a different country. Use each country only once.'

3 Winter Wonderland Spell  Main feature of this challenge looks like a game, and I like that. It directs you to "pick a word relating to winter and use the acronym to choose the books you'll be reading this month. One book for each letter. The length of the word you choose will determine your challenge level. You can use the book title, author, or series name." This is an example they showed on their site:

Use one of these or come up with your own!:
Cold, Snow, Sleigh, Winter, Freezing, Snowman, Wonderland

C- The Crossing by Joy Nash
O- Point Of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
L- Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione
D- The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

4. Debut Author makes me curious; interesting this one

5. Outdo Yourself  is reading more books than you did last year!

6. The Embarrassment of Riches "encourages you to read books in your To Be Read (TBR) pile that you owned prior to January 1, 2013."  This challenge will do my books some good. I buy each one of them.

7. Foodies "decide how many food books you would like to read during 2013. A food book is a book that is centered around food and/or drinks. This could be a cookbook, a food biography or memoir, or a non-fiction book focused around a specific food, wine, chef or restaurant. You can also include fictional stories in which food plays a major role." I'm considering this since I'm fond of eating.

8. Operation Deepen Faith  "is a wonderful challenge that offers several options for deepening your faith! Again, there are no strict guidelines or commitments to make – choose what you like then delve in. This is an awesome challenge for anyone who is serious about growing in their faith!" Ah... I'll pass this to Mama.

9. Off the Shelf "encourages you to read the books off your own shelves (2012 or earlier) that have gone unread for too long." Aha, I have several of those books. The dusty ones on the shelf.

10. Nerdy Non-fiction  I'm no nerd but this should be convenient for me. Loads of non-fiction at my fingertips. There's a list of non-fiction categories on the link. They encourage you to read a minimum number of books in at least 2 to 3 categories. It will be nice if they have Anthropology, Archeology, Forensic Psychology or any of Stephen Hawking books.

11. What an Animal  encourages you to read at least 6 books that have an animal in the book title, animal on the book cover, an animal that plays a major role in the book and the main character as an (or turns into)  animal.

12. The Classics "the point of this challenge is to read at least ONE classic novel in 2013." Sounds easy peasy to me. I got many classics after all.

13. Eclectic this one has an aim to push you outside your comfort zone by reading up to 12 books during the year from 12 different categories. I have been eyeing this challenge since 2012 but it looks like I'm going to pass 2013 as I struggle with Dystopian, Urban Fantasy or LGBT, and they're part of the requirements. Maybe for 2014 then.

Friday, January 18

Halibut karaage

Usually eating out alone, I'm a fan of set meals.  And of fish. And of Japanese cuisine. This is one of my recent brunches at Zen. It includes rice, miso soup, noodle cheese salad, Zen soy sauce and kiimchi.

Karaage is described by Wikipedia as "Japanese cooking technique in which various foods — most often meat and fish — are deep fried in oil. Small pieces of the food are marinated in a mix of soy sauce, garlic, and/or ginger, then lightly coated with a seasoned wheat flour or potato starch mix, and fried in a light oil — similar to the preparation of tempura."

I found this recipe from Feeding my Ohana. I'm attracted to the sherry in this recipe.

3-4 mahi mahi fillets or other white fish                  Sherry 
1T sugar                                                                1t curry powder
2T cornstarch (or potato starch)                             1T shoyu
1 egg scrambled with a little water                         Panko and Canola oil

Mix sugar, curry powder, shoyu, cornstarch and sherry. Marinate for about 30 minutes. Dip in scrambled egg and then dredge in panko. Fry in oil until golden brown. Flip once. Drain on paper towels.

Monday, January 14

Ambling along Asiatique

Perhaps the easiest, fastest and most cost-effective way to reach Asiatique is to take the BTS (sky train) to Saphan Taksin and then the free shuttle boat. This was my first visit and as I observed the surrounding sights I took this shot smiling to myself, 'Bangkok has a London Eye.'

When I was little I always wanted a ferris wheel ride, but the overprotective parents insisted a merry-go-round should be enough fun. Yesterday I thought, 'hmn... this time no parents watching like a hawk. What if I'd try? I kept moving toward it but changed my mind upon seeing too many kids queuing at the base.

Ah well... finding a fountain while ambling along isn't so bad

and the shop mascots are cute.

The temperature went down with the sun so I was happy watching business going on. It is what I love about night markets.

Asiatique is part attraction, part shopping. It has many restaurants, several alfresco dining, lots of international cuisine, and the Thai Calypso cabaret show

Goods are more expensive than those in say, Jatujak or MBK. But fine by me. I didn't buy anything except dinner :)

Asiatique business hours: 17:00 - midnight
Address: 2194 Charoenkrung Road 72-74, Wat Phraya Krai, Bangkolaem

Richard Barrow, one of Thailand's most influential bloggers has concise historical description of Asiatique on his Thailand Photo Map site.

Bangkok Post, one of (two) Thailand's major English newspapers, featured an article regarding Asiatique's pricing issues - something foreigners who are visiting for the first time may want to be aware of.    

