Birthday Project.

For special occasions, instead of buying a gift I prefer to make something. It adds a personal touch to the gift without the receiver being overwhelmed. Also, it is a great alternative when you simply don’t know what to give the person, or when you don’t know the person well enough to give truly personal gift.

For me, it gives me a chance to let out my creative side so it’s a win win.

It was time for me to put my creativity hat on and get to work. As certain special someone‘s birthday was around the corner. Luckily, I already knew what I wanted to give him. To give credit where it’s due, I happened across this video while I was scrolling through Facebook.


Screenshot of the video.

It was a video of how to make a sweets dispenser.

The moment I saw it, a light bulb went in my head! Though there were few things that made me cringe, so it needed some tweaking. So I rolled up my sleeve and got to work.



Of course, the end product looked a little different from that, but the idea was there. The things that didn’t sit well with me the most is what the original video used as the “glass box” I could see it warping and I couldn’t have that. Also, the edges where the “thickness” of the material showed bothered me too. The material they used for the base, (no clue what it’s called in English) wasn’t the most sturdy material one could find.

So off I went to a stationery store.

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I chose 3mm thick cardboard as my bottom half material, I had visualised the cutting pattern beforehand to make sure I get one with enough surface area. Initial idea was to have as few as possible sides to glue, (which didn’t quite turn out as planned). The store had a station where you could do some work on your material, as I didn’t own a metre long ruler, it was quite handy.


Me at work, a friend of mine took that…. don’t ask about the pinky.

I did all the “big” cut at the store and came home to do fine tuning.

I started with the lid, which turned out to be a brilliant idea as my pre-planning had a major flaw. As the original video had rather dissatisfying corners, I wanted mine to overlap in such a way that the sides didn’t meet at the corner and leave a indentation. So measuring one side “longer” by the thickness of the material was a good call, but I had gone one step too far by making the adjacent 3mm shorter. So the joining side didn’t even come close to meeting. Since I had spare bits this was easily fixed. May not have been the case if I started with the bottom half and then realised my mistake.


Next was the bottom half. Where most work went in.

While working with the big part,  I realised my initial idea of “folding” the sides wasn’t going to work. Because the material was quite thick, it just looked so messy, I had to cut into most of the thickness so it would actually fold, and that resulted in it falling after few folding and unfolding while I worked on it.

As I had planned to cover the whole things with a adhesive decorative paper, I was not to upset about it falling off, nothing a combination of masking tape and super glue couldn’t fix. Next was working on the front of the dispenser.

I worked on graph paper, to make sure the layout worked. and then used that as a guide to cut grooves onto the cardboard, and then set to work. When it was all done, I realised the massive mis-planning on my part. As I wasn’t doing the “corner ears” as the original video and using a thicker, somewhat heavier material for the “glass box” I wanted the top part to sit in at least few centimetres into the base for support. (originally planned to be about 5cm). Plus I wanted the “divier” of the top and bottom to sit at an angle towards the front so the sweets are guided to where the “dispensing gap” will be.

As you can see in the picture, there is barely 3 cm above the where the dial would go in. Which would not be enough space to work with. It need some major dimension changes. I first thought of making just another front piece with dial a little lower, and the space to get the sweets a little smaller. But then my much of muchness, as my best friend calls it, got the better of me and I made some dimensional changes and cut out all new sides.


New sides and base

 The top 3 are the left side, bottom and the left side. Bottom two makes the front and the back. The original dimensions were 21x21x15. It seemed a height of 15cm looked a little small, so I took it up to be 20cm. While this was happening, I worked on the base of the inside, I wanted the bottom of the inside to be at level with where I have cut out the gap for the coins and sweets. (again much of my muchness). On the front the two rectangles were cut 1.5m off the bottom edge, so made a base coming up 1.5cm. 


This was mainly made by all the spare bits. Not wasting any parts. So I wanted to see how it all looked, roughly put together


Do you see it?

Another mistake, I forgot about the 3mm from the bottom of the whole base, and also the 3mm from the top of the inner base I was adding on. After some nip and tuck


It’s at level.


WIth the new dimension box.

Between that step and the next few, I neglected to take photos. I was eager to get the project done.


As you can see, there is plenty space above the dial with the new front. I also made the opening for the sweets smaller, though tested with men’s hands to make sure you get enough space to grab a sweet or two that drops. (I could fit my whole hand and forearm through there). I lined the inside with crepe paper, wasn’t about to leave it boring cream colour of the cardboard. The choice of colour wasn’t intentional. The crepe paper accessible to me at the time just happened to be red. You can also see the divider is definitely at an angle, too.


