Makes Me Smile

This week I made a quiche. I'm not exactly sure why—maybe I was craving 1970s food, maybe I was scrounging for dinner in an empty-Monday-night fridge. Whatever the reason, it was delicious. And, then I started thinking...somewhere along the way quiche got a bad rap as a soggy-bottomed rubbery pie served to ladies who lunch. The version I made with a buttery crust, carmelized onions, and lots of cheese was anything but. And, the gooey, yellow golden centre definitely made me smile.

What made you smile this week? 
XOXO, Paige

by Arts Contributor Heather Riley, Diva Productions

For the next few weeks Elton John is hosting weekly concerts from archival footage to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Streaming right now is the 1995 concert at Estadio Do Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Upcoming Concerts:
1 August Release: Madison Square Garden, NYC, from 2000
8 August Release: The Great Ampitheatre, Ephesus, Turkey, from 2001


Light-Up the National Gallery

For those in Singapore: Looking for something to do with the family after dinner? In conjunction with Singapore’s 55th birthday celebrations in August 2020, the National Gallery Singapore will be lighting up the front of the building with a changing rotating projection, from 24 July to 30 August 2020. Take a walk along the Padang to catch the lights.

Create a Bedroom Sanctuary

Creating a bedroom sanctuary to relax, have a good night's sleep, or snuggle up with a loved one is necessary to nourish your soul. We asked Visha Nelson from the Cinnamon Room for some bedroom styling tips.

I love traveling and staying in my favourite hotels abroad. Since I'm not travelling these days, I created some easy tips to get that luxe feeling right at home. When you take a little time to create a sanctuary space, you'll always have a happy place to retreat.

A tall upholstered headboard adds so much character to a bedroom, invest in one to rest against for a softer, luxurious feeling.

Linens & Pillows. Dress your bed in clean, crisp, white sheets and linens. Then add cushions to make it more stylish and inviting to climb into for a good night's rest.

Rug. A rug perfectly frames the bed and adds a little touch of rich texture to your floors. Choose a light coloured rug against darker floors or a darker rug on lighter floors to make it stand out.

Lighting. Ambient bedside lighting does the trick to create cosy spaces. If you have a tall headboard dare to go big with your bedside lamps.

Tables. Side tables with storage keep your bed area neat and uncluttered—essential for a better night’s sleep.


Music Improves Everything

For more great tunes, click here.
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Bubbling with Enthusiasm for Champagne

After falling in love with champagne a few years ago, Kathleen Moroney attained her dream job as the Singapore Brand Ambassador for Laurent-Perrier Champagnes. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! We asked her to explain the difference between sparkling wines like Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, and French Champagne. 

Over the years I've enjoyed many different types of sparkling wines. And, like a lot of people, as long as they were served cold I thought they were pretty good. But, when I tasted Laurent-Perrier it all was my Champagne ah-ha moment! I set out on a quest to understand why this Champagne tasted so amazingly different and have spent years on a journey of joyful discovery.

So what is the difference between all the types of sparkling wines? Well, a lot, actually.
Location. Only wine made in the Champagne region of France, using the three varieties of grapes from their accredited vineyards, undergoing strictly controlled processes, can be called Champagne. Centuries of nurturing the vines, refining the growing methods, developing closely guarded secrets of blending, and ageing each bottle to perfection create a sparkling wine of the very highest quality and craftsmanship.

Other sparkling wines, Cava and Prosecco for instance, have no such restrictions, on how they are made or what they are made from, so cost usually plays a big role in production.

Grapes. Champagne can only be made from three different grapes—Chardonnay to give it the elegance and fruity notes; Pinot Noir to give it body, and Pinot Meunier to give it structure and balance. Chardonnay is an expensive grape, if sparkling wine producers use it at all, they may not use much.

Aging. Champagne must be aged for a minimum of 15 months in the bottle, but sparkling wine has no restrictions.