Thursday, January 10

Bonjour pastries

Since watching Chocolat, I can't get 'patiserrie' off my mind.  The idea sounds even delicious with the way  Vianne (Juliette Binoche) enunciates the word. As I checked showtimes for Les Miserables in a mall on Wednesday, I passed by Bonjour and was reminded of things French and that I haven't had Bonjour goodies in awhile. So I picked some of my favorites: the coconut twist, the tiny muffins - banana, chocolate and pineapple; brownie, raisin cinnamon roll, cashew nut stick and chocolate stick.

There are three things I like about Bonjour pastries: milk is richly evident, sweetness is just right for my taste and cashew nut toppings are abundant enough. The only thing which was a bit off to me was that I could hardly taste or smell any cinnamon in the so-called cinnamon roll, but other than that, everything else is yummy as always.


In this post: Booking Through Thursday and Thursday Thirteen

Do you like to give books as gifts?
I do, but the whole process can be complicated for many reasons. It's great if I knew what book would be appreciated or wanted or loved. I gifted two nephews a book each once and luckily they liked it, and read it which was inspiring to me. I think a gift certificate to a bookstore is a nice gift for a book lover.

Thursday 13: Quotes from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I didn't know about the book then, nor the film. This was random shopping but I bought the DVD in a snap when I read it had something to do with books.

1. “Perhaps the story in the book is just the lid on a pan: It always stays the same, but underneath there's a whole world that goes on - developing and changing like our own world.”

2.“Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn't ask for anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.”

3. "When you open the book it's like going to the theatre. First you see the curtain. Then it's pulled aside and the show begins.”

4. “Books are like flypaper, memories cling to the printed pages better than anything else.”

5.  “The book she had been reading was under her pillow, pressing its cover against her ear as if to lure her back into its printed pages.”

6.  “The book was spinning a magic spell around her heart, sticky as a spider's web and enchantingly beautiful.”

7.  “You know what they say: When people start burning books they'll soon burn human beings.”

8.  “She always did like tales of adventure-stories full of brightness and darkness. She could tell you the names of all King Arthur's knights, and she knew everything about Beowulf and Grendel, the ancient gods and the not-quite-so-ancient heroes. She liked pirate stories, too, but most of all she loved books that had at least a knight or a dragon or a fairy in them. She was always on the dragon's side by the way.”

9.  “What on earth have you packed in here? Bricks?" asked Mo as he carried Meggie's book-box out of the house.

10. “It's a good idea to have your own books with you in a strange place”

11.  “There was another reason [she] took her books whenever they went away. They were her home when she was somewhere strange.

12.  “Sometimes it's a good thing we don't remember things half as well as books do.”

13.   “The books in Mo and Meggie's house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of the rooms. There where books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory. Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new. They welcomed Meggie down to breakfast with invitingly opened pages; they kept boredom at bay when the weather was bad. And sometimes you fall over them.”

Monday, January 7


Zen is a Japanese restaurant with several branches scattered in Bangkok. This one is in Central Mall, Bangna.

While I was waiting for my food they started putting these on my table

I love Japanese cuisine but I rarely go to Zen and I'm not planning to come back soon. I brunched here last week for only one thing - their crispy fried karaage. And if I ever visit again it would only be to satisfy the curiosity of dining in their mezzanine. I liked the ceiling of autumn red leaves though.

Zen has several positive reviews. But some complain that their steak arrived cold, and took too long to be served. I found what they were talking about when I came last week but didn't mind because I wasn't hungry and John Grisham is such a riveting storyteller. I did mind the fly that fluttered on the teacup. Bummer.

Zen Central Bangna is on the ground floor toward the end of the mall on your left if you get in from the main entrance. Prices are average. I paid around US$15 for a set meal and a dessert, no drinks; taxes included.

Value **  Atmosphere ***  Service ***  Food **

ABCW - Our World - Blue Monday

Thursday, January 3


In this post: Booking Through Thursday and Thursday Thirteen

"Any reading resolutions for the new year? Reading more? (Reading less?) Reading better books? Bigger books? More series? More relaxing books? And hey, feel free to talk about any other resolutions you might have, too … or why you choose NOT to have any."
To try a few changes on my reading habit, I'm attempting a reading challenge this year for the first time ever.  I need to control leisure reading.  It's why papers (upgrading stuff) I work on suffer a drag, and if I don't discipline myself I might as well say goodbye to PhD. There should be less 'talking back' to books this year. I react on margins as if I have all the time for that thus I don't get to read as many books as I wish in a year. Finally, I'll try NOT to buy books I'm not sure I'll read in their entirety.

The truth is I'm not actually keen on resolutions, even outside the reading life. So if I can't fulfill any this year I'll amuse myself with one draped on a mug, shared by Book Riot on FB - New Year's resolution? Curse like Shakespeare and rhyme like Dr Seuss.

Thursday 13: Books I'm lining up for the JUST FOR FUN READING CHALLENGE 2013

1. Blandings Castle by P.G. Wodehouse
2. Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter
3. Assassination: political murder through the ages by Xavier Waterkeyn
4. Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
5. The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene
6. Pelican Brief by John Grisham
7. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason
8. Honour Among Thieves by Jeffrey Archer
9. Timeline by Michael Chrighton
10. Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
11. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
12. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
13. Pure and Untouched by Barbara Cartland
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