Birds Eye View

Though as the crepe paper is fragile, it was damaged during last few steps, I did patch them where it would show. The divider in the “middle”is so that the sweets don’t go to the “coin”side, initially I was planning on making a small box to catch the money. Also, would have cut out fake coins out of scrap cardboard that I thought would be a cute idea to ‘gift’ the receiver as you see fit. (if it was for children, then as a reward for chores etc) but trying to cut a perfect-ish circles out of 3mm thick cardboard was a no joke… I put a hole on that cute idea.

The dial got an extra piece at the back to hold it where it supposed to stay, so it’s not constantly moving all over the place as you turn it, though extra 3mm wasn’t much. I wanted to add a middle piece for extra support but that is in the patch 1.5. (which is still yet to happen, shhh) also the little thin bars you see in all four sides is there to support the divider. The top of the bottom piece and bottom of the top piece. Where the VIP (or VIS) sweets seats.


Like so.

I didn’t get the chance to photograph the workings with plexiglass. As I didn’t own any laser cutters or big tools. I went with scoring and snapping to cut the plexi glass. My friend helped me by landing a manly strength. Though, it doesn’t require a lot of strength, I thought I rather be safe than sorry.

I also had to buy special glue for plexi, which turned out to be more challenging then anticipated as nobody in the hardware store spoke English, or was willing to even try to understand what it is that I was looking for. (I live in Munich, Germany) I would usually ask the certain special someone for help with anything German, but as this was to be a surprise and I didn’t want him wondering why I was in a hardware store and figuring out I was up to something, I had to get creative.

At the end, all worked well. A last trip to a grocery store to buy the important stuffs!


I really thought I had enough sweets.

2 to 3 bags of sweets later, I was sure I had enough…. The downside of my new dimensions was that the end product turned out to be a monstrosity!



It really went against my nature to do a crappy wrapping, but I wanted to look as hazardously wrapped as possible, as if not much care went in at all.


The best gift wrapping of the century.

I think I managed. The receiver struggled to find a way to unwrap though, (ha ha) I used double sides scotch tape to put the whole thing together, so that may have been why. The reaction was all I could ask for, as “Where did you find one?” was the response. When your DIY project passes as a store bought product, I count that as a compliment. It made all the effort and over engineering from my muchness worth it!

Food-venturous week.

I love cooking. There was a time I considered pursuing the culinary career. I enjoy trying new recipes, but when you lack the audience it is difficult to excite myself enough to cook something new.

Though past week has been a great one for my creative side.I was cooking for fun, not because I had to, which does add to the enjoyment factor.

on Thursday 13th, I invited some friends over for Thursday Taco madness. There was total of four people, myself included.Three of four were men with healthy apetite. SO I got to cooking..


1kg minced beef

YES, whole kilo of meat to feed just four people.


For the Taco I decided to make chilli con carne. This is the first time I made it from scratch. I am generally against using things that reads just add this packet and water! Yes, it works great in a pinch, it tastes alright most of the time but I have trouble calming I cooked when I use those things.

I am the kind of person who’d opt to boil a whole chicken to make chicken stock to make Chicken à la King.

Anyhoo, only down side of this evening was that i was so hungry by the time my friends came, I forgot all about taking photo of end result.


This happens more often then I would like to admit. I can’t think when I am hungry.

Moving onto Friday, I made Mille-feuille Nabe. It’s basically a fusion Japanese hot pot. In French, Mille-feuille means thousands leaves ind Nabe refers to the Japanese hot pot.


You can see where Thousand Leaves come in. It’s often that the centre is taken up by some fancy cut out shitake mushrooms. (couldn’t find any fresh ones) I love mushrooms but shitake would be my least favourite and being in Germany, there is some shortage to finding what is common in Asia.

In Korea, sesame leaves are often used in cooking, so to make up the thousand leaves you would layer Chinese cabbage (picture below), meat of choice, sesame leaf and repeat. Then you cut them in thirds or quarters depending on the size of your pot. You want them just as high as your pot.



One thing about cooking alone, is that after a while you get lazy washing your hands between every photo or more often that I get carried away with the cooking and forget to take photos completely. Scatter brain I tell you. So those photos are from good old Google.

I went with outer edges to the middle approach while packing  my food but if from centre to the edge works for you, then that’s the way it works. All you need to do is pack it tight. To the point you wonder how will I ever get the food out. The reason is that cabbage wilts, so if you pack it loosely the thousand leaves may not hold as it cooks.