Fermentation. Champagne production requires two fermentations. The first sets raw juice in a large vat where the natural sugar is fermented out. About six months later the result is an acidic still wine that is then given over to the artistry of the expert wine maker—the Chef de Cave as they are called in Champagne.
The Chef de Cave assembles the juices in varying proportions to achieve the character that forms the base of the Champagne. Yeast and a varying amount of sugar liqueur is then added to the mixture and bottled. The yeast elevates the simple wine to that special Champagne place. The bottles are set in racks at a 75-degree angle with the bottom tilted upwards. Small chalk marks are placed on the base and every two weeks each bottle is turned, by hand (!), one-eighth of a rotation until the fermentation process is complete. This allows the residue from the yeast, which converts the sugar into alcohol (and those bubbles we all love), to fall into the neck of the bottle. 
When the Chef de Cave decides they are ready, these bottles are dipped, neck down, into a freezing bath that causes the yeast sediment to freeze in the neck of the bottle. In a process called disgorgement, the temporary cap is popped off and the ‘plug’ of frozen sediment shoots out completing the second fermentation.

Finishing Touches. Dosage, a final topping up of the bottle comes next. And, it is this tiny, last addition of wine that determines the level of sweetness of the champagne. 
Lastly, the bottles are ‘corked and caged’ and laid to rest in the cellars until they are deemed ready to go to market.
The next time you open a bottle of Champagne with it’s enthusiastic cork pop and feel the celebratory dance of bubbles in your mouth, I hope you’ll imagine the craftsmanship that’s gone into making it.

Read more about the Chef de Cave and champagne craftsmanship.

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by Cynthia Owens

Tash Aw captures all the senses in Map of The Invisible World. You can smell, taste and feel Southeast Asia.

Read it with the Gamelan Orchestra of the Yogyakarta Royal Palace playing in the background, while sipping a Gin & Tonic under a blazing summer sun. 

Plastic-Free is Easier than You Think

by Eliza Fry

July is Plastic Free Month. This month millions of people around the world took up the challenge to say, “NO!” to single use plastic. A harmful pollutant that's hard to break down and stays in our environment for thousands of year. Plastics have even entering our food chain and our bodies. A WWF study found that on average people could be ingesting 5 grams of plastic each week—the weight of one credit card!
Like with any Little Green Step, reducing your use of plastic is simple, and small steps make a big impact. Start with one of these suggestions.
Get Your Plastic-Free Sparkle On
Did you know that most glitter is made out of microplastics? These microplastics are too small for household drains to filter and end up in our waterways. Once the glitter gets into the water animals mistake the small particles for food and this in turn gets into our food chain. Companies like BioGlitz and ecoglitter selling biodegradable glitter sprung from the global backlash against glitter companies.

Bring A Reusable Water Bottle
Carrying a reusable water bottle, is the easiest way to reduce your plastic usage. In a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, you can consider it a fashion accessory that does good for the planet.

Carry a Reusable Straw
Once you begin carrying reusable straws you realise just how many you use. On average, every American uses 1.6 straws a day. Compostable straws are a good alternative, but they still produce waste. Reusable straws are an effective way to get rid of this waste. 

Use Reusable Grocery and Produce Bags
Reusable grocery bags are one of the most popular forms of reducing single use plastic. Now a global phenomenon, a 2018 UN study found that 127 countries now regulate the use of plastic bags. The many benefits include durability and discounts for bringing your own bag. Level-up and carry reusable produce bags to further reduce waste. 
Shop at Stores that Encourage Plastic Reduction
Popular stores like Lush Cosmetics and Scoop Wholefoods are committed to reducing plastics. Lush created package-free bar shampoos and lotions—the shampoo bars alone save nearly 6 million plastic bottles a year. 

Zero waste grocery stores are on the rise. Scoop Wholefoods encourages customers to bring their own containers rather than buying products with single use plastic packaging. To date, Scoop has saved over 13 million plastic bags from landfills. 

About me: I'm a writer, obsessive reader, mother, wife and one half of the marketing team known as Chop Chop.  I love to travel and explore new places, but hate to plan trips. I strive to be a good friend and a great home cook. My friends tease me about my germaphobia and being's all good. 
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