As for the stock, I used dashi stock. You only wat to fill the pot half-way or so and see how it goes as it cooks, as all the vegerable will release water. Should have taken a photo of finished product but yet again, my brain saw food and my hands, mouth and stomach went to work.

On MONDAY, I made a Korean dish. Kimchi and boiled pork belly. It’s called Bossam in Korean, the direct translation would result in water-pork. I made kimchi with what was left of nappa cabbage from Friday.


It’s not the most traditional kimchi, as I had to tweak a little to do without the ingredients I couldn’t find, but end result, still delicious kimchi.


I see the focus a little off.

Pork belly was boiled for about one hour and a half. It’s more or less of a guesstimate. You prick the pork with a chopstick (which isn’t sharp) and it doesn’t give much resistance, it is ready. In the pot ingredients such as onions, spring onions, pepper corns, bay leaf, ginger, soybean paste and/or wine goes in for the flavour as well as to be rid of the smell pork tend to have. This time around what I had on hand was, onions, pepper corns, bay leaf and red wine. I also added green tea bags and let it seep for 2 to 3 minutes and took it out. You don’t want to leave that in too long, else things will get bitter.



After I miraculously remember to take a photo, my SO and I went OM NOM NOM.

I had another cooking-venture I wanted to add but this post is already getting too long. If anyone wants the recipe and not in the mood for Googling, let me know!

Ray out.

A new tradition…


Apparently I am creating a new tradition for myself. Whenever I am in a new country I ought to mess up a public transport experience.

Lost and Confused Signpost

So here I was returning to my place from my bestie’s apartment… there are few routes I can take but at the end of the day it needs to involve an U-bahn, an underground train(?).

This day I thought,”Hmm let me go on a different route”.  (what was I thinking?)


The map of U-Bahn tracks.

I needed to get on the U6 line. The blue one. I would have usually gotten on Partnaschplatz and then just enjoy the ride ALL THE WAY to Garching (one station before the end of the line).

As I said, I decided to be a little different, by getting on a different bus to shorten the bus ride. I would have had to get on the U6 at Holzapfelkreuth (and NO I cannot say that without getting my tongue twisted).

Being somewhat confident of the transportation system, I was reading a book while listening to music. So naturally I missed the bus stop I had to get off to be on U6. A stop or two after I realised I missed my stop was Laimer Platz, which is on a U5. It wasn’t the worst, as I wasn’t on any schedule and I just needed to change trains at Odeonsplatz.

When you are standing at the platform, there is a little screen that displays some information such as the line number of next few trains that are coming in, (if there is more than one kind) which direction it is going, by the means of displaying the end station and how long till the train arrives.

Here is the catch, German trains don’t always have the very last station on the line as the end station. You usually need to check on the information screen to see where its end station is. I was convinced that the screen said Garching Forschungszentrum so I got on the train and then just relaxed. Cause it is a long ride.

Oh boy was I wrong. The end station for the train I was on turns out to be Alte Heide which is nowhere near to where I need to be. First I did not hear the announcement letting the passenger know that it had arrived at an end station and I was so into my book I did not notice EVERYONE getting out of the train. By the time I had realised the doors has closed and the trains tarted moving again.

At this moment I am remembering all the stories I have heard of some drunken people being stuck on the train for three days because they didn’t get off at the end station. The train was moving, it was going to the place where trains go to sleep!

In my panic I did only thing anyone could do. I pressed the itercom button to talk to the conductor of the train. I said “I am sorry, I forgot to get off the train” and of course, the conductor replies in German and hangs up. So at this point for all I know he just said, “There is nothing I can do. You are stuck there”. (Why is it logical to answer someone in a language different to the question asked?)

Anyway, luckily that was not the case. I happened to be on the rare-end of the train, which then the conductor stopped the train to walk back into the driver section on now-the-front cart. He told me to my face then that the train is turning around (technically already turend around) to go back to the last station to start its journey back up the U6 line in 5 minutes. (In English, so it wasn’t as if he couldn’t speak it)

After all that, I got on the right train, made sure the end station was Garching Forschungszentrum, and calmed my nervous. I was still listening to music, now to calm myself, so I was a little conpuzzled when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It turns out, we had to change to a different train at Kieferngarten. I was grateful for the young man who had enough sense to let the poor oblivious girl know that she had to get off the train. After that I manage to get home without any further disruptions.


Hopefully, this will be the last of my unplanned adventures, well the not-so-fun kind anyway!!

Vierzehnheiligen Basilika.

So, last weekend, (Yes, I am a whole week late with this post shhh!) I went to another Christmas Market in Lichtenfels. I mean it’s a Christmas market It’s a seasonal thing, so might as well visit all I can when I can right?

On the way to the Lichtenfels Christmas market I made a stop at the Vierzehnheiligen Basilika (Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers) It was on the way to christmas market. Apparently, the basilica is one the most popular places of pilgrimage in Germany.

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Someone told me that the sunlight hits the church better in summer, illuminating it in its glorious colours. I was going camera crazy in the church to, looking like the ever so typical tourist.

As you walk in, your vision sensors are overwhelmed with mixture of white, gold and all the other colours in between. In the middle there was an altar depicting the fourteen holy helpers, I tried my best to capture all fourteen of them in various pictures, but I am not sure how well I succeeded. Shiny things distract me…and there were lots of SHINY stuff!!

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There was also a framed written work describing where each of the Fourteen Helpers were located on the structure. Of course all in German. Google translate was working extra hard.


The high altar of the Vierzehnheiligen


The high altar of the Vierzehnheiligen

Isn’t this magnificent? The painting was colossal. I nearly broke my back trying to get the whole picture into the camera.

There were also these:

Makes one wonder how much of extreme hard work went into painting these when I am getting a backache just trying to take photos of it. Just mind blowing.

The basilica sits on top of a hill, easily visible from the road below. It overlooks the river Main. Opposite the basilica there is Schloss Banz, former Benedictine monastery.

After a short look about I headed to the Christmas Market

A story hidden in every corner.


View from my window.

Waking up to that, how could I not reach for my camera as soon as I get out of bed! After taking a moment to appreciate the view, I welcomed the third morning in Germany with a glorious cup of latte!  I consider myself more of a tea person, but I could get used to this a cup of coffee in the morning business!

Leaving the house, walking through the front door is as if I opened a door to a new dimension. It’s an adventure in its own more so than it ever was when I was in Australia. Road signs I can’t even begin to pronounce, driving on the right side of the road, not hearing any English 99% of the time etc. I now have even more respect for people who come to Korea for whatever reason. How daunting it must be to surround oneself in completely new … EVERYTHING. But of course, there is definite sense of excitement towards the said new everything.

One of the reasons, I was excited about coming to Europe was that

Continue reading “A story hidden in every corner.”

The Adventure #2 – The flight: first meal.

After near an hour of delay, could have been a little more… I can’t be sure cause I fell asleep waiting for the plane to take off. I felt it move on the runway, I was thinking I will be awake for the moment it takes off, yet the next time I opened my eyes the plane was already in the sky. (I guess I was tired).

I was stricken with sudden tiredness so between dozing off and waking up, it was time for the first meal.

I have read few reviews on Aeroflot along with some other airlines I was looking into getting a ticket for, so at this current moment the reviews are a little mixed up in my head but I think I have read some negative review in regards to food. But, I always keep general rule for thumbs that plane food is always bad. If it’s edible than you’re pleasantly surprised and if it’s good than I consider myself very lucky. Continue reading “The Adventure #2 – The flight: first meal.”

Weekend fast – day 4.

Yesterday, I entered the “recovery” days. It is usually recommend you have 1.5 to 5 times more days than the fasting days for your recovery. I’ve just decided 3 days.

Recovery is to slowly get your stomach used to working again. As I’ve mentioned before my diet this time consisted of heavily Asian based items.

So for breakfast I had a bowl of congee. It’s basically rice cooked with alot more water than normal. So basically like a rice porridge. The actual rice used would barely yield a 1/3 bowl of normally cooked rice. The rice I used is short grain rice. Commonly known as sushi rice. In Korea that is the norm. We don’t really eat the fluffy long grain rice.

Breakfast – 1 bowl of rice porridge.

For lunch, I had similar to breakfast but with bit of vegetables.

Raw ingredients.

I’ve used little bit of brocolli, carrots and onions. You can just blend them and add to the porridge but I wanted some texture. The rice has been soaking for a while too.

Yes, lots of water.

You would never put that much water making normal rice with amount of rice I’ve used. I added another bowl of water using the dish the rice was in. Probably about 750ml?

All cooked.

You bring it to boil on high heat and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer (closed). You need to man the stove the whole time so it doesn’t stick and burn. Stirring occasionally is a must. I didn’t time how long I cooked it. You just cook it till most of the water is gone.


The final product. I also had another portion leftover for tomorrow. I didn’t omit the step of seasoning. There is no seasoning at all. So it’s not as tasty as it could be but baby steps.

Dinner I had 1/3 bowl of rice. Brown rice was recommended but I had adlay.

One portion of white fish is recommended. I couldn’t get the fish I was looking for so I had the next best thing. I bought Japanese Spanish Mackerel. (Google dictionary says).

It was amount of food I would have never been full with before the fast. But at the end of dinner I felt bloated. I went for a walk (brisk walk) because for one I’ve been doing it all through the fast and two I suddenly felt worried that this meal would set me back a few days.

During the last days of fast, I’d told my mom I don’t think I could do this again. But last night I had a change of mind. I happened to have caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror in my birthday suit. There was a noticeable change! I could tell my belly has gotten leaner! I was so happy 🙂

Though this morning the weight hasn’t dropped compared to yesterday since I had eaten more food. But let’s hope I can keep the weight I’ve lost…just that lost with exercise.

Weekend fasting – Day 1

Breakfast and lunch today. The detox shake. The taste was alot more pleasant than I expected.

I didn’t quite measure the ingredients down to the grams or anything. Recommended measures are 100g each of every ingredient and 800ml water to boil the veggies. And that makes four servings of 200ml each.

Since I am replacing my meals with this I drank a little more than 200ml but definitely not more than 500ml.

Anyway, for me the taste started with the refreshing apple flavour and sort of ended with brocolli. 😆 It was also kind of fun to try and pick out the taste.

Throughtout the day I had to use my self control to the max as voices inside my head kept calling me to the dark side…that is eating. Since it’s a fast eating is not good. Situation would have been a little different if it were just eating healthily.

For dinner I had tofu. I know quite alot of people have hatred for it. Most of people I know that hates it has never even tried it so I don’t get their hatred. Also some they have tried it or they think they have, but for me tofu bought on the shleves of a pantry items section at a market is just wrong. I wouldn’t even eat that. (And I like tofu). I am also aware there’s specially preserved tofu-dish (?) that can be stored for longer periods of time. I am not talking about those. Anyhoo, living in Korea I have abundant access to freshly made tofu or similar.

Though tofu without anything isn’t the most appealing but it’s for weight-loss and the fast. I can be a little more lenient and allow some sauce/flavour once the fast is over. I used a kid spoon to force myself to eat even slower.

The day ended with a brisk walk. Probably about 50 mins. More than recommended (20-30 mins) but I wouldn’t mind shedding off few extra pounds at the end of this fast. (Also did 3x20squats for good measure😂).

It’s 9p.m and I am in bed… good amount of sleep is part of a good diet/weight-loss but it’s also beneficial since you’re not awake to feel the hunger lol.

So… Ray off…

Adventure #2 – Preparation

Apart from the usual prep of visa application, which needs to have part 2. (going back to the embassy after fixing errors). Another preparation is HEALTH.

I made a mistake of not caring about medical insurance when I went to Australia. (I usually don’t get sick all that often). So about 80% of my first few income was medical bills. I would have gotten a insurance the second time around but Germany also has the insurance coverage as a part of requirements.

With illness, prevention is the best tactic. So, before I go off to Germany there will be few visit to different specialists to make sure I am at prime health (Optometrist, dentist, etc).

As a prelude to getting my health in order, I have started a weekend fast. As a detox and a jump start for weight loss. I do not believe in diets that just eats less or so called “one food” diets. So this is not me just starving myself to decrease the number that appears on the scale, but as I said to jump start it. The goal would be to keep the weight I have lost through a weekend fast by exercising and being mindful of what and how much I eat.

It’s called weekend fast but it sort of lasts a whole week. Thursday is for pre-fasting. You use this day to cut down on amount of food you eat and to practice eating slowly. Friday, Saturday and Sunday is when the actual fasting happens. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is for recovery. Slowly introducing solid foods into your system.

For me it is easiest to look after my health when I am in Korea. I have my mom to help me. She is basically preparing my meals according to instructions I have found on the net. The food items on the menu is very Asian (specifically Korean).
Today was day 1, (pre fasting) I had to fight off my appetite late afternoon, but I managed to stay on course. For next three days, my choice of food is what is called detox juice/shake. It’s made of 4 vegetables (Cabbage, broccoli, carrots and tomatoes) and 2 fruits (apples and bananas).


Vegetables you boil in shallow water and fruits you use as is. Cool the veges, (out of the fridge is also good) and blend it with the fruits using the liquid leftover from cooking the veggies.You use the vege water so you still get to eat the water-soluble substances. Cooking the vegetables increases the absorption rate and antioxidants. And the fruits are for vitamin c and such.

I have not made this shake before… I personally have a small issue about the mix of cooked veggies and fresh fruits but what the hack. I will never know until I try it. So here is to the weekend and my battle with my overly healthy appetite.

Wish me luck!